Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

Blessings wash over campers after relocating


Dean recognizes God had a plan

By SHARRI HILLER, Ardmore District Camp dean

Where to have the last Ardmore District Youth Camp? It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.

It was May, and the road into Cross Point Camp at Lake Texoma was flooded. Ken Long and Ed Parker were ready to boat us in, but I had too many questions and not enough time to get answers.

The Ardmore District camp was set for June 1-5.

The decision was made to move to Camp Egan, near Tahlequah, after the invite assured that Egan could accommodate us and the Journey Camp program at the same time.

The district camp volunteers were all in! The band and the nurse, Judy Parkey from Madill, would travel. All the small group leaders were in.

When all was said and done, we had about 25 more campers and staff this year than last year.

Zach, one of the band members, said he prayed at the week’s beginning worship that our being at Egan was no accident, and he was correct. Cross Point has long been our "home" camp, but I found that our "wandering around the creek" at Egan was a journey God had planned and had a plan to use.

The weather was great for using the open-air tabernacle. There was no rain the whole week! And our experience truly proved "the United Methodist connection."

The distance between Camps Egan and Cross Point is more than 200 miles.

Churches partnered to make sure all the youths made it to camp. One church had campers and a van, but no way to get campers to camp. A neighboring church had campers and a leader, but no transportation. They joined efforts, and everyone made it to camp.

Ada-First UMC even loaned Lighthouse UMC use of its van all week.

The move to Egan did cause problems for clergy elders who had signed up as adult volunteers. It appeared we would not have someone to consecrate the elements so that we could celebrate Communion during the week.

Then, the week prior to our camp, God led us to new connections during Annual Conference. Thanks to Michael Dye, D.A. Bennett, Katie Brown Hill, and Superintendent Larry Bauman, we were able to have Communion at every worship. Amid relocating from Ardmore to McAlester, Rev. Bauman came for Communion on the day we hiked up to the cross. The stars were coming out as we started; it was truly a special time.

During closing worship Friday, large rocks were carried to the altar by each small group as well as the nurse, the band, Rev. Hill, and Egan staffer Monica Hiller. A pail of creek water held small rocks from Slate Bluff Creek. We talked about our time in "exile" at Egan, and each person took a small rock to remind us of our week "wandering around the creek."

Back at home, I have already received one report from a grandmother that her grandson who attended camp was baptized and joined his church. Praise be to God!

We expect to have next year’s district camp back at Cross Point on the lake. For opening worship, we will build a permanent altar (See Joshua 4) to remind us about this year’s unusual experience and how God led us through change and adversity.

Related story: Creativity keeps camping afloat at Cross Point

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