THIS IS NOT THE ANNOUNCEMENT…however it IS about the most magical place on earth…and no, it’s not Disney.


I hate hate hate that I can’t share my news yet, but in the meantime, I DO want to share with you about a family camp I went to this summer. I know, family camp sounds super weird and maybe even a bit corny but normal and cool is soooo 1990. In short, it was the Best. Trip. Ever. (And as you can tell from the pic above, there are theme nights. Obviously Caitlin did not want in on the family camo theme.)

Sometimes when people have an extraordinary experience and are asked about it, they say things like, “ It’s so hard to put into words” or “I can’t even begin to describe it!” This is not my problem when it comes to talking about Pine Cove family camp. My problem is that I want every word I use to describe this camp to carry the magnitude of joy I felt while I was there. My problem is I want bigger/better/more words than I have in my vocabulary to tell you about this magical place. My problem is I want to somehow transfer my experience into your body so you can understand it. Because some things just have to be experienced in order to be understood.
This place, ya’ll.
I can’t quit this place. We drank the Kool-Aid, bought the shirts, and cranked it like a chainsaw. We are ALL IN.
Instead of going into the minutiae of why I love this camp so much, I’m going to narrow it down to 3 things:

1. The Counselors
-Calling these young men and women the cream of the crop would still be a gross understatement. They’re basically unicorns in human skins. I have never met young adults more concerned with the needs of others. Look, I know some of you may be thinking, “That’s their job. They’re getting paid to care for your every need.” Clearly you’ve never been a camp counselor. The monetary gain is SLIIIIMMMM. They’re basically paid in high fives and side hugs. Seriously. And what young 20-somethings choose to spend their summers serving and loving on families? This is not normal, but after meeting some of these men and women, I realized– they really aren’t normal. They are high energy, Jesus-loving, hard working, Kingdom-minded, helping-handed, chant-loving, feet of Jesus, disciple-makers. And smiling is their favorite. For real. These young men and women make this place what it is. I’m not sure if they’re drinking Jesus or Red Bulls all day but my goodness do they have a lot of energy. And funny enough, little kids have high energy too so it’s a perfect match. They are there showing kids how much fun it is to love God and live out their faith… and they’re cool (Because lesbihonest, some people don’t even make it look like fun to follow Jesus. And no, they weren’t decked out in Jesus Freak shirts and bracelets. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

2. Reprieve from Mom and Dad duties
-It’s like a bunch of parents got together and came up with a list of the most stressful things about vacationing with kids and figured out a way to alleviate them. I wish we had started going to Pine Cove about 5-7 years ago when it was a GRIND to go on vacation with the kids. (Plug to moms of toddlers: SIGN UP FOR THIS CAMP! You need a break more than anyone! Pinky promise you’ll love it.) For example, meal times. With small kids, meal times are an opportunity to play “How many times can I make Mom/Dad get up before their food is cold?” Kids aren’t taught this game; it’s somehow burned into their brain upon arrival into the world. With that being said, every meal you have at Pine Cove will not involve this game. You will not lift one single finger during meals except to feed yourself. A counselor is assigned to your table, which means he/she will fill your drinks, he/she will butter their rolls, he/she will CUT UP YOUR KIDS’ FOOD. You read that right and I am not even kidding about it. The counselor will get up and get your kids whatever they think they need. This service allows your family to enjoy a meal without anyone leaving the table. It’s magical, like the land of Narnia. (Moms of babies, I wouldn’t tell you this if I hadn’t witnessed it with my eyeballs. Are you ready? A counselor will HOLD YOUR BABY WHILE YOU EAT! I’m telling ya’ll, it’s like a land where unicorns roam. Are you clicking the links now to sign up?)
For those of you that have children who require more attention and care due to special needs, YOU NEED THIS CAMP. Your precious child will not only still get to participate as his/her abilities allow, he/she will have their own counselor for the week. It brings tears to my eyes even now when I think about watching these college kids love on these extraordinary children. They are so patient and gentle with these kids. It was almost like they considered it an honor to take care of these children. I know it blessed me and I was just a bystander.

3. Family
-There are thousands of camps for kids. There are also hundreds of conferences/retreats for married people (Thousands? Hundreds? I don’t know, but there are a lot.) But rarely do you find a camp that is for families. They understand the value of a strong family unit. Whether you’re married, divorced, widowed, or single, they want to serve your family. They have designed this camp to set parents up to bond with their kids. All those good intentions we have as parents to spend quality time with our kids, they are making a reality. They provide materials and a specific time to have devotionals as a family. They provide opportunities for your family to go do things together i.e. zip lining, tubing, water skiing, etc. They give you a night to spend with your teenagers to speak God’s truth into their lives; telling them who they are in Christ and offering a chance to ask/give forgiveness over the broken parts of your relationship. This place wants to make it easy for parents to win with their kids. It offers a safe place to connect and grow as a family and give memories to last a lifetime.

I know this post may seem long-winded but I promise I’m only scratching the surface of this enchanted place. I’m sure some of you are now thinking, “This all sounds too good to be true but just in case a land of unicorns DOES exist…how much does it cost?” I’m not gonna lie to you, unicorns and rainbows come at a cost. But if your family can afford to save up for a trip to see a giant mouse and stand in line for 1 million hours, you can swing this camp. And once you get there, you don’t pay for anything. Cabins, 17 meals, entertainment, unicorns, stronger families, and memories are ALL included in the cost. Think of it as an investment in your family. Trust me, it’s just that good. You can also do a payment plan if that works better for your family. We made Pine Cove our only trip for the summer and it was worth every penny. Our kids are still talking about it. And if Texas is too far of a hike for your people, they’re opening a new camp location in South Carolina next summer! Please consider this camp for your family, it will be money well spent!!

Here’s the linky-loo so you can check it out for yourself!

Pine Cove family camps


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8 thoughts on “THIS IS NOT THE ANNOUNCEMENT…however it IS about the most magical place on earth…and no, it’s not Disney.

  1. Ally Gann says:

    Amen and amen!! My favorite place on this side of heaven. Now to just figure out how to live there for the rest of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sandra Moore says:

    I cry when I get there
    I cry when I leave
    My kids started when they were 5 and now one is 18 and the other is 16
    They would prefer Pine Cove to Disnry Land

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lea says:

    Awe, this made my heart smile really BIG! Our children started going there when they were 10 and 13 and now our son and his family attend family camp in Tyler. Our kids were also counselors there while they were in college. It is the greatest place on earth and has had such a powerful impact on our children’s lives and now the lives of our son and his family. Thanks for this amazing article.


  4. Kathleen vaughn says:

    Can ur husband give his review so I can show it to mine! He is reluctant!!! I want to go so bad!!!


    • cpallen216 says:

      I pushed it off for two years as multiple older men I look up to had been taking their families for 5+ years. They told me I had to do it and finally when one guy told me it is the best financial decision he makes every year- it took me back a bit. (still wasn’t sold on it..but we went…well Courtney just signed us up) I grew up going to camp as a kid- so I knew it would be fun- but again I was thinking this just purely from a financial sense and not wanting to pay the money.

      After going- I would pay double.
      It is the most rich and fruitful week my family has ever done together. Every vacation we go on as a family is always stressful, costs a ton of money, and we leave with nothing to show for it. Yes we have some good laughs and memories- but are we really growing closer on these vacations? Without a doubt this was the most relaxing, stress free, memory filled week I have ever had with my family. We didn’t have to worry about anything except being together as a family (and also being with my wife while the kids were away)

      The entire week, if I had to use one word, was intentional. Everything was planned out for growing our family closer together. They set up conversations for me to have with my wife and kids. They did it in a way that was fun and completely relatable.

      I now know why all these men have taken their families to Pine Cove all these years. You want every single one of your kids to be like these Pine Cove counselors. Raising kids in this social media world scares me to death- especially my daughter. I need all the advantages I can get to stay ahead of the devil. Pine Cove is my advantage on the world. Pine Cove promotes family in a way I have never experienced before. Everyone wants what is best for their kids….I am 12 years into this parenting deal and Pine Cove is what is best for my kids.

      The counselors make this camp happen- the energy is off the charts. The executive staff is incredible- they just know the struggles of parenting and take it all away at Pine Cove. They remove the struggles with fruitful wisdom, encouragement, and, overall, incredible bonding.

      Pine Cove is very intentional in promoting families to win. They are intentional in providing opportunities for great conversation with your sons/daughters that you wouldn’t normally have. You think about having these type of conversations- but you don’t follow through. Pine Cove sets the ball on the tee and basically swings the bat for you.

      I completely get your husband’s hesitation…it is strictly the money. He needs to trust you and just go for one year. If it isn’t for you guys- I promise you will still be a closer family for going. I promise you it is way better than Disney…and a lot shorter lines.

      You are welcome to call me directly to answer any other questions. 615-498-5036



      • KATHLEEN VAUGHN says:

        Kyle if this was super kind and generous of you to write such a detailed response, I shared it with my husband and I can’t thank you enough!


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