DAVIS—Since its beginning in 1947, Indian Falls Creek (IFC) has come a long way. With so many historic years behind, this year was one to be remembered.
IFC is recognized as the largest gathering of Indian Christians in the United States, and hosts campers representing between 25-40 tribes and more than 250 churches each year, as well as non-Native people.
During the camp, held July 27-31, more than 800 children participated in Vacation Bible School (VBS), while more than 500 attended the daily Children’s Church services. This year’s VBS featured LifeWay Christian Resources’ Agency D3 materials.
This year’s theme centered on Rom. 8:37, “We are more than conquerors,” and encouraged the Native people to be equipped to reach other Native Americans.
God moved among the Native people this year, with 128 attendees making professions of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Other decisions during camp included 41 recommitments; three assurance of salvation; seven called to ministry; three called to special service and nine other decisions.
Selfless service to others also was expressed by the 153 campers who donated a unit of blood during the annual IFC blood drive, and 23 others who added their names to the bone marrow registry as possible bone marrow donors.
Each year, campers also are involved in many opportunities for Christian fellowship.
Executive Director Victor Cope shared some of the favorite things he sees each year at IFC.
“The greatest joy is when we see people coming down the aisles, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Also, seeing the children’s faces as they’re out there swimming, seeing the men and women surrendering to ministry and seeing families and churches come together, because we’re a family camp,” Cope said.
Planning a family-oriented camp is no easy task, but Cope says it’s all done in joy.
One of the main ways campers are encouraged to fellowship begins with their family units. This year, 2,447 people attended IFC. One of the families registered for IFC was the Jackson family, including parents Jake Jackson and his wife Molline Jackson, their daughter Tusa Scraper and her husband Lawrence Scraper, Jr., their son John Beaver and wife Meagan Beaver, along with their grandchildren Adisyn Beaver, Richie Beaver and Hannah Beaver.
“We had an opportunity and discussed as a family to go someplace (for vacation) this summer; we even talked about going to Florida,” Jackson said. “But, the Lord had better plans and brought us together as a family here.”
The family always congregates together for IFC and picks up right where they left off. Jake Jackson joined the family later in life, but he has been a spiritual leader in their home ever since.
“(IFC) plays a major role in our family,” Jackson said. “I think a lot of it is the fact that it is very spiritual for any family. I think it is important that (the spiritual) plays a major role in our family. We have a (spiritual) responsibility as men, according to the Bible, to lead our families.”
His wife, Molline, said she believes the camp has encouraged the men to embrace and obey their purpose in this life.
“I think that a lot of (the speakers) have really made an effort to challenge the men among our Indian people to step up and be the men God wants them to be,” she said.
Tusa Scraper came onto these familiar grounds to revive the fond childhood memories stored at IFC. Scraper shared how IFC takes the family back in time as those young campers once again.
“I could hardly sleep the first night and (lay awake) thinking, ‘Yes! Falls Creek! It has been a while.’ It’s been a while since we’ve been here, and coming back as an adult now, it’s so different compared to when I was eight, and whenever we last came,” Scraper said.
Scraper added that growing in different ways through her quiet times with the Lord is what she was most excited about.
As those familiar memories were being relived, they were being relived with all generations. Meagan Beaver also attended IFC as a child, and with children of her own, she got to see them experience and cherish the same memories.
“As Tusa said, it’s so different, especially when you have kids because you want them to do the things you did,” Beaver said. “(For example), we want to take them back to the ‘Gum Tree’ we have always contributed to, or go swimming and feel the cold water at (Boulder Springs). I want to show them things that I looked forward to do when I was younger; that is what I want them to do now.”
Adisyn, Richie and Hannah Beaver have not only been introduced to the Gum Tree and Boulder Springs, they also have been fierce competitors in the Junior Olympics, winning many first place ribbons in their respective contests.
When asked what contests they won, Richie and Hannah mischievously chuckled and refused to talk about their victories. However, the oldest, Adisyn, smiled and shyly admitted her dominance in running.
The children became accustomed to the air-conditioned tabernacle that shelters heat exhausted campers. However, as John Beaver reminisced, he was still getting used to the changes since he and the family last came.
“It has changed a lot since we’ve been here. The last time we came here, they had just built the Tabernacle. I still remember when we sat out (at the amphitheater) in the heat,” Beaver said. “The grounds are different and we all go down there and play ball now. There’s just all kinds of changes! It’s good. I like me some of the A/C!”
Mother Molline said John is a “veteran” of the camp.
“I remember pushing him around here in a stroller. He was a year old, and I was still pushing him around so I wouldn’t have to chase him!” Jackson said. “He attended (IFC) all the way through school until he graduated, had his own family and started work. That’s why he hasn’t gone every year, but he has come pretty much all his life.”
For Jake Jackson, IFC has played a more important role as he surrendered to the call to ministry.
“A year ago Thursday (July 31), I surrendered to the ministry,” Jackson said. “With the help of my pastor, Scott Newton, at North Fork, Eufaula, I have served my people and was ordained as a minister about six months ago.”
It is life-changing decisions like Jackson’s that create the sweet memories of camp. From the veteran camper, to the bright-eyed, adventure-spirited young ones, one thing can be said of Indian Falls Creek: it brings families, spanning different generations together and unites a people and culture to worship the one true God.
Also, you may be adopted into this family by the end of the time you spend with them.