With great anticipation, we begin the 95th year of holding camp in the Arbuckle Mountains.
Since the first summer assembly led by J. B. Rounds and W. D. Moorer, Falls Creek has been the destination for thousands of young people, children and Native Americans, each group attending weeks specifically focused on them.
On Memorial Day weekend, Falls Creek officially kicked off summer activities with Associational Children’s Camp. Fifteen of our associations work together to provide a camping experience for more than 7,000 older children and their sponsors. Year after year, more than 500 children become followers of Jesus because of this camp. This week, summer youth weeks begin.
In 1917, a little more than 200 campers gathered for the first camp. Sleeping in tents and cooking over an open fire, these pioneers came to meet together in the presence of God. Their desire in that first camp was to see people come to faith in Christ, and to see young people hear the call of God to missions and ministry.
From this humble beginning, Falls Creek has seen exponential growth. While the number of participants has dramatically changed from just more than 200 to 57,465 last year during the youth weeks, the purpose and focus have not changed. Every week of the summer youth camp, the Word of God is proclaimed and demands of the Gospel presented. Young people are called to unreserved repentance and faith in the Savior, and campers are challenged to renew and refresh their walk with Christ.
One of the distinctive calls set before young people each week is the call to missions and ministry. God has used these times across the years to call out thousands of young people to missions and ministry.
Because Falls Creek is so much a part of Oklahoma Baptist (and Oklahoma) culture, it can be taken for granted. We can fall into a trap of expecting that good things will happen without effort—not so. The secret of Falls Creek lies in the enormous preparation by camp staff and leaders in the local church. Prayer has been and will remain the unseen dynamic of the Falls Creek experience. There is power in the thousands of individuals who focus prayer for the youth who attend as well as those who lead. In the end, all the preparation in the world will not produce what only God can do in the hearts of those who attend.
Because of sacrificial giving, the tabernacle has been a remarkable addition to Falls Creek. Never has there been such an opportunity to capture the minds and hearts of young people. The comfort, sight and sound and worship atmosphere have never been so great. Young people can concentrate, hear and see in ways past generations only dreamed possible. The ability to focus on worship and the preaching of the Word is amazing.
In recent years, a real effort has been made to upgrade the recreation opportunities at Falls Creek. New venues have been added that provide a variety of experiences for youth. Ropes courses, slides into the lake, multiple inflatables on the lake and creek and a skate park add to the traditional softball and volleyball competitions. There is something for everyone. Falls Creek provides both a dynamic spiritual experience and an awesomely fun time for all.
Many of you have never been to Falls Creek, though you have most likely heard stories across the years. You may have listened to testimonies of youth who return from a week at the Creek and wished you could have been there. Well, let me invite you to come for an evening at the Creek. Nothing compares to participating in worship along with 5,000 or 6,000 young people. If you cannot come to the Creek, the next best thing would be to join worship through the Internet at www.skopos.org.
I am glad summer has begun. I know it surprises you, but I love Falls Creek! Summer at Falls Creek is one of my favorite times of the year. My life is always enriched by spending time there. I, like thousands of others, had my life dramatically changed at Falls Creek. May it be so for thousands who attend this year.