Founded in 1961, Cale: Camp and Conference Center’s 100 acres are located in Hertford, where the Perquimans River flows into Albemarle Sound.
The camp attracted the largest number of campers in its history through its 2016 summer camps.
“The spiritual impact for the Kingdom of God is tremendous at Cale,” said director Matt Thomas, who is excited for the growth of the camp. “We want to be that place where people come to know Christ, grow deeper in their faith and build relationships as the body of Christ.”
This year, Camp Cale’s summer theme was “Upside Down,” inspired by a Billy Sunday quote and the scripture “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6b HCSB). And turn the world, or at least the camp, upside down is what Cale did.
Camp Cale had its largest year on record with 424 campers this summer. They offered seven weeks of camp for both children and teens. All of the children’s weeks were at maximum capacity. Of the 424 campers, 27 made first-time decisions for Christ and another 98 campers rededicated their lives to Christ.
The campers that made decisions comprised nearly one-quarter of the camp’s total attendance this summer, helping Camp Cale reach their stated purpose of sharing Christ, developing faith and building community.
Thomas said Camp Cale’s main goal is “relationship evangelism, through our counselors, that allow the counselors to look for teachable moments to make a spiritual connection.”
To foster this spiritual connection, campers attend worship services twice every day. During the week there was live music, a variety of speakers and many opportunities to hear the gospel.
Susan Buzzard from Sawyer’s Creek Baptist Church in Camden, led counselors to create “cardboard testimonies,” illustrating their lives before they received Christ on one side of the cardboard and the change Christ brought to their lives on the other side. Counselors shared these with enthusiastic campers who then decided to create their own cardboard testimonies the next day.
Another speaker, Nathan Lawrenson, worship and creative arts and connections group coach at Nags Head Church in the Outer Banks, spoke about sharing your “Jesus story” and helped campers put their own “Jesus stories” or testimonies about what Jesus is doing in their lives into words.
In addition to times of worship, counselors are also given opportunities to forge spiritual connections by establishing relationships through the camp’s many activities such as archery, shooting, sailing, kayaking, canoeing, high and low ropes courses, rock wall climbing and an indoor basketball court.
Marty Dupree, evangelism consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, who was also a speaker at Camp Cale this summer, shared that Camp Cale “is one of the best kept secrets in N.C. Baptist life. It … has everything from boating and water sport to sports fields, basketball courts.”
The growth during this past record setting year makes the need for more bunkhouses critical. There were several weeks this summer that all of the campers who wanted to attend were not able to be accommodated within the existing bunkhouses. Camp Cale plans to build two new bunkhouses, with 40 beds each. Thomas told the Biblical Recorder that the date the building project begins will depend on the funding levels, but he hopes work on the project will start in early 2017.
In order to raise money for the new bunkhouses, Camp Cale will host “An Evening at Cale” fundraiser Sept. 17. The event will be 6-9 p.m. and tickets cost $25 each. The evening will be filled with music, entertainment, heavy hors d’oeuvres and many door prizes. All proceeds from the event will go to the Bunkhouse Fund.
The facility offers summer camps for youth and children, adventure activities, open-air or enclosed lodging options and a conference center available for rentals. The camp was started by Chowan Baptist Association, which spans 10 counties and 68 churches. When Camp Cale began 55 years ago, its goal was to minister to churches and people within the association but has grown to include campers from across North Carolina and Virginia.
In addition to youth and children summer camps, Camp Cale offers its facilities for rentals throughout the year. The center also hosts events and training opportunities for Chowan Baptist Association.
“It is ideal for a church staff or deacons retreat, … men’s retreat or a father-son retreat,” Dupree said. “The highlight for Cale is the opportunities provided to minister to young people and share the gospel with them, and see young people come to know Christ as Lord and Savior.”
For more information visit campcale.com or call (252) 264-2513.