THE HISTORY OF HAVEN
A Tale of Two Campgrounds
It’s very easy to see the hand of God working in the lives of the two ministries that came together to form Haven on the Rock. In the early 1980’s He was working in two areas of Wyoming, speaking to leaders and youth alike to tell them that a camp was in His plan.
For the parents and grandparents of Lingle, Wyoming, God’s plan became evident as they watched many of their children go to summer camp and be transformed. During a local church service one evening, an old rancher stood up in the back and said, “I don’t know what happened to all these kids at that camp – all I know is I want what happened to them, to happen to me.” With that, he marched down to the front of the church and got on his knees, where he was soon joined by half the congregation. Some of the lives that were changed that night included a local ranching family, who were so moved that they dedicated some of their land to the building of a camp designed to fulfill the calling God had given them. They called their camp Rim Rock, and dedicated its use to the community that had inspired them to open it.
Just up the road, a local church in Casper established a children’s church camp. As more and more children came and the camp began to grow, the church’s leaders turned it into a Christian community camp called Adventures in Christian Kamping, or ACK, with the goal of helping children “ACK”nowledge Christ in all their ways.
In the early part of each camp’s ministry, they actually did camp together – Adventures in Christian Kamping used the facilities at Rim Rock to run their camps. This arrangement ended as both camps grew and eventually parted ways to continue to serve the Lord and the children that came summer after summer in their own ways. But in 2010, Adventures in Christian Kamping returned to Rim Rock to rent their facilities and perform their ministry, working around Rim Rock’s own schedule. It was in 2012 that the leaders of each ministry got together and asked the question, “Could we do this ministry together? Not side by side, but as one?” Following the Lord’s direction, they decided to give it a try, forming what is known today as Haven on the Rock.
God has been with each ministry every step of the way, changing lives and bringing people to Himself through dedicated counselors, selfless volunteers, and countless hours of fun and teaching. In turn, He has asked both Rim Rock and ACK, “Will you follow me in this?” We answered proudly and boldly with “Yes!”, and are following Him to the place He will lead us – to His Haven on the Rock. As we follow God’s leading, we are excited to see the incredible things that He will continue to do with this new and unified camp, and look forward to sharing our journey with you!
MEET THE LEADERSHIP STAFF
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR & FACILITIES
Zach & Karisa Bennett
Zach originally met Adventures in Christian Kamping (later Haven on the Rock) when he worked together with them at another camp in Wyoming called Lone Tree. After Zach and Karisa were married in 2009, they continued to work with Adventures in Christian Kamping, and in 2010 they became the Activity Staff Directors for the summer staff.
In the spring of 2012, they stepped into full-time camp ministry with Adventures in Christian Kamping at Rim Rock. Camp has always been special for both Zach and Karisa, and they bring a lot of experience to the table. As a youth Karisa attended and worked for another summer camp and is able to bring that experience – and her degree from Grace University in Intercultural studies – to this ministry of which they are an integral part. Zach has had a number of years of experience as a ranch hand and a construction worker, as well as working for another camp.
In January 2020 Karisa became the Executive Director, she is excited about her new role and to continue to be apart of all God is doing through Haven on the Rock. They are excited to have the opportunity to help create a special and safe place for youth to find their true identity in Christ while teaching them what it means to be His follower. They are also grateful that their children Daniel, Hope, David and James get to see first hand what it is like to be part of a Christian community and to see lives transformed week after week.
Growing up, Julie Christensen never missed a year at summer camp, attending various camps throughout the years. Once she was old enough to work at them herself, she followed some friends out to Wyoming to volunteer at Haven on the Rock, and she’s worked at Haven every summer since 2014.
She accepted the Staffing Coordinator position in 2021 and is very excited to lead the staff in teaching kids about Jesus. Julie has held various volunteer positions pertaining to children’s ministries and is confident going into this new role. In the off-season, Julie works as a Sign Language Interpreter at a middle school in Omaha, Nebraska.
MEET THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Michele Ogburn is in her third term as President of the Board.
She served as a counselor and director at camp, prior to joining the Board of Trustees, and she continue to serve as a director. God called her to join the Board of Trustees and she heeded His call. God has always called her to work with children and she was thrilled her path included being a part of this incredible ministry for His children.
Serving on the HOTR Board of Trustees has been a true blessing in her life. She's so thankful for the opportunity to work with all of the campers, families, staff, and the amazing Board members. Without them, she knows Haven would not be the place God intended and she's humbled to be a part of God’s plan for this camp.
Kate Birkett is the Vice President on the Board. She decided to join the board because she knows how important the behind the scenes things are to making camp happen, and she loves that she's able to help with that.
Haven on the Rock has always been one of her favorite places to ever be. From camper, to counselor, camp nurse, director, running crafts, and other jobs, she has had a lot of roles at camp over the last 18 years. She is often amazed at how many life changing moments have happened for her at Haven. God moves in people's lives every day, but there's something about camp that makes His voice feel clearer and His love feel louder.
Susan Karavitis has been involved in Christian camping since 1982. It began with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to God for her family upbringing.
When she moved to Wyoming in 1981, she was aware that many children were growing up without the blessing of knowing God or even familiar with Bible stories that had helped her as a child. She discovered that the children she was teaching at Sunday school were much more likely to invite their friends camping than to come with them to church. She knew her own children needed to experience God’s truth more than one hour, once a week. Her church asked her to direct a Junior Camp and she wanted to give back to God, so she did and she is still doing that.
She is currently on the Board of Trustees and co-directing Casper Primary Camp and the third/fourth grade weeks of camp with her daughter, Martha.
Twenty six of those 40 years of camping she also was the Medical Staff Director at Wyoming Medical Center. Her husband and Susan are retired and have a dog, cat, chickens and a garden.
Martha Karavitis is the Secretary on the board. When Martha isn't serving on the board, she works as a librarian.
Martha first went to the camp that would become Haven on the Rock in the summer of 1983. She's been going to this camp every summer since (except the summer of '95 when she was overseas being a missionary with Child Evangelism Fellowship). Camp is where she first decided to follow Jesus, and has been an important part of her life for nearly 40 years.
Martha joined the board during the transition year, when Adventures in Christian Kamping and Rim Rock merged to form Haven on the Rock. During that year is when they formed the board, deciding it was important to combine stakeholders from both ministries. Martha joined to help nurture the camp she loved as it grew and expanded into the camp it is today.
Preston Blakeley is a member of the Board, and has served previously as the Staffing coordinator and activity leader at Haven on the Rock. He joined the board because he is passionate about the mission of the camp, and he wanted to continue the ministry in a new way for him.
Outside of camp, Preston works as an Area Director at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming. He has a wife, Alecia, and two dogs, Pam and Jim.
Dwight W. Ballard is from Texas, and decided to move to Wyoming in 2001. Dwight was introduced to Haven on the Rock by Susan Karavitis in 2014. Dwight, his wife, and three children served at the Primary Camp in Casper for the first few years until he met Preston Blakely, who introduced him to Haven on the Rock at the Rim Rock location.
He has served as the speaker/pastor and also as counselor at 7th and 8th grade camp, as well as at high school camp. He loves being involved in young people’s lives and spreading the beautiful Gospel story of Jesus Christ to all. Dwight has been asked to baptize folks who have made that important decision to follow Jesus as Our Lord and Savior. He is also very involved in his church, having served in Easter and Christmas programs, vacation Bible school, and weekly kids’ programming, and also runs a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) huddle where he teaches seventh grade social studies in Casper, Wyoming.
Dwight chose to become a board member of HOTR because he believes that this is another facet to ministry that God has led him to serve in. He loves God, his family, music, his four Chihuahuas, three cats, fish, and the wonderful Wyoming outdoors. He also is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos, but enjoys fantasy football even more.