To have a place to call home is a special blessing. For me, I have several places that I can call home, and for that I am extremely blessed and thankful. One place in particular is a little campground tucked in a corner of “the hundred acre wood” (aka Fall Creek Falls State Park).
It is here where about 180 people gather together two weeks out of the year to study God’s Word, meet fellow Christians, and be revived in their daily walk. Sounds pretty typical of a summer Bible camp, doesn’t it? But for me, this place and the people in it have always held a special place in my heart.
Camp is a place where…
– Young people study their Bibles in hammocks
– Hearts are convicted by God’s Word (Hebrews 4:12).
– God’s beautiful creation surrounds you on every side.
– People study the Bible because they want to.
– Spiritual discussions take place every day, even outside of Bible class and assembly.
– The rec hall is filled with Christians singing joyful praise to God.
– New members are added to the body of Christ.
– Hearts are revived to serve the Lord.
– You can see Christ’s love in action.
– You learn how to love like Christ loves.
– You will laugh at the random intercom announcements.
– Love surrounds us all.
My mother grew up here, and my dad became the assistant director not long after they married. I began as a camper at age 7, and I haven’t missed a year since. God has blessed me to continue going back, and I can’t thank Him enough, for the Bible camp there has truly impacted my life for the better. One friend in particular, Rosa, has literally grown up with me there, and it’s crazy to look back at our 7-8 year old selves and believe that we were both counselors this year, helping out with girls who are our age when we started.
But as we all know, it is not so much the physical location that makes a place special, but the people you enjoy it with.
In 1956, a man named Jim Mac Foust had the idea of starting a Bible camp in a brand-new campground right smack in the middle of Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee. Little did he know the domino effect that would take place from his vision.
Years later as the camp grew and he could not oversee the camp any longer, Bill Roy took his place as director. He also left a wonderful legacy of faith and love for children, and his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are now beloved assets to the camp.
Now, we have Jack James (aka “the Jackalope”, so called by Bill Roy), who began at Fall Creek Falls as a young counselor. He knew the grounds, the schedule, the people just like anyone else, but he often tells us that he didn’t feel quite ready to take on the challenging, and yet rewarding responsibility of camp director. However, surely in God’s providence, he was placed here for a purpose, and that is to help lead more young people to Christ as he is so adequately doing.
Even as Jack continues to oversee and direct Bible camp, I can see his godly legacy clearly forming around him. Not only is it apparent in his character, but also in his words and actions. He loves children and young people. He likes to aggravate them, and he will get on to them if they misbehave, but from his heartfelt and grandfatherly hugs, to his reminders of “God loves you, and I love you”, his light shines even brighter. Anyone can see that Jack treasures what he does, for he will emphatically declare multiple times, “I love Bible camp!” Many a time have I seen him tear up while the whole camp sings, “The Greatest Commands”. Truly, Jack James has made camp a second home for me because he loves the Lord above all else.
But even more than our camp director, Fall Creek Falls has become my home away from home because of the family there. We are all either members of Christ’s body or learning how to become one (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). This fellowship in Christ brings us closer not only as friends, but as brothers and sisters. We grow our relationships just by being together for one cause: growing closer to the Lord.
The most important relationship that can be kindled at Bible camp is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus, we can become children of God, as Galatians 3:26-28 says: “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Whether we as followers of Christ renew our relationship with the Lord, or whether one begins his or her relationship by obeying the gospel, being a part of God’s family is what makes the camp family knit so close together (Colossians 2:2).
From worship under the sunset and laughs around the campfire to watching the sparks from the bonfire fly upward to meet the stars, I will always remember moments at Bible camp when time seems to stand still and everything just seems right with the world.
It is hard to leave such a wonderful place, a place our camp family calls “the best place on earth”. Fall Creek Falls Summer Bible Camp encourages us, convicts us through God’s Word, changes our lives back home, and most importantly reminds us how indescribably glorious heaven will be one day when we are together with God for eternity.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”