By Jason Wilkie

Executive Director, Camp Siloam

Thoughtful design

By Jason Wilkie

Executive Director, Camp Siloam

“Excellence is necessary, but distinctiveness will set you apart,” is a core value my father, William Wilkie, taught me. His point: excellence is all around us, but something needs to set an organization apart. How does Camp Siloam set itself apart from other camps?   

What we do differently than any other camp is what will draw people to Camp Siloam. What is our distinctive X factor? One could say it is our new facilities, but it could be said new facilities are just maintaining excellence. One could say it is our worship services (which most campers say is their favorite part of camp) however, there is nothing distinctive about Camp Siloam worship services. Our collegiate worship leaders each year bring a high standard of excellence when it comes to worship.  

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A scene from a previous production.

One might say the rich presence of God makes Camp Siloam distinctive. I would say His rich presence is wonderful and unique, but it is not something we control. His presence is the legacy of the prayer warriors and the faithful who founded and led Camp Siloam before us. We are just trying not to mess it up. One could argue it is the theatrical production paralleling a Biblical story that is distinctive. I know of only a few camps who do theatre the way we do, but the drama is only the visible results of something deeper. 

Camp Siloam’s distinctive X factor is our core value, “We are Designers.”  The designer core value is birthed out of a characteristic of God, The Father. Genesis chapter one describes the thoughtful design of God the Creator. The Creator was masterful in the detail with which He designed the universe, from the bizarre behavior of electrons to the magnificence of galaxies. On earth, His creativity extends from the extravagant diversity of flowers to the genus confounding platypus. (One must think God created the platypus with a sense of humor knowing humans would try to classify this mishmash of mammal and bird.) Genesis 1:27 says that God created man in His own image. Could The Father’s characteristic of Creator/Designer be part of His image in which He created you and me?   

Design is similar to creativity. However, design speaks to being deeply thoughtful about how one goes about the details of work. When scientists refer to the idea of God they refer to “intelligent design.”  The notion that creation could have purpose, planning and intention behind it is why scientists use “intelligent design.”  

The concept of design is growing in importance in our culture. When design is done well it attracts our attention. For example, if you remember the release of the first iPhone in 2007, what was it that caught your attention? It was the touch screen that kept scrolling even after you let go of it. It was a “WOW” factor, but at its core the iPhone was simply fantastic design.  

At Camp Siloam, we highly value our process for creatively, thoughtfully designing, in detail, key elements of our programs and facilities. How the process manifests itself to our guests is in the theme, drama, and talking points of Scripture. It shows how our staff engage campers in conversation, how the schedule is structured and how the dining hall flows. Ultimately, it is about removing obstacles which lie between a camper and the cross. 

I should warn you, the one drawback of design thinking in organizations is that it takes extra time and energy. It doesn’t have to cost more. In fact, sometimes the lack of financial resources creates the best design thinking (i.e., “necessity is the mother of invention”). Design does require additional meetings, conversation, planning and thinking, but the Kingdom results are worth it.  


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