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5,000-plus campers fill Camp Siloam in 2017

5,000-plus campers fill Camp Siloam in 2017

Aug 7, 2017

SILOAM SPRINGS – “I’ve never had someone who I had never met before put their hand on my shoulder and pray for me,” said Jessie Paul, Ironton Baptist Church in Little Rock. “It was the best feeling in the world. Doug [Compton] had some great messages and definitely changed my outlook on life. This was one of the best weeks ever!”

Students at Camp Siloam pray during an altar call at the 2017 summer camp experience.

Students at Camp Siloam pray during an altar call at the 2017 summer camp experience.

At Camp Siloam, children and youth come with the expectation of God moving in big ways. From the most broken of families, to the strongest of relationships, campers come ready to worship their heavenly Father in an environment where they not only feel safe, but also feel freed from the burdens that this world is weighing them down with.

“Thank you for teaching children to worship and be in the Word,” said Cherie Estes, First Baptist Church in Morrilton. “They need this so desperately in the broken families and world we live in. It was a great week; the staffers were very helpful. Great food, great atmosphere, I was impressed from the moment we pulled in and we were prayed for in our vehicles.”

Each summer, Camp Siloam leaders write a five-part drama to convey the annual theme. The theme ties into each summer’s programming, as well. This year’s theme is “Cave Match: Time to Rock.”

In the Bible, Esther 4:14 (NIV) says, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” This summer, Camp Siloam is exploring what it looks like to live a courageous life for God in the circumstances we are placed in, boldly standing up for our faith even when times may get tough.

“I had a great week at camp. Each year, I come with a life that is horrible and full of sin, but here at Siloam, God moves and speaks,” said Josiah Faught, First Baptist Church in Jasper. He said one of the things he likes best about the camp is the worship service. “The band is awesome, but the message is great!”

The worship services at Camp Siloam are the most talked about activity at camp. In addition to the creative programming, Camp Siloam also asks the speakers to be very intentional in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, making sure campers fully understand the complete and perfect truth of the Word of God.

“I believe that this was the best camp experience that I have ever had,” said John Reppond, Pleasant Valley Baptist Church in Heber Springs. “The staff here is awesome,
and the speakers were amazing. The Lord did work in my heart this week to give me a renewed commitment to serve Him.”

What makes Camp Siloam so effective in sharing the gospel are the same elements that have worked since the old-school tent revivals: a large group of people setting aside time, praying, expecting God to move, retreating to the wilderness and listening to the teaching of the Word of God multiple times. This summer, Camp Siloam has seen 340 campers give their lives to Christ and could see more than 400 professions of faith by the end of this summer.

“I realized that I wasn’t praying about God’s plan for me, so I started. Last year I was called to missions, but I haven’t acted on that yet, so I decided to start praying that God would use me to reach others and to teach me how, not just overseas, but every day,” said Joy Calwell, First Baptist Church in Hackett.

“Every year has been amazing, helping draw me closer to Christ, along with my church group,” said Riley Keafer, First Baptist Church of Omaha. “God has worked in many of the lives around me.” She added that the Camp Siloam experience “changes so many lives every day. Camp Siloam is my home away from home.”

By the end of the summer, Camp Siloam is expecting 216 churches to bring 5,229 campers from seven states to Siloam Springs. With this being the last summer in the old Hatfield Dining Hall, a building that has stood for more than 94 years, the staff is looking forward to seeing God bring even more campers to Camp Siloam next year due to the new facility.

In January, Camp Siloam was awarded a $250,000 challenge grant from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. Camp Siloam was given one year to finish raising the remaining balance of $600,000 of the $3.4 million goal for the Feed My Sheep campaign for a new dining hall. If Camp Siloam is unable to raise this remaining amount by January 1, 2018, the Mabee Foundation will retract a $250,000 award, according to Jason Wilkie, Camp Siloam executive director.

Because of the condition of the dining hall, this is currently the greatest need to be met at Camp Siloam. Without a new dining hall, the camp ministry will not be able to continue, said Wilkie.

“I am so grateful for the generosity of people throughout the state who have made it possible for us to reach 80 percent of our goal,” said Wilkie. “So many gifts have laid the foundation for the $1 million gift of the Bonner Family and grant from the Mabee Foundation. We are so close!”

Founded in 1923 as the Arkansas Baptist Assembly, Camp Siloam has been sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ for more than 94 years with thousands of people. Each week of summer camp consists of a live worship band, youth and children’s speakers, entertaining drama and
recreation.

The camp offers a Blast Camp, for campers who have completed 3rd-6th grade; Forge Camp, for campers who have completed 6th-12th grade and Infusion, a combination of both Blast and Forge campers.

During the off-season of summer camp, Camp Siloam functions as a retreat and conference center.

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