Throughout the year we have a variety of groups, organizations, and programs come to Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp for their retreats. These groups can be church youth groups, colleges, adult groups, custom camps and many more. One of the more unique groups that calls Pleasant Hill home is Man-Camp, offered by the Vineyard Church in Columbus, Ohio. Man-Camp sets up shop in our Outpost Camping Area and prepares for a weekend of outdoor fun and bonding. The participants park their cars at main camp and hike a mile into the woods, they set up their campsites and prepare their meals over an open fire. During the weekend they worship in the woods by having their church band set up and perform and it is like being at an outdoor music festival. It is an amazing site and you can truly feel God presence.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Jeff Best, Man-Camps Coordinator, and ask him a few questions about Man-Camp and what makes it so special.
How and when did Man-Camp get started?
Our first Man-Camp was in May of 2018. God had been laying on my heart the idea of doing something with men that was out of the "Christian" box. My wife and I were in Florence, KY visiting my daughter and her family in July 2017. We attended Crossroads Church with them as we usually do when we go down to visit. That week they promoted their Man-Camp and I immediately felt the Lord prompting me to do this at Vineyard in Columbus. So, I signed up for their Man-Camp and attended in October 2017. After attending and seeing how God showed up for the men who attended, there was no question about what God wanted me to do.
What was the idea behind Man-Camp?
The primary concept is to get men away from the fast pace life environment; work and home life for a weekend, unplug and have the opportunity to get in the outdoors with God and other men. To remove all the church and life walls they put up and just be themselves, with all their flaws, brokenness and vices. It is a time to push themselves by hiking a mile to base camp with all their camping gear and camp outdoors for two nights, solving problems with a unit of other guys. We strive to provide them with several opportunities to hear God through worship,, solitude time, guy talk around the campfire and to seek prayer from our MASH/Ministry Team. We also want to provide time for the men to have fun, so we through axes, arm wrestle and have tug-of-war competitions. In addition, we want men to have an opportunity to work together to see what many men working together can accomplish in a short period of time.
What is the goal or take away from spending a weekend in the the wilderness in fellowship with others?
To have an experience with God, other men and themselves. To show them that God has so much more for them and has a bigger plan for their lives than just the mundane concept of existence. For them to know that God loves and accepts them for who they are, and wants to use them just the way they are. To also understand that other men have the same issues, insecurities and problems that they do, they are not alone and need other men to walk besides them in life.
Vineyard Church visits Pleasant Hill with two Man-Camps, but also comes throughout the year and volunteers their time to serve. Clearing trails, cutting down dead trees, stock piling fire wood, and beautifying our Outpost Area are just a few ways Jeff's vision impacts not only this camp but all the men who participate. If you are interested in offering your own wilderness type of experience for your church or group please contact us and we can provide you with more information. We can also put you in touch with Jeff so that more people can experience God's creation, the bonding and fellowship with others and the distraction free environment that only nature can provide.