Camp introduces boy to God


One in a series on Oklahoma’s camps

‘Without the local churches and Camps partnering, Tommy and others like him may never have the opportunity to hear God.’—Rick Troubaugh

By Rick Trobaugh

The roles of the Camps’ Board of Trustees include hospitality, maintenance of facilities, programming, stewardship of the gifts given to support Oklahoma UM Camps and fundraising, building new cabins, Safe Sanctuary screenings, and promotion of camping events. However, the boards’ biggest role is partnering with local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Disciples such as Tommy*.

Tommy was a youth in a small group I led at district camp some years back. Tommy wanted to be anywhere but at camp. In my group, he folded his arms, sat back, and watched.

Tommy wasn’t being difficult; he was struggling with concepts of God, love, and forgiveness.

Over the week, Tommy slowly began to participate. He unfolded his arms and leaned forward during small-group times. Then came Friday morning, and prevenient grace broke through.

When we dismissed the final small-group meeting, Tommy didn’t leave. He needed to ask a question.

"Pastor Rick, I’ve been watching all week, and I’ve discovered that I want what our group shared all week," he said. "I want to know this love and forgiveness that God is offering."

When Tommy left camp that day, he was beginning a journey as a new disciple of Jesus Christ.

Did you know that your camping ministries touch more than 21,000 lives each year? Did you know that more than 70 percent of Oklahoma’s local churches use the three campsites for training events, workshops, and retreats?

During the summer camping events, which especially reach out to children and teens, there are about 1,500 volunteer camp leaders, whose combined service totals more than 200,000 volunteer hours. Countless volunteers provide an estimated 140,000 hours preparing the facilities for each busy summer season.

And throughout the year, many volunteers work on improving the sites, to enhance the experience for campers of all ages at any time of year in God’s natural settings.

As active members of the three Site Development Committees and the Board of Trustees, clergy and laity from across the Oklahoma Conference volunteer more than 1,600 hours to provide support for the permanent staff at the campsites.

Without individuals who volunteer, your camping ministries would not have the far-reaching impact that we now report. Without the local churches and Camps partnering to make disciples for Jesus Christ, Tommy and others like him may never have the opportunity to hear God — for the first time or in a new way. Thank you for joining with us to make that difference.

* = Not actual name

(Rev. Rick Trobaugh chairs the Camps’ Board of Trustees and is pastor at Shattuck UMC.)

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