I recall a $100 shopping cart full of groceries would feed me for a month when I was 22. I was single, so it was a lot of macaroni and cheese, but $100 went a lot further. Thirty years later, I still measure the value of $100 against how many groceries it purchases. The other day I checked out of the grocery store with four bags, and it totaled nearly $100!
It may be human nature to compare the cost of goods and services today with our major purchasing experiences of the past. Do we intuitively impress “economic marker points” in our minds for comparison today? Maybe it’s the cost of your first house (now that makes an impression). Maybe a pick-up truck now costs more than your first home. Maybe it’s a candy bar that used to cost 25 cents and now costs $2.65. Maybe it’s the price of a McDonald’s hamburger. Maybe it is the price of summer camp.
An Arkansas Baptist Assembly brochure (given to me by Mrs. Betty Wilfong, long time member of Immanuel Baptist in Little Rock) shows fees for a week of camp in 1970 were $34.50; with a $2.00 deposit to reserve your spaces. The charge for a single guest meal in 1970 was .75 cents. When I started at Camp Siloam in 2010, four nights and five days of summer camp was $130. The summer camp rate had not changed in five years. It was affordable; however, we had lost the ability to maintain the facilities and the programs at that rate.
Camp Siloam was created to serve the churches of Arkansas—ALL the churches of Arkansas. In recent years I have noticed some churches who came to Camp Siloam ten years ago no longer attend camp. This breaks my heart. The desire of the staff and Board of Trustees at Camp Siloam is that every child and every church who wants to come to camp would be able to do so. We have a saying, “no child will be turned away from Camp Siloam because of price.” However, it appears price has become an obstacle. If you are one of the churches who has stopped coming because of price we want to invite you back. We have made a way for you and your campers to return.
It is our desire to host camp to a high standard of excellence. We strive for clear Gospel-centered teaching, gifted evangelists bringing a meaningful message crafted to engage young people, excellence in worship music, distinctive camp-oriented activities, excellence in hospitality and guest services. We create this standard for no other reason than to remove any obstacle which may be between a camper and the cross.
God asked Israel to worship Him by bringing Him their best, a lamb without defects. To raise a lamb without defects (Leviticus 9) would take a lot of care from a good shepherd. A shepherd must give their best in their labor in order to present their best in worship. As caretakers at Camp Siloam where the presence of our Heavenly Father is rich, we give our best. The Lord told Israel if they worshipped by “bringing their best” then the glory of the Lord would appear to them. (Leviticus 9:6)
We value the presence of the Lord. We value excellence and distinctiveness. We value doing all of this in a wilderness setting balanced with some of the comforts of home. We value 400 campers coming to faith in Christ each year. We value campers making commitments to missions and full-time ministry. We hope all we do is of great value to you.
We are sensitive to the delicate balance between excellence, value and price. Through the generosity of God’s people, we are able to provide scholarships for churches and campers who cannot afford to come to camp. Our application process is simple. Churches apply for and distribute scholarships to their campers based upon the need they see. As of April 20, we have $60,000 to give away. We are committed to raising even more in the future. The average scholarship award for a church is around $2,000. Those funds are funds your church can use to give to those in need and minister directly to families in your community.
To find the scholarship application, please go to www.campsiloam.com and click on the “Camps” link and scroll down to “Scholarships.”