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Getting to Know You: Matt Huffman
Tell me a little bit about yourself, whatever background you’d like to share.
I am originally from a small town in Northern Michigan and, through a series of educational experiences, eventually graduated from Cairn University in Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Bible Ministries. My degree took me to Northern Wisconsin to a camp for two years where I met my wife, Julie. Although we didn’t start dating officially until after I left Wisconsin the first time, we were married in 2003. We had a great opportunity the first two years of marriage to live in Peoria, Illinois, working with an inner-city camp ministry and eventually back to northern Wisconsin and back to the camp where we had originally met. Going back to work in Wisconsin was a huge time of change for us as we went there in 2006 as a couple and left to move to Texas in 2014 with four children. Simon, our oldest son is eight years old; Hudson, our second son is seven years old; Alivia, is five years old; and Clara is two years old. They are a huge blessing to us and I love spending as much time as I can with each one and watching each ones unique personality develop.
So, what exactly do you do for us at Family Camp?
I am the Laity Lodge Family Camp Food Service Manager, which means that I put together menus for all of the 20 Family Camp weekends and weeklong events and then make sure food is purchased and prepared to the quality standards we have established for those events. I help with training of cooks in the summer and working with the high school students that come out for the weekend camp events. I also help out as needed with special meals for staff meetings, special Foundation events, and as needs arise.
What excites you (or what do you love) about working for Family Camp?
I love working at Family Camp because I love to be able to minister to the whole family through meeting their needs with food. My goal for each event is to provide a well-rounded menu where we can meet the needs of both mom and dad but also the kids as well. I have found over the years that people are more open to growth in their relationship with God when their expectations are exceeded and not just met. We see that play out especially well for the whole family when there is a good balance of meal options that everyone in the family can be happy with. As a dad of a young family, I know what the needs of young families are, and I hope that perspective makes me a better cook in the kitchen and a better food service manager.
When you’re not working up at Headwaters, what are you doing?
Right now when I am not at Headwaters or in the office in Kerrville preparing for the next weekend, I can usually be found doing something with my wife and the kids. When it is warm out, we love to go the park, ride bikes through the neighborhood, play games around the table, color pictures or in the case of my youngest right now, working on putting together puzzles on the living room floor.
If I jumped into your car right now, what kind of music would I hear?
Most likely you wouldn’t hear music but would most likely hear some form of talk radio. I like to listen to NPR while driving out to the Canyon or books on CD. I found a few years ago that I really enjoy listening to books as I travel, because it makes the time go by so much faster, and I get to “read” more books than I would otherwise have time for.
What was the last book you read, and did you enjoy it?
Based on a recommendation from Laity Lodge Youth Camp Senior Director Chandler Pruitt, the last book I completed was Unbroken, by Laura Hildebrand. I really enjoy reading books about American history and especially on World War II.
Plain or peanut M&Ms?
Peanut Butter actually. I find that it bridges the gap between both worlds.
What are your passions in life?
As a dad and father of a young family, it doesn’t seem like I have a lot time for much of anything else right now, but a new year’s resolution for 2015 is to find a community project where I can use my gifts and abilities to their fullest.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Summers during high school and early college years, I worked for a parks and recreation crew where we mostly cut grass and maintained the local park system. A strange aspect of the job included caring for funerals on the weekends in the local cemetery. Since the cemetery still had hand-dug graves, on more than one occasion it meant I was a part of digging those graves. Digging graves knowing that a vault and a casket was going inside in a matter of a few days really puts life and death into perspective.
Diet coke or coffee?
What’s your favorite treat?
Strange as it might sound – anything artificially banana flavored is marvelous, including an impossible-to-find banana milk.
If you could go anywhere in the world for vacation, where would you go?
A real dream vacation of mine is to go on a Band of Brothers Tour which was originally created by Steven Ambrose (one of my favorite authors of all time).
Fill in the blank: Chocolate is …
…an essential component to so many fantastic desserts and treats.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For years I really wanted to be a lawyer. The American judicial system has always really intrigued me.
Now what do you want to be when you grow up?
The best husband and father (and hopefully grandfather) that I can be.
Dogs or cats?
Cats have claws because they were intended to miss the Ark – so most definitely dogs.
What kind of ice cream do you hope they have this summer at Headwaters?
Blue Moon – imagine eating frozen fruit loops cereal.
Morning person or night owl?
Morning person most definitely.
If you enjoyed meeting Matt, meet more of our staff here!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
12 Months of Family Camp!
On the eleventh day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Eleven Family Crafts To Do
1) Instead of a Gingerbread House, decorate a Christmas tree using an ice cream cone and candy.
2) Put three large marshmallows on a sucker stick, dip in white chocolate and decorate with mini M’s and icing.
3) Candy cane marshmallows for hot cocoa ~ hang them on the side of your mug.
4) Ribbon Tree ornament or gift tag
5) Popsicle Stick Snowflakes
6) Paper Christmas Trees
7) 3D Paper Snowflakes
8) Beaded Candy Canes
9) Fingerprint Strand of Christmas Lights
10) More Popsicle Stick Crafts
11) Cinnamon Stick Christmas Trees
(We have many more ideas like this on our Pinterest Christmas Board – check it out!)
On the tenth day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Ten Last Minute Gift Ideas
1) Tickets to an upcoming event – Sporting, Music, Play…whatever best suits your recipient. Gifts of experience are often remembered far longer than physical gifts, so this one is a win-win.
2) Memberships to a museum, zoo, or other attraction – Parents in particular love this type of gift for their children because it’s not One. More. Toy.
3) A bottle of his or her favorite beverage – More thoughtful than another bottle of smelly hand soap, and yet still easy to run out and grab. Use a paint pen to write directly on the bottle.
4) Movie tickets (or a DVD) and a bag of popcorn – You can even make a plan to watch the movie together if quality time would be another appreciated gift.
5) Gift certificates – To a spa, to get a manicure, a wine tour . . . you can find meaningful gift certificates that don’t feel like a generic Target gift card (unless that’s the recipient’s favorite place to go!)
6) A donation in the recipient’s honor – Sometimes we wait until the last minute because it’s hard-to-buy-for person. Consider giving a donation to a cause the recipient cares about. You can still give a small gift that represents the donation (e.g. a tree ornament if you donated a tree, a jar of honey if you sponsored a beehive, etc)
7) Photos – These days our photos stay locked up in cyberspace. Print some of your favorites from the year and throw them into an album or frame a few. Don’t underestimate the value of physical photographs.
8) Mix CD or Personal playlist – Don’t just give an iTunes gift card, consider gifting a playlist that you put together or a mix CD.
9) Personal coupons – Make your own coupon book to be redeemed by the recipient. Could be your spouse or your children – have fun thinking about what they would appreciate from you. Here is a set of printable ones to get you started.
10) Chocolate – When in doubt, buy some the recipient’s favorite candy. If you’re feeling adventurous, find a pretty dish to put it into, wrap it up together, and voila!
On the ninth day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Nine Videos of Christmas Lights
1) Christmas Rock Medley
2) One Buffalo Christmas Lights
3) Bath (England) Video Mapping Light Show
4) Star Wars:
5) Larsen Lights: Let it Go
6) Trans-Siberian Orchestra
7) Johnson Family – Dubstep
8) Delaney Family Christmas Light Show (remix)
9) El Paso Christmas Lights Show
On the eighth day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Eight Ways to Take Camp Home
3. Get out into Nature. Go camping or just visit a city park that you haven’t been to before. Take a walk on or go hiking if you have a trail nearby.
4. Go out for ice cream! Pretend you are at the Outpost, grab some ice cream at your favorite ice cream shop, and then talk about your day.
5. Go rock climbing. Many cities have indoor rock climbing gyms. If you live in Texas, you can check out this list to see if there is one near you.
6. Make s’mores. Break out the fire pit or use a candle! Tell funny stories and enjoy a “sweet” time.
7. Invite a college student over to hang out with your family. This one may not seem as obvious to you, but our staff is a huge part of Family Camp! Build a relationship with a student, and who knows what amazing things might happen.
8. Plan a Family Camp weekend at home! Make your meals ahead of time or order take out to minimize the cooking. Unplug from all your screens. Plan a few crafts or fun activities, but leave open space to decide as a family what you want to do. In the evening, read a Scripture passage together or a devotional passage from a book like Exploring Grace Together.
On the seventh day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Seven Parenting Articles,
1. 14 Ways to Teach Children to be Thankful: Ann Voskamp shares some ideas for instilling gratitude into our families.
2. The Dirty Work of Motherhood: Tarissa Helms recounts her journey in becoming a stay-at-home mom.
3. Rethinking the Perfect Holiday: Glennon Melton of Momastery guides us through a difficult moment in a difficult season, and how she found beauty in the midst of it.
4. No More Wicked Stempmother: Charity Singleton Craig talks about her transition into being a step-mother.
5. When Your Heart Grows Three Sizes: Jim Liebelt provides some discussion points and questions to go along with the book (or movie) How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
6. My Mate is Not My Enemy: Explore the life-altering perspective found in the mantra, “my mate is not my enemy” over with Family Life.
7. Bulldozer Parenting: From our own blog, a two-part interview series with Marriage and Parenting experts, Sharon and Terry Hargrave. Are you a “bulldozer parent”? The phrase might not mean what you are thinking.
On the sixth day of Christmas, Family Camp gave to me . . .
Six Quotes from Camp,
8-year-old to staffer: “My middle name is Grace, and my sisters middle name is Joy . . . I think my brother’s is Satan.”
Camper: Daddy, lets get an Icee!
Dad: You know I pay for those things . . .
Camper: No, it just goes to your last name!
5-year-old upon pulling into Headwaters: “It’s so good to be home!”
6-year-old to Mom: “Mama, all the counselors have their smiles on their faces. Everyone likes a smile!”
14-year-old to Mom: “Go back to the cabin, Mom, so I can dance.”
5-year-old to staffer: “You’re not the boss of me, Ballbach is.”