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Falls Creek and OBU Create the Ultimate Camp Experience

June 16, 2017

A century ago, former leaders of the Baptist’s Young People’s Union J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer felt a growing need for Oklahoma’s Christians to have a place to call their own to gather in fellowship. Thus, Falls Creek was born.

Falls Creek is now the world’s largest youth camp. On average, 5,000 to 8,000 campers attend weekly during eight week-long sessions each summer.

OBU and Falls Creek

OBU proudly supports Falls Creek and has participated in the camp for decades. Both professors and students enjoy being a part of the camp and appreciate the chance to minister to so many campers each week. OBU representatives love to meet young believers, build connections, and share stories. There is no doubt that lives are changed by the experiences had at Falls Creek.

Dr. Scott Pace, OBU associate professor and former Falls Creek camp speaker, has noticed a strong correlation between campers attending Falls Creek and going on to attend OBU. He sees the powerful impact Falls Creek has made in so many of his students at the University.

Lives Forever Changed: Personal Experiences at Falls Creek

Dr. Scott Pace, OBU Associate Professor and Past Falls Creek Worship Speaker and Pastor

Pace was unfamiliar with Falls Creek when he moved to Oklahoma. “It was not like any other Christian youth experience I had witnessed or observed,” he said.

Being unfamiliar with Falls Creek, he didn’t understand what an honor it was when he accepted the role as camp pastor and worship speaker. “When I was asked to be the worship speaker, I couldn’t grasp what that meant in the beginning.”

Pace feels extremely thankful to have been the first OBU professor to speak at Falls Creek. “It was a step that both entities wanted to take, to put the relationship and partnership on the forefront.”

“Falls Creek is a chapter in so many students’ lives by the time they get to OBU,” he said. “To be a part of the chapter was a unique opportunity and formative to me in terms of my OBU and Oklahoma induction.”

Clay Phillips, OBU Alumnus and Director of Student Ministry

Clay Phillips, OBU director of student ministry, recalls going to Falls Creek before his family became believers. He attended Falls Creek from the age of nine until college, when he continued to attend as summer staff for four summers. Upon graduation, he became a Hut Staff supervisor.

Phillips is fond of many aspects of Falls Creek, but one in particular stands out.

“I think it’s seeing the students grow in their faith and come to Christ,” he said.

He appreciates that there are so many opportunities over the week for students to take another step in their faith, whether it’s building upon their existing relationship with Christ, being called into ministry or even accepting Christ for the first time.

Andy Harrison, OBU Alumnus and Falls Creek Program Director

Andy Harrison has been involved in Falls Creek for decades, in many different ways. He attended camp when he was a kid back in the early 1970s and in a way, he never left.

“I’ve gone every way you can go, as a camper, sponsor, youth pastor, and then staff,” Harrison said. “And now I’m a program director.”

Spiritual Growth and Comfort Found at Falls Creek

Falls Creek is a special time for campers, staff, youth pastors and everyone in attendance. Phillips believes a unique aspect to this camp is being able to heavily focus on your spiritual side for a significant amount of time. By the end of each day, campers have had four to five hours of teaching and prayer.

“Honestly, a lot of students go to Falls Creek thinking, spiritually, this is the best week of their year,” Phillips said. “Some don’t connect why it happens but it’s because they are spending more time in prayer, the word, and in conversations. They are rejuvenated.”

Campers experience love all week from their sponsors and from the Falls Creek community. While some campers come from wonderful home lives, others come from broken homes. All campers enjoy the solid routine, three square meals a day, rest, recreation and a healing experience.

OBU Hut Staff

OBU Hut Staff

There are always four OBU students who attend camp and serve as the “Hut Staff.” The Hut Staff gets the opportunity to minister to all campers by leading devotionals in church cabins, sharing meals together, connecting with youth pastors, and more. “We network with youth pastors so we can serve them throughout the year,” Phillips said.

Many OBU students apply to be on the Hut Staff.  They submit applications and Phillips selects the students.

If they aren’t selected for Falls Creek Hut Staff, many students still go to camp and work as Falls Creek staff.  Falls Creek representatives come to the OBU campus to interview those students who apply.

“There is a generational connection between students and Hut Staff,” Pace said. “A college student will connect with the students at Falls Creek and serve as a good liaison to OBU. Many students who become Hut Staff previously attended or worked at Falls Creek. They are already familiar with and understand what the campers are experiencing and the questions they are asking in regards to spirituality and life.”

falls creek youth camp

Photo Credit: Chris Doyle

The Perfect Partnership

OBU and Falls Creek have a long standing partnership and continue to strengthen their relationship and lean on one another to improve the camp every year. The relationship between OBU and Falls Creek is unique and special.

Falls Creek is an exceptional life-changing experience, not only because of the size but the legacy it has in Oklahoma and the number of lives it has changed. When combined with OBU as a distinctly Christian liberal arts university, these two entities act as powerful conduits in the lives of young people.

“It creates a synergy that people recognize but can’t put their finger on,” Pace said. “Both those arms collaborating with the same goals and purposes with the same target audience makes it a potent force.”

Harrison appreciates all the help that OBU brings to Falls Creek.

“We have a lot of summer staffers, and many of them are OBU students,” Harrison said. “They provide a lot of man power and we help equip them because they learn a really good work ethic at Falls Creek, including how to engage people and how to be accountable in the workplace, while keeping the focus on the main thing, which is pulling people to Jesus.”

OBU helps lead the worship on Tuesday nights and provides entertainment afterward at the Falls Creek ampitheatre. “They also provide us with leadership breakouts on Friday and OBU professors come down,” Harrison said.  

OBU at the Amp

“The Call” Hosted at OBU

OBU and Falls Creek also work together at an annual conference, “The Call.” OBU hosts the events, designed for students who felt a call to ministry during Falls Creek or at any point during the year. OBU provides ideas and support for students to help them pursue their calling. While it may not always lead to educational pursuits, OBU is happy to provide support no matter what the next step is. “Our goal is to make our presence known so we can be a resource to them,” Phillips said. 

Celebrate Falls Creek Centennial

This year, as Falls Creek celebrates their Centennial, OBU camp alumni look back at their experiences and are happy to know all the lives that have been impacted.

falls creek icee

Photo Credit: Chris Doyle

“Wednesday night every week this summer we are going to have a big centennial celebration,” Harrison said. There will be t-shirts, live music, thousands of cupcakes, and a firework display. Harrison also mentioned the famous Icees and said there will be a special centennial Icee.

Want to read more about Falls Creek? Learn more about their history.