As two 23-year-olds running an entire camp, we get asked the same question, a lot:
“How did you guys end up here?”
Well, great question. There’s a story for that. Jon and I both graduated from high school in 2013, but in different states. While Jon was raised in Martinsville, Indiana, I was growing up in Delphos, Ohio. Jon has been serving the Lord since he was young and attended church camp every summer as a kid. It wasn’t until my senior year that I decided to follow Jesus, but church camp is where it all started. Thankfully, God knew our hearts would align well and sent us both to Indiana Wesleyan University. At the end of our freshman year, we met through an organization called Adventure Learning (AL). AL is an outdoor experience and education program. We both worked for AL our sophomore and junior years. Our positions required various, awesome job duties such as camping, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing. Needless to say, we like the outdoors. We both find revelation, serenity, and empowerment through God’s creation. Jon started his education journey as a Pre-Med student, thinking he would eventually take over his dad’s dental practice, but eventually he realized that was not God’s call on his life and is now pursuing ministry. I graduated with a Business Management degree – which has come in handy for this endeavor.
Before falling into place here at Walnut Ridge, we lived in Muncie, Indiana. While there, Jon focused on his ministry courses and I worked at the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC). The YOC is a residential treatment facility for at-risk youth. It was there that my patience was built and my compassion for others was multiplied.
Around the beginning of Spring 2017, Jon’s parents came to us with a proposal. His dad, Dr. Stacy Johnson, had a friend who was wanting to sell the retreat center. Stacy saw the camp as the perfect opportunity to transition his life from ‘success to significance.’ He just needed the man power to make it happen. Jon and I agreed to tour the camp to see whether or not it would be a good fit for us. As soon as we stepped into the lodge, we knew something big was about to happen.
By March we were moving out of our small apartment in Muncie and onto 65-acres of beautiful land in Brown County, Indiana. While we have absolutely no experience running a camp, God gave us both a passion for the outdoors, a desire to tell others about our amazing Father, and the incredible partnership we have through our marriage. Where we lack in knowledge and experience, he fulfills with wisdom and grace.
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses…for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10
Without His grace, strength, and provision, Jon and I could not and would not take on this massive project known as Walnut Ridge Christian Retreat Center. Thankfully, God has blessed us with an opportunity to grow individually and together as we work to glorify Him. Come join us in our journey – come enjoy the beauty God has given us. We’ll meet you outside!