Each summer, for 99 years, God has authored stories of Kingdom impact at Camp Siloam. In many areas, summer 2022 was a banner year for Camp Siloam. The Great Commission was an emphasis and as a result, we saw 148 people express an interest in exploring missions or full-time ministry. Twelve Camp Siloam summer staff members surrendered to that call.
Attendance for all this summer’s camp programs was 5,795 campers. Many of the 228 churches represented were new to Camp Siloam in 2022.
This summer, Camp Siloam emphasized God’s mission for the world, using the conversion of Paul to share what it means for campers to answer God’s call to take the Good News to the nations. Through the theatrical production of “Steampunk’d,” Camp Siloam drew metaphors out of the biblical story of Paul and put them into a whimsical science-fiction steampunk setting. Each morning Baptist Collegiate Ministry Directors from around the state taught the story of Paul and expressed God’s call to us all to be on mission for Him. Each evening camp pastors gave a theme interpretation on being called to go to the nations.
As of this report, we have seen 574 campers make professions of faith. This is the highest total of salvations in the last 12 years. Praise God! We also saw 156 campers make recommitments, 116 report an interest in baptism, and 148 interested in exploring a call to missions or full-time ministry.
Here are some of the Kingdom impact stories of summer 2022. (The names of minors have been changed to protect their identity.)
Lillian Wilkie, daughter of Director Jason Wilkie, and a staff lifeguard was in the worship service one evening when Camp Pastor, Ronnie Hill, was bringing the altar call for people who felt called to missions or full-time ministry. Wilkie was hesitant. She found herself wanting to move toward the altar, but not able to find the courage. She was crying quietly to herself when, from behind her, she felt a hand on her shoulder from co-staffer Kayden Summers, from the University of Central Arkansas. He said, “You got this.” His simple words were the nudge she needed to go forward. Wilkie ended up formally surrendering to explore God’s call on her life for missions and she is planning to take her first mission trip during spring break in 2023.
Matt Stubbs, summer staff member from the University of Central Arkansas met a camper named Oscar, while running the “soctoball” tournament. Asking Oscar some questions, Stubbs was able to determine the boy wasn’t saved. Stubbs used the tournament whiteboard to show Oscar the Gospel using the Three Circles method. Oscar responded by stating he felt he had done enough good to go to Heaven. Stubbs replied, “Salvation is not based upon good works.” Oscar needed some time to think about it, so Stubbs said, “I’ll be near the front at the end of each worship service. See me if you have other questions.” Oscar didn’t need much more time. Five minutes later, Oscar came back to Stubbs and said, “I don’t think I’m a Christian. I think I need Jesus.” Stubbs, who had responsibilities running the tournament, found someone to help and took Oscar to a quiet place where he could pray with him. Oscar came to Jesus in the shade near the recreation fields at Camp Siloam because Stubbs saw what was most important in that moment.
Jason Whitmire, from First Baptist Church (FBC) in Augusta, had several families who needed scholarships for campers. Whitmire went back and forth in his mind on what to apply for. He did not want to take advantage of the system, but he had some families who had significant need. In the end he applied for the amount of one full scholarship and planned to distribute that among the families. After sending in the application he talked with Cathy Flack, Camp Siloam’s scholarships coordinator. Flack listened to the needs of the church and told Whitmire she would email the following week after the scholarship committee had met. Whitmire described being overwhelmed with emotion when he opened the email and saw that Camp Siloam awarded FBC Augusta five times the amount Whitmire requested because of the need he expressed to Flack. We are thankful for all of our donors who contributed to making scholarships for campers possible at Camp Siloam
Johnna Jones wins the “toughest counselor of the year” award. On Tuesday night of her week of camp she had a gall bladder attack. She was taken to the local hospital emergency room and surgeons removed her gall bladder that night laparoscopically. Jones said, “My torso looks as if I’ve been shot by buckshot.” She was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday and returned to camp for the rest of the week, sleeping on a bunkbed and participating as she could in camp activities.
This summer felt like a pre-pandemic summer at Camp Siloam. Attendance was even with our 2019 attendance. We hope we can continue to grow from here. We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father who has been faithful to continue Jesus’ ministry at Camp Siloam.