We recently connected with Dave and asked him about his time at camp, heard about some fond memories, and caught up with what’s gone on in his life since we last saw him. Below are some of the questions we asked and his responses:
Brian: What are some of your favorite camp memories?
Dave: 1. The dirt pile! When bulldozers move dirt around to level part of the property, and they leave a LOT of it in a big pile, and you are at Camp Hickory Hill, that is a blessing directly from God. Capture the flag that night just kept going and going and going, but nobody ever won because they all just kept climbing up and jumping off this giant mount of dirt until every single stockade and counselor was covered head-to-toe with mud.
2. As a junior leader in cabin 10, sleeping outside almost every night for an entire week with a group of guys who wanted to stay up late every night so that we could read the book of Acts out loud. We read over half the book, talked about how cool it was that Paul would still talk about Jesus while on trial, how awesome it is that there are shipwreck stories in the Bible, and how awesome the universe is that God made.
3. Late night mud-pit, surrounded by smudge pots, with a 12 year old stockade cabin
4. Seeing guys I had as campers join the staff and become program directors, leading other staff after them.
5. Mike Van Etten convincing Sam that carpetball craft, led by 2 junior leaders, Tim Reardon and me, was a good idea.
6. Walking to the pond during a special, and having one of my campers suddenly burst into a whole stream of telling me what he had been learning about God that week when I asked him what his favorite part of the week was.
7. Getting to drive my nephew around camp on a golf cart this summer, after he broke his collarbone on the very first morning of camp.
8. Assigning CPDs for junior leaders to bring Dave Hough freezee pops, especially the day he was taking a shower and got a LOT of freezies thrown over to curtain to him.
9. The moment I learned just how powerful our water-balloon launchers were: when I saw the chicken-shaped welt on Dennis Mill when he volunteered as a target for stockade surprise to launch things at during the same summer we had ordered a bunch of rubber chickens and pigs (the big ones weren’t bad, but those little chickens really zoomed!)
10. Tim Reardon as evil Lewis and Clark, the main villain for the theme the week of the dirt pile. Clark was a sock puppet who was really the mastermind of the whole thing, and I couldn’t stop laughing every time Tim did his high-pitched sock puppet Clark voice. He lost his voice part way through the week, but on the dirt pile the puppet lost its eyes, so we decided to say that Clark had died and come back as zombie sock puppet. We covered up all the windows, played creepy music, and Tim gave the puppet a new, super deep and creepy voice down in the only register where he could still talk.
11. A pre-camp night where we had our campfire in the dining hall. Sam said we could all go to bed at one point, but nobody left and we just kept on praying and singing.
12. A staff reunion with maybe 3 feet of snow on the soccer field, playing tackle football and nobody really holding back but nobody getting hurt. I ate too many Cheetos and threw up really bright orange in the snow.
13. Dave Hough always wearing his tighty whiteys in the PDCO, with his hairy belly always sticking out, laughing.
14. Jim Szczdrowski bringing chinese food.
15. The battalion cabin that always chose to poop in the “quad-holer” 4-part outhouse near our cabin. Every time anyone had to go, he would get 3 others guys to try to poop at the same time. Jesse Werzinger was my JL, and would sometimes bring his guitar and sing songs while everyone pooped. That’s a good note to end on.
Brian: What kind of impact did camp have on your life as a young man?
Dave: Clearly, camp made me deranged. But it also was the place where I gained confidence in the Lord and in my responses to him like nowhere else. I saw men who served faithfully year after year. I saw God answer prayer. I saw God work through me and words that I said—my actions and words mattered in God’s purposes! Camp is where I first served the Lord beyond the limit of my own energies. It’s where I learned how deeply joyful serving the Lord really is. I don’t have the capacity to express the impact camp had on me or the difference that has made in the 21 years since I first went there.
Brian: Do you have a funny story from camp that you remember?
Dave: I pooped way too much and had to bring a sample of it to the Warsaw hospital ER in the middle of the night after drinking bad water in the woods. If you find potty humor at all funny, this was hilarious!
Brian: Who is one person from camp impacted your life and how?
Dave: So many! At the moment, here is who I thought of:Tim Reardon. We went to the same school and were part of the same Brigade program at home, but serving together at camp is how we became truly good friends. During our LIT training, Kevin Maloney talked a lot about having accountability in our Christian walk, and encouraged us to meet regularly with someone to pray and talk about our relationship with the Lord. Tim and I decided to start praying together that summer, and continued to do so for several years. Out of serving together at Camp, and in Brigade at home, sprang a friendship that has been one of the most formative in my life. He, along with BJ Haas who joined camp staff a couple years later, has helped me be more faithful, more creative, and more fully the person God made me to be. Serving with guys like that has challenged my in some very good ways, and made loving Jesus a whole lot of fun. Camp has played a huge part in our friendship.
Brian: Fill us in, what has happened in your life between the time you worked at camp and now?
Dave: I went Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, for pastoral and theological training. While I was there, I became very involved in a fantastic rural church that was on the same level of technology as Hickory Hill in the 1970s. We had an outhouse, which I spent one Saturday morning painting. With 2 seats inside! (It’s no royal 4-holer, but still not bad.)
I met Meredith at seminary too—pretty good bonus! We graduated and got married in 2009. We then served together on the staff of a church near Washington, DC. Our roles there were quite diverse, but the heart of our life and ministry there was leading a young adults fellowship. It was a huge blessing; God is up to something really special in that group. We got to see several people head overseas to serve as missionaries, and others have grown in service right where they are. Now, people from that fellowship are among the first we call when we need prayer or just want to talk to friends.
Now, we have moved to Aberdeen, Scotland, for me to pursue a PhD in Christian Ethics, with the desire to teach and train others for ministry.
Brian: Are you involved in any leadership in your church or community? If so, please describe.
Dave: After a few years serving in pastoral ministry, it has been a genuine pleasure to worship with several different congregations and to meet different Christians in Aberdeen. Now we are praying for God to lead us to the church family he would have us be a part of and serve in during our years in Scotland. Meantime, we have been striving to be hospitable to other students, and offer our home as a place to be for students who are away from their families and home-cooked meals.
Brian: What is one thing you learned from camp that helps you even today?
Dave: The importance of joy. When a community experiences joy together, they are better able to recognize the voice of the Lord when He speaks, and are better prepared to respond to Him.
Bonus story: I just remembered my LIT summer, serving as JL under Mike Van Etten in cabin 13, and we were talking with the campers about how God never leaves us or abandons us. Up to that point I had always been a little nervous that Jesus just sort of left me and I had to invite him back every so often (I probably prayed for Jesus to come into my heart 100 times). I felt like I had to just act wholly confident and sure in front of the campers, but I prayed while we were sitting there that God would take that worry away from me and that I would have confidence in His salvation and my belonging in it. He answered that prayer so thoroughly that it was years later before I even remembered praying it or worrying about it. I just never thought after that about whether Jesus was with me or not, or whether I was safe in Him. I just knew it.