Summer youth camp is beginning soon, and churches planning to send students to Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Davis had the opportunity to learn about what is in store for the Falls Creek experience this summer.
Last fall, the Falls Creek programming office informed all participating churches and announced in the Baptist Messenger the schedule of nine Falls Creek Regional Prep Meetings.
The nine meetings happened throughout the month of April in locations such as Ardmore, Checotah, Elk City, Lawton, Owasso, Tulsa, Woodward and twice in Oklahoma City. Every youth pastor or person responsible for each church group attending Falls Creek this summer was required to attend one of the meetings.
Among the content Falls Creek leadership covered, camp registration policies were addressed, as well as sponsor-selection policies and background checks for sponsors and campers who will be 18 years of age or older.
“We’ve seen good compliance with the churches,” said Todd Sanders, Falls Creek program director, who led all the regional prep meetings. “I’m confident we are heading in the right direction and appreciative of everyone’s willingness to be involved with the meetings, even though it is a difficult chore for many of them to get there.”
Sanders said required prep meetings have not occurred in a number of years, but after making an exception for a mandatory meeting this year, the plan for next year is to return to a mandatory online orientation process.
“That is our goal to move back to a robust online orientation,” Sanders said, “but this year, under the direction of our executive leadership, we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to communicate information pertinent to safety and security policy changes in a way that was consistent where everyone would receive that information in the same way at each meeting.”
All of the meetings were well attended, Sanders said, and he mentioned leaders of out-of-state churches made accommodations to attend a meeting.
“We have people flying in from all over the country to participate in Falls Creek because they see the value in what we are doing,” he said. “It’s humbling and encouraging just to see the reach of the ministry of Falls Creek youth camps and of Oklahoma Baptists in that way.”
The feedback from those who attended the meetings was positive.
“I thought it was really well done,” said Kent Jaggers, associate pastor to students at Mustang, First. “It goes to show how many people have to get on the same page in order to run camp with so many churches being a part of camp in the summer. That’s a lot of communication that has to happen in order to make sure kids are safe and have a great camp experience.”
Aaron Myers, associate pastor of students at Lawton, First, is one of the state youth leaders who participated in presenting camp information at different meetings.
“I think the meetings were important to get the understanding of where Falls Creek is coming from and what the BGCO (Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma) is trying to do to take care of students and protect the churches, as well,” Myers said. “With the clarifications of background checks, the dress code and just overall of what Falls Creek is continuing to do year after year, the meetings were helpful in making Falls Creek a safe place for students.”
Sanders also received encouraging comments from church leaders. He said, “A number of leaders thanked us for setting the pace for them and leading the charge within their congregations. Because of what youth camp requires, they are able to address safety in their churches and security on a broader scale as it relates to every ministry area in their church. I think what we do at youth camps and at CrossTimbers children’s camp sets the tone for a lot of our congregations and helps address this important issue.”
The first week of summer camp at Falls Creek is June 3-7. For more information, on the summer youth weeks at Falls Creek, visit skopos.org/fallscreek.