By: Rachel Gieringer Mills (Camper Parent)
Growing up my home church was affiliated with a Christian camp in Southern Ohio. I had the opportunity to attend several weeks of camp there over the years as well as family camps and retreats. Decades later I still fondly recall the laughter, worship and sweet friendships that were made. After college I became a stateside missionary for an organization that worked in Haiti. Part of my job was attending Christian camps as a visiting missionary. I spent weeks with youth at camps all across the country. Whether I was in a tent at an outpost camp in Ohio or being flown in a crop-duster to a camp in Kansas, my experiences were all memorable!
A few years ago some friends invited my family to the Maple Syrup Open House at Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp (PHOC). We enjoyed visiting and learning about the camp so we went again the following year. Soon our daughters starting asking if they could attend camp- especially after hearing there was a horse lovers option. What little girl isn't horse crazy?! Although both our daughters had attended Vacation Bible School and local day camps, our current suburban church wasn't affiliated with an overnight camp.
Having spent a lot of time attending and working at summer camps over the years I felt comfortable that PHOC was a safe place not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually for my children. The counselors were required to pass background tests and were well trained. Many of the staff had years of experience working with youth. There was a nurse on site and the camp curriculum was based on sound Biblical teaching.
Last summer both of our girls attended a week at Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp and had the time of their lives! Our oldest daughter had attended 4-H camp the summer prior, but experienced severe homesickness. I was a bit worried about that, but the staff at PHOC were wonderful with her and she did great! The kids are so busy having fun all day that they are too happy and tired to be homesick! Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp was our youngest daughter's first ever overnight camp experience and she loved every minute of it! They both enjoyed making new friends, swimming in the lake, horseback riding (of course!) and even raved about the camp food and "comfy" beds. Not a week goes by that they don't talk about camp or express their desire to go back again this summer.
As a parent I was, and continue to be, impressed by the leadership, staff, programming and Christian values encompassed by Pleasant Hill Outdoor Camp. Not only will our girls be attending camp at PHOC again this coming July, but we have also become donors. I am excited that our daughters' will have the opportunity to make more of their own camp memories this summer. They are counting down the days!