By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer
PELICAN, La. (LBM) – Several hundred people gathered during the Clara Springs Baptist Camp 70th anniversary celebration, March 24 and 26, to celebrate the life-changing impact the camp has had on their lives.
Held on the grounds of the camp in Pelican, the event featured the traditional Fourth Friday Fish Fry, concerts by Southern Plainsmen and Vines and Company, fireworks, games, and the Overcoming Obstacles Ministry’s American Ninja Warrior course. The weekend also included a reunion of campers and a time for sharing memories of Clara Springs.
Bubba Mills, who has served as director since 2007, said the celebration reminded him of how God’s hand has been on the camp for the past 70 years.
“God has brought us through the good and bad times and blessed us tremendously,” Mills told the Baptist Message. “Most people would say God has blessed the camp through the buildings on the grounds and that certainly is true. But blessings also have come from those who have accepted Christ here and the hundreds we know committed to ministry and who are serving in ministry all over the world.”
The idea for the camp was presented and adopted at the 1952 District 8 Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. After the meeting, Clara Lord passed by the vacant Wallace Community School building and donated 15 acres of land adjacent to the property. She also spearheaded efforts to purchase the former school facility.
During the first summer of camps in 1953, campers utilized the old school building for a dormitory and chapel, an open pavilion for a dining hall, a pond for swimming, a grassy area for tent camping and springs for water.
Since then, Clara Springs has expanded its facilities and camps and event offerings. Last year, more than 7,000 people participated in various camps, retreats, conferences and the Fourth Friday Fish Fry.
DIRECTORS HAVE BEEN A BLESSING
Ron Thompson, missions coordinator for District 8 Baptist Convention, said God has blessed the camp with directors like Mills and his wife, Mandi, who have demonstrated true servant leadership.
“When we think of all God has done through the ministry of Clara Springs Baptist Camp and Conference Center – the boys and girls who came to camp for a few days of fun, and found their Savior Jesus; the teenagers searching for significance who surrendered to the call of ministry; the pastors who found a few days of respite from the exhaustion of the never ending challenges of ministry — when we reflect on these stories of all that God has done in the past, we are overjoyed at the ministry of this camp,” said Ron Thompson. “But the exciting thing is that God is not finished. Just as Hebrews reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” we trust that God will continue to do great things like these this year, and in the future, and things even more than we can imagine.
“As I reflect on the past of Clara Springs, no one could have imagined in 1953 what Mrs. Clara Lord’s dream would become,” Thompson continued. “And as I think of the future, I don’t want to limit what the next 70 years will be for Clara Springs, for I am confident God will “do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we can ask or imagine” and countless lives will be forever changed on the parcel of ground dedicated to God as Clara Springs Baptist Camp. To God be the glory for the great things He has done.”