Have you ever thought about working for Rock-N-Water as an adventure guide?  What better way to experience the thrill of God’s creation and adventure than leading campers on trips through the great outdoors? Rock-N-Water is a special place where growth happens. Not only do we see growth and God encounters in all the campers that experience Rock-N-Water, but also in the staff.  Rock-N-Water will grow you, stretch you, push you, and challenge you in so many ways.  But don’t take it from me.

Below is an interview with one of our summer staff, Annika Johnson.  Annika, along with her siblings, has been a part of Rock-N-Water’s summer program for many years.   We love her and are so thankful to have her as staff!  We asked her to share her thoughts about working at Rock-N-Water in the summer to help give you an idea of what one might expect to take away when working as an adventure Guide at our camp. Here are her answers;

How long have you been an adventure guide at Rock-N-Water? What keeps you coming back?

I have been an adventure guide at Rock-N-Water for 6 years including my volunteer summer, and I’m going on 7, say what! I think ultimately what keeps me coming back is the feeling that God still has more for me here. Now, I know this could be a misinterpretation on my part, but I do think that God has done something with me (and through me I pray) at camp each year I choose to return. 

As for specific reasons, I Iove this place and have excitement to return. I think a lot of that is attributed to the staff. They become your family. When you are all enduring the mental, physical, and emotional toll of camp (a hard, but beautiful thing), there is a bond that forms. And such bonds only grow stronger with all the chats at 11:00 o’clock at night. With the worship sessions. With the fun weekend days. With the excitement and challenge of guiding together. Rock-N-Water was one of the first places I learned what it meant to live in Christian fellowship, and it is a place that continually teaches me more about what that looks like and gives a beautiful example of what it can look like elsewhere. A phrase often said with fondness around here is that camp shows us a tiny, small, and wondrous glimpse into life in heaven. We love, work, and live with Jesus and for him. Yes we are human, angry August comes around, we make mistakes, but ultimately, the staff all have the desire to see Jesus come and lives to change (including each other’s). 

Something else that has brought me back to camp, which I think has grown for each year I return, is being able to witness the growth and excitement of campers who experience God’s creation in a way they might not have before. Being able to watch campers really struggle on an adventure, but continue to endure and to hear about what they learned later and how they saw God work within that struggle is something that has really made me fall in love with what we do here at camp. Watching a kid go from fearful tears on the rock face, to jumping for joy at campfire brings a smile to my face every time. Seeing God move in the campers only bolster my own joy for Him, and I think that is a really cool part about camp. We are all, staff and campers alike, encountering Jesus through each other. 

How has working as an adventure guide at Rock-N-Water changed and grown you?

How has it not! Every summer presents its own flavor of intensity, and with such intensity comes more growth within 2 months than I’ll see in the other 10 months of the year! You think I’m exaggerating, and perhaps I am, but it really feels that way because with the mental, spiritual, emotional, social, and physical challenges of camp comes the necessity to learn and grow. And I think I have grown in all those areas over my years at camp. It has taught me how to work with coworkers. How to interact with kids. How to lead people older than myself. How to lead in general. How to communicate. How to push forward when all I want to do is quit? How to finish a job well. How to be vulnerable. How to understand my limitations. How to communicate my needs. How to understand the needs of others. When to push and when to ease up. How to talk a camper through a scary moment. How to run over rocks. The list really could go on (as it will also repeat itself every single year). And that doesn’t even include the change and growth in my relationship with the Lord.

Rock-N-Water has played a huge role in my testimony because it was here that I first truly met Jesus in the curiosity He gave me for who He was. And every year since, I feel like I have grown closer to Him, learned more about Him, leaned into Him, relied on Him, trusted in Him. At camp, I am surrounded by role models of people who walk so closely with the Lord. I am in constant situations where I come to the realization that I can’t do this alone. I am shown the joy of Lord. I see the mercy of His grace. God is so present here, and even if the chaos of camp draws you away and distracts you from Him, there is learning even in THAT. You learn the need you have to rely and depend on Him each second of the day. You learn how to make time to step away to have communion with Him. I really could go on, but I think you get the picture. Rock-N-Water has been a place of growth and a key player of what God has used (and is using) to shape me. 

What was your biggest takeaway or growth from this Summer? Why?

 My biggest takeaway from the summer is just the faithfulness and provision of God. How He is so faithful to us even when we are not. How He provides when we think all is lost. Multiple times this past summer, there were times when the schedule looked dotted through with holes and it wasn’t difficult to ask the question, “How in the world are those going to be filled?” It’s easy in those times to resort to feeling a bit hopeless. And yet, God came through every time. And usually, the scheduling and staffing that He worked out ended up being exactly what was needed, if not for the better!

 I can remember one day when I was supposed to be on a canyon with certain guides that for whatever reason were switched around (either from illness or necessity elsewhere) and I ended up working with different guides. That day, I remember thinking how glad I was that the guides were changed. This is not to say that I think the other guides wouldn’t have been awesome (they would have been because I think everyone who works here is awesome), but I remember driving home from the adventure thinking that I wouldn’t have wanted any other guides on that trip. Though the switch had been because of a schedule mishap or need, it ended up for the best. One of the guides was able to have a really incredible spiritual conversation with a camper that had a HUGE impact. The other’s meshed with the group really well and had the right personalities, patience, and attitudes for what was needed that day. It was the team that needed to be in that canyon that day and it was through God’s provision.

What is your favorite part about being an adventure guide? Least favorite part? Why?

If I had to sum it all the way down to one thing, my favorite part about being an adventure guide would be the simple joy of being able to work within God’s creation. However, I really don’t think that encompasses all of it. Yes, working outside and being able to bear witness to God through His creation every day has some major perks (obviously), but it is what happens in the canyons, on the river, climbing the rock wall that makes me enjoy my job. It is the puzzle and the challenge that each adventure presents, both for me and the campers. It is seeing a kid’s face light up or go slack-jawed with awe at the turquoise waters. It is getting to show someone the playground God created that we get the privilege of playing in. It is the struggle and the solution. It is that everyday looks different and that no day runs the same as the one before. It is being able to not only appreciate God’s creation of nature, but the creation of humans. To be able to marvel at what God created our bodies to do and to be able to do. It is how both the outdoors and the minds of campers, with their determination and joy and wonder, allow me to have my own continuous wonder in the Lord. As you can see, I have a hard time choosing a favorite…

As for my least favorite part, I think that would just be the continuous mental and physical strain. Though the challenge is a part that I like about the job, it does get really difficult day after day. It is hard to muster the same energy each day, and even harder to not get down on myself when I can’t! My brain feels like mush after some days and it’s hard to recuperate it. 

How did God reveal Himself to you this Summer?

I think God reveals Himself to me in many small moments throughout the summer, usually through the beauty of seeing campers encounter Him. However, one moment that comes to mind right now is a chat I was able to have with a camper. This conversation had followed one of the toughest weeks I’ve had in camp with a group that was really difficult to connect with, hear from, and get through too. That night, after a really difficult campfire (their last one), I was told by one of the tougher kids that this camp was a waste of money. Afterwards, I was feeling pretty rotten, tired, and ready to say goodbye to this group. I just wanted to go to bed. But before I could, a camper asked if I could look for his water bottle amongst the stack of 20 funyaks. I agreed (although full honesty, my internal attitude was not great). And praise the Lord! The water bottle was in the second funyak I dug through. But that’s not the moment I’m trying to get to (I promise, it’s coming). After finding the water bottle, I returned to the group’s camp site to return it. And this was when the cool moment happened. A camper approached with a question, which led to about a 30-40 minute conversation about how the Lord has worked in my life, about christian community, about how the camper saw God in their life but how they felt like they were falling away from Him. It was a really good conversation that I feel the Lord brought to me saying, “See? I did do a work through you this week, you just didn’t need to know.”

How often do we wish to see the fruits of our labor for our own self to feel good. It was a moment that God revealed Himself to me to help me understand that it is all done through Him and FOR Him. And it was also cool to see that in choosing to serve another camper by finding their water bottle, God presented me with a ministry opportunity, yes to further His kingdom, but also I think (and hey, I could be wrong) to encourage me that the week was not a waste. 

What are you most looking forward to next Summer if you return?

 I am just excited to see who God brings to camp this year, staff and campers alike. I think we are entering another transition year and I am looking forward to seeing who God calls and what He does through it! 

Also perhaps the potential for a high water year??

Are you planning on coming come back? If so, in what new ways are you hoping to see

God challenge you or grow you?

Yes, I am planning on being at camp this summer. This next summer will look a bit different for me however as I have taken on other responsibilities with Rock-N-Water that will switch up the usual summer schedule for an adventure guide, so I am expecting lots of growth and challenge! I think I am hoping to see how God uses me through this new position. I don’t really know what the summer will look like or how it will feel different for me, so I am excited to see what ways God chooses to move me and use me in it.

Bonus questions! (optional) If you could change one thing about Rock-N-Water’s Summer program, what would it be?

That there would always be Gluten Free Lasagna on Fridays.


Interested in joining Rock-N-Water’s mission to impact people through God’s creation? Learn more here.
Did you like this interview-style post? Check out more staff interviews here.