This recap of the first two weeks of camp was written by Camp Director Jason Wilkie.
As a new youth pastor, recommending a new camp to a church is a risky proposal. For many churches summer camp is rich with tradition and deep seeded memories. For Mason Wills, new youth pastor at Reynolds Baptist Church in Paragould, the risk paid off. Wills worked at Camp Siloam in 2021 as a summer staff member. He took a youth pastors position at Reynolds Baptist Church shortly after graduating from Williams Baptist University. Wills knew firsthand how God meets students at Camp Siloam. He encouraged his church to come to Camp Siloam for the first time in 2022. His youth leaders were hesitant because of the cost, however, after Tuesday night, they decided it was worth it.
In the second night of camp, 39 campers came forward during the altar call and expressed they had a desire to explore a call to missions or full-time ministry. In a single evening, more campers expressed a call to missions or full-time ministry than all of last year.
“This year, our emphasis was the Great Commission,” said Jason Wilkie, Executive Director of Camp Siloam. “Camp Siloam’s mission is to teach young people they have an identity in Christ, they have a purpose in God’s kingdom, and God’s mission for the world. Every third summer we emphasize one of these points with the program. Last night, the response at the altar call tells me campers are listening and God’s spirit is moving.”
This summer Camp Siloam is using the life and story of the Apostle Paul to describe God’s call to reach the nations. Each year Camp Siloam writes a large-scale theatrical production that parallels a biblical story. This year, the story is set in a science fiction steampunk world of railroads and steam-related inventions. Scriptural teaching is done by camp pastors.
Here are some of the impact stories from week number two:
Karen Hayes of FBC Prairie Grove, said there was an intense argument in the cabin between two of her elementary school campers on the first day. After the fight she asked Cathy Flack, Camp Siloam prayer partner coordinator and administrative assistant, to pray for peace in the bunkhouse. The next day one of the girls who was in the argument found eternal peace in the salvation of Jesus Christ. Karen said she was a different girl the rest of the week.
Lance Adams, pastor from FBC Dardanelle, said he had five kids saved the first night. On Tuesday morning over coffee, Adams joked with the Camp Siloam staff that camp was over, God had done his work, it was time to pack up and head home. Later in the week his daughter Raylynn prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior. One of our staff members shared with her the three circles method of sharing the Gospel. As the staff member drew the three circles she said, “Are you the perfect circle, the broken circle or the restored circle?” Adams’s adopted daughter, Raylynn, replied, “I’m the broken circle, but I’d like to be the perfect circle.” She prayed to receive Christ that evening.
Dawn Laney from Impact Church, a church plant in Ozark, Arkansas, said, “Last year we decided to try a camp other than Camp Siloam. We are a new church. We are trying to save for a building and the cost of camp was getting expensive. However, we didn’t have the same experience there as we have at Camp Siloam. This year we wanted to come back to Siloam and scholarships made it possible.”
Laney described several campers who came this year were coming from homes wracked with divorce and upheaval. Impact Church had one scholarship left and Laney told their churched campers to invite a lost friend and they would give them a scholarship. By Wednesday evening of the first week of camp, the invited friend gave her life to Jesus. Laney said the camper began memorizing Scripture because the staff was encouraging it through the program. Laney said, “Scripture memory came easily to her because it was in her heart.”
On Wednesday evening during group time, Laney said there was a lot of sharing, but it was time to break for evening recreation and fun. A counselor said, “Let’s pray and then you can be dismissed for evening rec.” After the prayer, one elementary school camper raised her hand and asked, “Can we pray for each other?” They began to pray for one another; not in any hurry because they were going to miss recreation, but slowly and thoughtfully, each camper prayed for the others. When they were done, the evening recreation was over. As they were stepping out of the pavilion one camper said, “We forgot to pray for our leaders.” So, all the children prayed for the adults who came to camp as counselors with them.
Scott Poynter from FBC Dardanelle said his son came home from Camp Siloam in 2021 and declared “Dad you’ve got to go with me next year.” In 2022 Scott came as a counselor with his church. Scott said he has been so impressed with the quality of the Camp Siloam summer college staff and the program. “Y’all do an amazing job of camp ministry. I’ll be back next year,” said Poynter.
As of this article 81 people have made professions of faith, 39 have made commitments to missions or full-time ministry and 35 have made recommitments to following Jesus. It’s not too late to sign up for camp, but there is only one week remaining that has open spots. Week six has 90 spots available. Camp Siloam has 6,033 spaces reserved for summer camp. Five of the six remaining weeks are full.
It has been a slow return ministry as we know it since the COVID pandemic. All praise and glory to our Father in Heaven for carrying His ministry at Camp Siloam through to this amazing summer.