Building Stronger Families

My son Jackson was just six months old when he was the star of our family camp skit. We blared the Mission: Impossible theme over the pavilion speakers—the first movie had just come out—and I held Jackson at arm’s length, tossing him in the air and catching him like a pro. He flailed his arms and legs like Tom Cruise dropping into a top-secret room. That was our skit. We’ve grown since then.

At the time, the Foundation talked a lot about “renewal of the family,” and my wife Deborah and I were enthusiastic supporters of the 1990s family camp experiment. That experiment eventually grew into Headwaters, a facility dedicated to serving families.


Families are still the basic unit of our society, and stronger family connections can help us avoid adversity. But it goes both ways: healthy families can also help us become healthier individuals. That’s what the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded in their study “Family Connection and Flourishing Among Adolescents.”

In a healthy family, children feel cared for, supported, and loved. They feel a sense of agency when they are invited to make decisions that affect them. And when families spend quality time together, they are more likely to build stronger connections. They eat meals together, play together, and worship together.

It’s hard to believe, but this summer marks 10 years since we opened Headwaters! Families from all over come to hang out, play, and worship God. We’ve hosted over 1,000 families each year, and it’s amazing to see how they connect and support one another.

At Headwaters, families experience community in a form that rarely exists anymore.

At Headwaters, families experience community in a form that rarely exists anymore. Kids sleep in the same room, like families have done for centuries, and college kids become short-term cousins. Whether families register through their churches, a nonprofit group, or a Laity Lodge Family Camp retreat, we’re thrilled to see so many families finding renewal and connection at the campsite.

Raising a healthy family can seem like Mission: Impossible, but it doesn’t have to be. When we lean on each other and on God, we can be strong, resilient, and full of joy. Headwaters is helping us all remember just how strong our families can be!

P.S. Don’t forget to read our special feature celebrating 10 years of Headwaters.

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