The Bible is loaded with instances of God calling people out of their surroundings and leading them to the outdoors, sometimes as discipline, but always for learning. Paul, Elijah, Moses and the Israelites, David, and even Jesus, all experienced defining moments during times away in the wilderness. Still today, God uses outdoor ministry to draw people to himself.
Many of us have read the troubling reports of young adults leaving the Church, and we wonder, “What can we do?” The 2014 National Study on Youth and Religion reported that “kids who attended camp, versus their peers who did not, are three times more likely to remain in the church five years beyond high school.” And it isn’t only kids who benefit. Barna Research’s 2017 Pastors Poll reported that 39% of U.S. pastors received their call into ministry while at camp! At camp, there is a powerful marriage of general (creation) and special (God’s Word) revelation. Creation tells us there is a God, and the Scriptures tell us who that God is and what he has done. A number of years ago, a middle school student exclaimed following his week at Inspiration Point, “Spitzer Lake screams of a Creator, and I met him right over there,” as he pointed to the spot where his cabin had studied the Bible for the last four days.
Spitzer Lake was a beautiful setting, indeed. If you are one who has a long history with Inspiration Point, the camp and retreat center owned by the CLB Central and Western Regions, you might remember playing volleyball near the lake. You might remember kids standing for photos on a boulder near the swimming area or recall canoeing and bumping into submerged trees. That boulder and those trees are now several feet underwater as Spitzer has risen more than five feet higher than it was in the early 90s. There have been years that were drier than others, but the lake level has climbed steadily.
Significant flooding in 2011 covered the front lawn and impacted the roads. After a substantial financial outlay, our camp was able to hold the water back for several years, but now can do it no more. In fact, it seems the days of ministry on that peninsula have come to a close. Here’s why…
The high water has caused significant damage to the site and several buildings. The lower floor of the main building is below lake level. Despite our efforts sandbagging, cutting concrete and laying drainage tile, and running many pumps continually, the intense hydrological pressure causes water to constantly seep through the floor. Lawns and trees have also been damaged.
If it were only about waiting for the water to subside, it would need to drop at least three feet and then stabilize before we could justify spending the hundreds of thousands of dollars necessary to restore the property. That means that on a lake the size of Spitzer, nearly 800 million gallons of water would need to evaporate or be moved; that doesn’t take into account any water added from rains and runoff.
Camp leadership has also worked with engineers and the governing authorities to see if constructing an outlet on the lake is a possibility. But even if an unlikely approval were granted, it would take several years to complete the project, at a probable price tag of $4-5 million. And, there is no guarantee it would work.
We thank God for the rich history of ministry at the Spitzer Lake site, celebrating as we remember how God used that special property as a setting where the gospel could be heard. There is a wonderful story of a fifth-grade camper who exclaimed at a campfire, “I know God doesn’t speak any louder at camp, but I sure can hear him better!”
Now Inspiration Point looks forward to seeing how God uses another setting, Twin Oaks, to continue the mission of “providing time, space, and biblical teaching with the aim that people encounter and follow Christ.”
Someone told our staff this past spring that with Spitzer Lake flooding, God seems to have provided the Twin Oaks property as an ark! We are regularly reminded of how incredibly and generously God has provided in bringing camp to a new location. God has been faithfully at work ensuring that the vital, life-changing gospel will continue to be shared through the ministry of Inspiration Point, providing the same Christ-central ministry in a new place.
When Inspiration Point purchased the Twin Oaks property in 2018, it was done as a response to significant growth—the camp needed more space so it could serve the more than 300 kids who had to be turned away each summer. God brought Inspiration Point to what we thought would be a second location, only for us to learn that it would become the only location. And what a location it is! Twin Oaks is a former private estate on 1,075 acres of woods, prairie, and water. It already had asphalt roads, 12 miles of hiking trails, four lakes, numerous ponds, and stunning buildings ready for use. Over the past two years, we’ve been able to add infrastructure, nine cabins, a very nice shower house, and a swimming pool, while remodeling several other buildings. The result is a fantastic camp and retreat facility. The response of visitors has been extremely positive. Following a tour in September, one gentleman remarked, “I couldn’t believe it when you showed me pictures of this place last year. But to see it in person is even more incredible!”
The necessary financial outlay has been significant, and there is still a long way to go to pay off the purchase price. However, God’s provision has been right on time thus far, and we are trusting him to continue to raise up people who will provide what is required to wrap up this massive project.
If you’d like to learn more, please contact me at [email protected].
Greg Anderson serves as President of Inspiration Point Christian Camp and Retreat Center. He arrived at Inspiration Point in 1990, serving as the director until 2015. He has since transitioned into the role of president.