DAVIS—”We had a great camp; it was really good.” With those few words, Associational Children’s Camp Director Chuck Utsler, director of missions for Grady Association, summed up the two sessions of camp for those who have completed grades 4-6 held May 24-30 at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center near here.
Total attendance this year was 6,936, down slightly from last year’s record attendance of 7,173, but decisions increased to 1,085—including 556 professions of faith—up from 855 a year ago, and just under the record of 1,124 decisions in 2007.
The camp is split into two sessions, with week one actually beginning on Sunday and ending at mid-day on Wednesday and week two beginning Wednesday afternoon and concluding on Saturday. Week two’s attendance soared to 4,121 this year, more than 1,300 higher than the 2,815 which attended week one.
“I think that probably some of the schools not being out had a lot to do with a lower camp one,” said Utsler, who was in his second year as director. “A lot of the schools had to take snow days, and that kept some children away.
“We will be later next year which should help. We’re very curious to see how that affects our attendance next year. We feel we’ll benefit in both weeks, but certainly in week one.”
Camp organizers did do one thing different this year in recording decisions made by campers indicating a call into missions, which totaled 18.
“This was the first time that had been listed in our statistics,” Utsler affirmed. “I was very pleased that happened. God really moved among the children.”
Camp preachers this year were Griff Henderson, pastor of Edmond, Waterloo Road, for week one and Rusty Canoy, pastor of Lexington, First, for week two. The camp theme was “God’s Word is Truth: Know It, Live It and Tell It,” focusing on John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the Truth, Your Word is truth.”
Ken Austin and the 150 Band led worship for the 13th consecutive year at children’s camp. Austin is minister of music at Blanchard, First.
“They just do a fantastic job,” Utsler said. “They’re very professional and a real blessing to the camp.”
As usual, a popular special feature was evangelist Gene “Bubba” Wright.
Bill Buchanan, a professor from Oklahoma Baptist University, and his family were at the forefront of recreation with wild and wacky games, where campers and sponsors have a great time getting each other wet through a variety of relay games using buckets, water cannons, sponges, etc. Other recreation options included kickball, volleyball, kayaking and, of course, swimming.
Associational Children’s Camp is sponsored each year by 15 associations, Arbuckle, Banner, Bryan, Capital, Central, Cherokee Strip, Comanche-Cotton, Enon, Grady, Johnston-Marshall, North Canadian, Mullins, Pottawatomie-Lincoln, South Canadian and Union. It is run by a board of directors.
“We always evaluate everything we do. We always look how to better serve our campers, especially with different venues, such as swimming and recreation,” Utsler said. “We’re doing an evaluation of our invitation and encouraging, or what we used to call counseling, times to be better prepared for that.
“We will have an evaluation meeting with some of the board of directors soon. We also have an evaluation form on our Web site (www.associationalchildrenscamp.com) and we’re starting to get some of those in. Those are valuable. I compile those statistics and make them available to our board so we can see where we can improve our camp.
“I encourage people to go to the site and fill out the evaluation form. It’s our goal to make this camp the best it can possibly be.
“The attendance bears out that it has been a popular camp and it’s in a beautiful setting at Falls Creek.”
Utsler will be in his third year as director of Associational Children’s Camp next year, the two sessions of which will be held May 30-June 2 and June 2-5.