Record Number Attend Fall Bible Camp
By Rachel Scribner

The girl on the zip line, hair streaming in the wind, flies down the mountainside and splashes into the lake. In the gym, teens play in a supersized dodge-ball tournament, while onlookers scramble up three rock-climbing towers. Outside, there’s a sports game and plenty of visitors to the ice cream shop. Teenagers spread like tumbleweeds across the wild-west-themed campus, enjoying swimming pools, bumper cars, good food, and friends.

This is Oregon Conference Fall Bible Camp. It’s a kaleidoscope of adventure, sunshine, water, friends, and fun for high schoolers. “If we have fun, we stay together,” says youth director Les Zollbrecht. But, at its heart, Bible camp is more than just fun. It’s 500 high school students clapping in perfect rhythm as they sing. It’s the pastor whose stories draw teens into the Bible before they know it. And it’s the group of teens around the bonfire who will stay, long after bedtime comes, to sing Jesus one more song. Bible camp is worship. “As an organizer, it’s really cool to see the experience during worship time. To hear 500 plus youth come together and sing,” says Melani Long, Big Lake administrative assistant. “It’s a safe place to  have a spiritual experience.”

Youth department administrative assistant Desiree Rinza says many high school students call Bible camp “the place where they feel connected to God.” “I love it,” says Allisynn Tweedy, a sophomore from Cascade Christian Academy. Tweedy says her favorite part of the weekend is praise and worship. The Friday morning session “gave me chills. Good chills,” she says. “Everyone should go to Bible camp.”

2015’s Bible camp, September 24-27, was the biggest year on record, with 646 attendees. But Rinza says some homeschoolers “don’t know about it.” “It’s open to anybody in grades 9-12,” she says. Rinza and Long encourage churches, Sabbath schools, or any group of high-school-aged students to mark their calendars for the last weekend in September next year.

“Almost every Biblical epic has a story of a wilderness experience, of going out,” Zollbrecht says. “Turning off your technology, getting  away from the stress of life, being around…other young people who are seeking God too; that’s the reason we’re here.”