By Ben Herr |

Summer Camp Countdown: 2006 (with Bethany Foley)

In the year 2006, an adventurous young lass traveled all the way from Canada to Quarryville, PA to work as a counselor at Black Rock Retreat.

Years later, she would marry the current Summer Camp Director, Josh Foley.

Today, we have an interview with Bethany (Hochstedler) Foley about her first summer at Black Rock Retreat. The theme for 2006 was “HYDRATION,” With the following Bible verse associated:

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” – John 7:37 (NASB)

In the following interview, I ask Bethany to give us some practical advice on how to stay hydrated — or, to put it another way, I ask her what all took place in the summer 2006.

Patrick: So with the theme being “Hydration” … did you drink more than the usual / normal amount of water that summer?

Bethany: Well, we always drink a lot of water. But maybe we had even more because it became sort of a joke … like, “well, the theme is Hydration, so EVERYONE STAY HYDRATED!”

Patrick: You met Josh that summer?

Bethany: Yes, we were both counselors. I was Senior Counselor of Oriole B.

Patrick: And did you fall in love with him at first sight?

Bethany: Well, I didn’t, but he liked me right away! We were good friends that summer, but our relationship progressed gradually. Over the course of time we became closer, and now we’re married.

Patrick: It’s 2006, you’re from Canada, how did you even end up at Black Rock?

Bethany: I went to Rosedale Bible College in Ohio. I befriended two other Rosedale students (Justin Hollinger, Jared Garber) who had been working at Black Rock Retreat. I had another friend trying to convince me to work at Camp Hebron. I’m glad I chose Black Rock Retreat (because of how God has worked in my life here)! Though that is not at all to disparage Hebron’s work!

Patrick: Jokes aside, what do you remember about the “Hydration” theme? What about that theme can you relate to?

Bethany: Thinking back … wow, that was seven years ago! I remember applying it in morning devotional sessions. The main lesson, the one I remember driving home to the campers: we are all thirsting for something, we all have desires we need to fulfill.

There was a focus on using the story of the woman at the well (John 4). Jesus identifies within her the need for something deeper than just plain water: He has Living Water.

We didn’t have a consistent “skit” that we did alongside Vespers every week that summer. But our evening speakers related the theme of thirst to the different things we think might fulfill us, only to discover that Jesus is the true source of life and what they (and we) really need.

Sometimes we would go for a hike, and then after the hike we’d stop for water and everyone was very thirsty. And that was the perfect time to talk about the sudden urge or need that we know we need to survive.

Patrick: Has there been any time during or after that summer that John 7:37’s statement was very important to you?

Bethany: In the fall of 2007, when I started working for Outdoor Education and permanently moved to Lancaster, that was a difficult transition for me. I’d gone to college in the US, sure, but my place of home with my family was still in Canada. And at that point, I’d changed residency, my “home” was new, and it was weird, and it was hard.

So much of our identity is tied to the concept of “home.” And I felt a longing for home, for belonging, for the comforts that come with knowing I have a home. But God kept reminding me that, if I’m in His will, He gives me a place that I can call home. And ultimately, my true home is a place we’ve not yet seen in full, so the longing and desire continues and I continue to thirst for Christ.

Patrick: What else do you remember about that first year you worked at Black Rock?

Bethany: When I first came to Black Rock, my plan was to do summer camp for just one summer. I thought I had to do it, get it out of my system, and move on.

Seven years later, I’m married to the summer camp director and I’ve been involved every summer since 2006!

One thing Justin and Jared had told me, before I ever came to Black Rock, was that the summer staff leadership invested in the staff — to mentor us, to foster unity and community.

I remember one weekend, a bunch of us decided to just sit down and go through a book of the New Testament together (Colossians). We went through the whole book over a long evening, and that was very powerful. Seeing other people my age that had a passion for seeking Christ, and it was all happening on this plot of land in Lancaster, PA.

I also have to mention my good friend Sonya Lantz. She was a big influence in my life and still is. I remember she came to me and said “can I pray with you on Monday mornings before campers arrive?” That was something another staff member had done for Sonya, and now that she was on leadership staff, she was doing that for me. That was a huge encouragement for me.

I have since gone on and done that for other counselors in subsequent summers. But these kinds of relationships on staff are very powerful, and I knew since that summer in 2006, this is what was drawing me back, this kind of authentic community seeking after Christ together.

Patrick: Any interactions between yourself and campers from 2006 that you’d like to share?

Bethany: I’m always surprised at how I’m still in touch with the campers I had. I have these long-term relationship with women that used to be young girls, and now they’re growing and grown, and while I wasn’t a constant presence in their lives, but getting to catch up with them locally or in subsequent summers … they keep me updated on what’s going on in their lives now.

There are ten or so that I’m pretty close to that I had during those early years; we run into each other or will contact each other intentionally. It’s great that these relationships can continue to grow.

There was one young lady in particular I met at teen week that year. She’d had really similar family struggles to those I experienced in my life. I was able to relate, and being able to help her cope with that situation, I know that there was a reason I was there, and she was a big part of my purpose for being there in 2006.

Thanks so much to Bethany for sharing her memories from this great summer.

Were you a camper or staff member during the year of HYDRATION, 2006? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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