At the B.W. Jackson outdoor chapel on the grounds of Camp Caraway, there is a plaque in honor of Jackson reminding people of the purpose of Camp Caraway – to introduce children to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In 1999, when the chapel was named after Jackson, more than 6,000 boys received Christ as their Lord and Savior at Camp Caraway. Fifteen years later, that number is now closer to 10,000, says Mark Moore, Caraway’s summer camp director.
“That’s why we exist. Every camper who comes to Camp Caraway is going to receive truth from God’s Word and they are going to receive opportunities to respond to God’s Word,” Moore said.
Camp Caraway first opened in 1963 and until last year it was exclusively a camp for boys.
Through its Camp Caraway for Boys, a weeklong camp offered during four weeks throughout the summer for boys 9-17 years old, campers are introduced to Christ through a variety of means, including daily Bible studies with a camp pastor and through interactions with missionaries and counselors.
The camps also include numerous activities including team building games, swimming in the lake or pool, zip line and paintball. “We use fun, first of all, to share the love of Jesus, to develop healthy relationships, to share the importance of missions and to create lasting, teachable moments,” Moore said.
Last year Caraway expanded its summer camp experience by offering its first ever co-ed children’s camp, Camp Caraway for Children. The weeklong Christian children’s camp is for boys and girls who have completed grades 1-6.
The camp was offered for one week last year, but this year Caraway offered it for two weeks to accommodate a growing interest in the children’s camp.
“Our numbers for children’s camp has nearly doubled this year,” Moore said. “We are excited about what God is doing through Camp Caraway as we explore ways to reach as many children as possible for Christ.”
To that end, Caraway introduced two additional first-time camps this summer: a father-daughter and mother-son mini camp. Moore said the purpose of the two-day camps is similar to the weeklong boys and co-ed camps, but with the added emphasis of helping parents learn how to be disciple-makers in the home.
“The connection between family and faith development is important,” Moore said. “The purpose of these camps is to create intentional time for parents to be together with their children to do fun things with them that lead to spiritual growth.”
Moore said many parents in today’s world are burdened by hectic schedules that leave little room for true rest and discipleship moments with their children. “We want parents to feel welcome here, to find rest here and to focus on their relationship with their child and their relationship with God while they are here,” he said. “We also want parents to be reminded that these are the most important relationships they’ll ever have and that God has entrusted them with the responsibility of raising their children to be godly adults.”
The new camp experience, Moore said, is also designed to instill disciple-making in the children, too.
“We are intentional in challenging and encouraging both children and parents to follow Christ and be godly people who make disciples,” he said. “Like church, camp is a ministry that, when used properly, fuels discipleship at home.”
In addition to the four weeklong boy’s camps, two weeklong children’s camp, and the father-daughter and mother-son mini camps, Caraway is hosting four father-son mini camps in 2014.
Going forward, Moore said the camps for boys would continue to be a central focus of Caraway’s summer camp experience. “We love boy’s camps, and we will continue boy’s camp so long as God allows us to do it,” he said. “But our new camps are important, too, because they are an avenue that we can use to reach more people for Christ than we have ever done before.”