|Campers paddle on Lake Texoma.
By Holly McCray
Because of the generous people of the Ardmore District, Cross Point Camp will soon break ground for two large, dormitory-style cabins at the United Methodist facilities beside Lake Texoma.
Gifts and pledges have raised more than $500,000 through a district capital campaign, "Destination Cross Point." This is the camp’s 50th year in service; groundbreaking for the new buildings is likely next month.
Each new building will house 40 campers—double the capacity of any existing cabin. About 3,200 square feet in size, each will include a meeting room that comfortably accommodates 60 people, a kitchenette, and bathroom facilities in each of two sleeping areas. Existing cabins are each 650-700 square feet.
The project will enable Cross Point to house about 330 people. Rising numbers of campers prove the expansion is much needed.
"We’ve maxed out what we can do with what we have," said Ken Long, Cross Point manager.
Some groups regularly overflow current capacity, forcing some participants to be housed off-site. Among those groups are New Day Camps, for children whose parents are incarcerated; the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; and Camp Cavett, which welcomes children and youths with debilitating diseases.
"We do so much here with limited resources and have so much potential. The people in Ardmore District and southern Oklahoma realize how much ministry here changes lives," Long said. "They have the most passionate feelings for the camp. They stepped up to say, We need to help you realize that potential.
"All of them helped us get to the point where we have (the funding) in hand."
Long said the camp has increased from serving 2,000 campers per year to almost 7,000 since 2006, which is also the year Guy Ames III began serving as Ardmore District superintendent.
"God sent a guy named Guy Ames. He just said, ‘What do I need to do to help?’ I have to thank Guy so much for his work and his effort to help spread the vision," the manager said.
Rev. Dr. Ames simply said, "I was raised in camp."
His father made youth ministry a priority in churches he pastored and also as Ardmore District superintendent. The son’s camp adventures date back to 1962.
But his passion for Christian camping has a deeper, sacred link. "My very first camp was a place I made my first profession of faith. I had my first sense of calling as a young person in camp," Ames revealed. "I’ve got memories that date back to 5 years old. There was this constant drawing me into relationship with God."
When he was appointed superintendent, Ardmore District operated one summer youth program at Cross Point, regularly averaging 115 campers.
A new design team, with Ames, went to work. The first camp developed from their efforts drew 185 young people. "With staff added, we had nine beds left," Ames recalled. Then two camps were offered, and 235 youths attended, plus 35-45 staff.
"In all this, I was quite aware we didn’t have enough space," Ames remarked. That led to the capital campaign.
|The new buildings at Cross Point Camp will set between F enclosure and Cabin 1, and near Cabins 11 and 12. This drawing is not to scale. The camp property fronts Lake Texoma.
"We could not have even considered this except we knew the churches of Ardmore District would say, It’s about time. The ministries of Cross Point enhance the ministries of the local churches in tremendous ways."
Ames said that Camps ministry impacts people in a much wider circle. "We know the majority of professions of faith are made by about age 18. We are trying to reach younger and more diverse disciples. We’ve got to have energized ministries, where young people say, I want to be involved in that."
Ames noted Cross Point’s central location in the South Central Jurisdiction and strong potential as a sporting venue at a lake.
Cross Point has "the finest management, best ropes course anywhere, beautiful shoreline … We’ve got to take it to the next level."
Camp Manager Long agreed. "We are setting in one of the highest growth areas in the United States—the corridor between Oklahoma City and Dallas."
Long is in his 16th year of service at Cross Point. He personally has seen lives changed. He speaks in churches about those moments, and emotion swells within him.
Walk to Emmaus is a strong program at the camp. Long described one Walk participant, a husband struggling with family matters.
The outcome of that man’s Walk "impacted not only him and not only his wife," Long said. "That’s the fingers of God reaching out there and touching more people. The multiplier effect is the part you don’t see, but you know it happens."
He has seen young New Day Campers return as leaders, young Camp Cavett patients who don’t return because of death, and youth campers go on to ordained ministry. He estimated 100,000 people have participated in Cross Point Camp life since he became manager.