“I’ll never forget that first assembly, for we blazed the way. We went on the train to what was called Rayford Switch, south of Davis. We crossed the river (Washita) in a boat, then took a wagon drawn by two mules to the grounds. There were about six or eight passengers. One was E.E. ‘Hot Dog’ Lee. The wagon stalled on one high hill. We all got out and Mr. Jones and ‘Hot Dog’ put their shoulders to the wheel to help get the wagon up the hill. We ate under a tent and met under brush arbors. We slept on canvass cots under a tarpaulin stretched between two trees. It was very primitive but lots of fun.” (From Sights & Sounds of Falls Creek by J.M. Gaskin)

No roads, a handful of attendees, wagons, mules and sleeping under the stars have given way to the premier Christian encampment that we now call Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. Each summer, more than 55,000 campers arrive in cars, church vans or chartered buses (not wagons drawn by mules). New roads lead into the camp (where there were none in 1917) where campers attend worship services in a state-of-the-art, 7,000-seat tabernacle (rather than a brush arbor). Laundry isn’t done in a 14-inch wash pan either with water from the creek. A new water tower, emblazoned with the logo of Falls Creek, provides 650,000 gallons of water at the twist of a handle.

While Falls Creek is no longer primitive, the summer fun has not changed, just the way it is experienced. A 5K run, zip lines, canoeing, swimming, hiking, multiple climbing challenges, horseshoes, basketball, disc golf, skating and softball are a few of the choices. However, Falls Creek is more than eight weeks in the summer! It is a year-round conference center. Nearly as many people participate in conferences and retreats at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center at other times during the year as attend the youth encampments in the summer.

What has never changed is Falls Creek’s spiritual foundation and motivation to see lost young people come to know Christ. That first year, J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer prayed for just one decision to show that God’s favor was on the camp. They saw twice what they prayed for—two decisions! This year, 4,651 decisions were made during the summer; 1,938 professions of faith and 507 calls to ministry. Since the opening of the R.A. Young Tabernacle in 2007, almost 56,000 young people have heard God’s call and made a decision for Christ; 19,000 were for salvation and almost 9,000 young people have answered the call to ministry.

This summer, I had the privilege to share with campers and sponsors in the new Jordan Welcome Center how the new buildings will be used and some of the history of Falls Creek. It’s always exciting to hear a young person say, “this is my first year to come,” or hear sponsors tell how many decades they have appreciated coming to Falls Creek.

As the 100th anniversary approaches, now would be a perfect time to show your appreciation for all of those who have blazed the way for us at Falls Creek by making a gift or multi-year pledge. Oh, that future generations will look back and say of us that we blazed the way for them to meet the Lord at Falls Creek.

Contact me about your gift for the Falls Creek Centennial Campaign at 405/516-4868, mharkey@bgco.org, or toll free at 800/690-6933.