a real vacation…our week at family camp

Jul 22, 2013

Last week we went on an unconventional family vacation…to summer camp.

Maybe you just had flashback to a childhood memory of counselors, cabins and campfire songs. Or maybe you cringe at the word “summer camp” because you remember being forced out of your comfort zone toparticipate in an odd camp game or missing home so badly you cried yourself to sleep.

Well, I hope to erase any preconceived notion of “camp” from your mind, because our experience was unlike any camp I have ever known.

Before I share about our time at Pine Cove camp, I want to backtrack to “why” we decided to spend our only summer vacation at family camp.

Last year we planned a wonderful week in San Antonio at the gorgeous Hyatt HillCountry resort. The facilities were fabulous and the activities for kids plentiful. The only problem our trip happened a week after I fractured my foot. So I hobbled around on crutches leaving Bruce with the grocery shopping, cooking, putting kids to bed and pretty much any task requiring the use of hands while standing. Not much of a vacation.

(but really any vacation with kids is just doing what work you normally do but in a new location…while slightly sleep deprived).

Given our last “vacation” experience, we had friends ask if we were interested in joining them at Pine Cove family camp. Having gone last summer they shared all the help parents get during the week and how much fun you have as a family.

I made the mistake of telling the boys about camp back in May…they were pretty bummed we weren’t going there the next day. Two weeks before camp, Price decided to make a paper chain to count down til Pine Cove. Almost every day we watched the promo video.

Needless to say the boys were pretty amped up as we drove to camp last Sunday. As I texted and joked with our friends who were also driving to camp, my excitement began to build.

Camp opens at 3:30 pm. We pulled up in line of cars at 3:20 pm (well, first we pulled into the line for the junior high camp, but soon realized our error and got back on track).


a very sweet and smiley, curly haired college student greeted us with a bottle of root beer for Bruce and a red rose for me. The boys were climbing over the front row seats to come say “hi” and to introduce themselves.

The line started moving and Price (on Bruce’s lap) drove us towards the camp entrance…where we experienced the most energetic welcome with counselors jumping up and down in the air, waving their arms and shouting.

A darling gal opened my door and walked us into the main meeting hall while a responsible college aged fellow drove our Suburban to our cabin…and unloaded ALL our bags into our room. 

That first night we arrived at dinner to find another enthusiastic college student standing on a chair waving a sign labeled “MacFadyen”. Once he saw baby Knox he went and found a high chair to bring to the table before Bruce could. He immediately asked us what he could get us to drink. He took Knox’s sippy cup (later found out I didn’t even need to bring my own…) and filled it with milk. Then he brought us plates of food. When Knox started fussing one of the counselors who sat down at our table sat Knox on his lap. Then another counselor came and took Knox and Watts outside to play in the giant sand pit while we finished dinner.

And I suddenly realized how much we needed (after two stressful years) these counselors to come in and give us a “break”.

During the meal we learned where these boys were going to college and how God brought them to Pine Cove. And I realized this
“vacation” was so much more than a break. How much we love getting to know young men and women pursuing God’s plan for their lives.

I knew my defenses had been broken and my parenting burdens dropped at a particular moment during the first night. The director came on stage to welcome us and tell us that they don’t really like rules…they like to call them “guidelines”. They like to share those guidelines in a fun way. Two college guys stood on stage and started singing “Les Miserables” and suddenly the room was surrounded by counselor voices singing. By the end of their version of “One More Day” (called “One More Rule”) I was hugging Price close to me with my face close to his to hide my tears.

I was so overwhelmed with the gift of Pine Cove, aware that for one week I would be encouraged/inspired/assisted/loved by these awesome college students and staff. A blessing.

Over the week we spent time fostering so many different relationships: time on our own (reading, resting), time together as a couple (picnic dinner, day date in Tyler with lunch and a movie), time with friends (horseback riding before breakfast, guy/girl porch chats), time with kids (early morning hot chocolate dates, adventures around camp), time as a family (zip lining, boat rides), time with counselors (chatting at meals, during family devos).

God showed me a plan for our family. A hope for our future. A several images of His love. Can’t wait to share more with you in the next couple posts.



  1. Julie Reynolds

    Can’t wait to hear more, sounds like such fun for all.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      I can’t wait to share even more…particularly what God shared with me! It really was a great time. thanks julie!

  2. Jacki Rucksdashel

    Oh Heather! Seeing these pictures just took me back to my college years as a counselor at Pine Cove! I am so thankful you all got to go, and I too can’t wait to hear more! You all look like you had the best time. PC is an experience that changed my life too.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Jacki you were a counselor at PC!! Oh that just confirms what I found to be true…amazing people work at Pine Cove…men & women who desire to glorify Him and serve others. that’s you sister!

  3. Jennie

    too fun! ive been looking into the ones on colorado..where was this??

    • Heather MacFadyen

      it was wonderful…especially for big families (was another family of 4 young boys there…). This was in Tyler, TX. We were blessed by cooler temps because of the occasional rain storm.

  4. cselkins

    How fun is this?! Can’t wait to hear more!

    • Heather MacFadyen

      it was pretty awesome. But you know what’s even more awesome? While I was there I learned that I was going to get to see you in just a few days!! woot!

  5. Pamela

    Got tears for you friend! So glad you guys had a great vacation and I LOVE the top pic of the “super”family 🙂

    • Heather MacFadyen

      sister, we have to make a way for your family to come. Y’all would love it. Especially in the coming years when the big girls can be in the big kid program. Thanks! We were feeling pretty “super” by the end of the week. 😉

  6. motherofknights

    Ok. We are coming with you next year.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      done deal. It was great for my boys…lots of activities and energy and no requirement to sit still and be quiet. 😉

  7. Carol wright

    Heather so great to hear. Team Wright heads to Kanakuks family camp on Friday. We are all anxious and excited. We figure with Zoe headed to high school in the fall and Aidan first grade and Tristan 5th seemed like a pretty time.

    Looking forward to hearing more from your experience.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      Oh Carol y’all will be blessed! There were several families at our camp with high schoolers and young kids. They really seemed to bond. Nice to have activities for each age group. Praying for your time together at Kanakuk!

  8. erin d.

    brought tears to my eyes….what a blessing your family was to pine cove as well I am certain. 🙂

  9. Ashley

    OK, this post brought happy tears to my eyes! I was one of those crazy counselors jumping up and down in the heat of the summer at Pine Cove…and loved every minute of it! It’s truly one of my favorite places on this earth and the Lord did a number in my life and my heart during those four summers that I was there. We are currently saving for family camp. 🙂 Your post was so refreshing..can’t wait to read more about the Lord at work. And, so fun seeing Erin D, Erin M, and Alice (who I knew as “Narnia” during the summers we worked together) What a FUN group! So glad that it was a great week for you, your marriage your kids, your family..

    • Heather MacFadyen

      I did NOT know you were a counselor at Pine Cove! And you knew Narnia! very fun. Did you know Meredith White was at camp the same week we were? She is precious. We definitely need to get ya’ll to camp week 7!

  10. Ashley

    YES! Love Meredith White…BEST friends with her sister in law Katie!! So, Eddy Shigley was your speaker then??? He was my director when I worked at the Towers. His wife Esther is amazing and mentored me while I was there and I was a nanny for their kids (when they only had 4). He was my “Godly father figure” and their family taught me what a Godly family looked like. SO thankful (slighty jealous…if I’m honest) that you got to listen to him speak. Yes, looks like week 7 is the week to be there!!! We just spent our “vacation savings” on our ten year anniversary trip to Costa Rica but are working to save and make family camp a reality one day. Can’t do it all, right? 🙂 So cool that you met Meredith. I love all the connections.

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