This is an official press release from Camp Siloam

Siloam Springs, AR, September 8th, 2021:  Camp Siloam is excited to announce the construction of a new bunkhouse with a groundbreaking at 11:00 am on Thursday, September 9th. The new bunkhouse replaces 120 beds that were lost during a tornado on October 20th, 2019.   

“This new bunkhouse will be remembered as an example of God’s faithfulness,” said Jason Wilkie, Executive Director at Camp Siloam. “We have come through a lot in the last 24 months; windstorms, virus crisis and floods. In the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown, we were uncertain whether we would be standing here today. Truly, this is a celebration of, not only, the beginning of construction, but God’s faithfulness to see His ministry through some difficult times.” 

The new bunkhouse will continue the design aesthetic that the camp has been working developing the last several years and will be a prototype for future bunkhouses at the camp. 

Camp Siloam’s current lodging was constructed in the early 1960s. Knowing the replacement of nine bunkhouses will need to take place in the next few years, the leadership of Camp Siloam toured several camps in 2019 studying camp lodging. The Camp Siloam staff brainstormed features of the new building from all angles; safety, comfort, programming flexibility, housekeeping, and maintenance.   

Architect Steve Elliott, a partner at Lewis Architects & Engineers in Little Rock, took the list of design features the camp staff had developed and created a bunkhouse that has camper safety first. The staff then showed the designs to focus groups of adult leaders. Changes were made to the design based on their comments. 

“Camper safety was our number one priority in this design. Having input from people who bring kids to camp was very important to us. Using our knowledge of child protection issues and of counselors based upon their experiences, we feel we have a proto-type lodging unit that will be attractive to camp guests,” said Wilkie 

The new bunkhouse sits close to Little Beaver Creek flowing through camp and features a 10’ wrap-around porch for guests to enjoy the natural beauty of the outdoors in the comfort of their lodging. Other design features include rooms that can accommodate different sized groups, more spacious rooms that will allow beds to be spaced further apart, bathroom facilities that provide a private changing area and that can be easily cleaned multiple times a day without disrupting guests.   

Ellingson Construction, headquartered in Siloam Springs will be the contractor on the bunkhouse. The bunkhouse will cost $1.7 million to construct.  

“Each summer we see, on average 8-9% of our campers make professions of faith,” said Wilkie. “It doesn’t matter if there are 3,000 campers or 9,000, historically the percentage of professions of faith remains the same. It’s a simple formula, the more campers we have, the greater impact Jesus’ ministry has. Losing beds reduces the impact of the ministry.” 

Camp Siloam is a large camp when comparing camps by the industry-standard: number of beds. The ability to host 950 campers in a week is one of the ways Camp Siloam can remain a great value for families. To lose capacity would impact Camp Siloam’s ability to keep camp affordable.   

The need for a new bunkhouse was made urgent on October 21st, 2019, when a tornado hit the camp. The tornado damaged 12 buildings and did $1.2 million dollars worth of damage to the camp. A large oak tree fell onto the Moose Bunkhouse creating structural damage that was beyond repair.   

Camp Siloam was set to present a new bunkhouse to the Board of Trustees in March of 2020 when the coronavirus hit America and Arkansas went on lockdown. The Board of Trustees voted in late May of 2020 to cancel all of the 2020 summer camps. Construction plans were put on hold until the camp leadership could prove its solvency. 

By God’s grace Camp Siloam had a successful 2021 summer Camp Siloam was able to show trustees, guests and donors that it remained a viable ministry. A large gift, anonymous gift of $400,000 at the end of July gave the Board of Trustees and Ellingson Construction enough seed funding to start the project. Camp Siloam still needs to raise $351,00 by next April to complete the project. 

Questions and or gifts to the bunkhouse project can be directed to Executive Director, Jason Wilkie at jasonw@campsiloam.com or 479-250-1865. 

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