Four family-friendly destinations that may surprise you
By Christina Quick and Jennifer McClure
The secret is getting out. Church campgrounds, long
associated with dormitories and dining halls, aren’t just for church groups
An increasing number of Assemblies of God campgrounds are
catering to families and individuals — with accommodations that often
rival those found in resorts, motels and commercial campgrounds. Set in prime
locations at discount prices, they’re an attractive alternative for many
“We get a lot of people just passing through here,” says
Linda VanRiper, co-manager at Redwood Family Camp in Garberville, Calif. “We’ve
had visitors from all over the United States, as well as Canada, Australia and
the United Kingdom. A lot of people don’t realize we’re a Christian campground
until they pull in.”
While ministry is still the focus of these district camps,
VanRiper and others agree that serving the traveling public can be another form
“We believe that when people come into our campground, they
will feel the presence of the Lord,” says Stacey O’Trembla, co-manager at
Glacier Bible Camp in Hungry Horse, Mont. “We pray daily over our campground
and ask God to touch hearts.”
The faith-centered atmosphere is one of the features that
“We don’t allow smoking or alcohol,” says Randy O’Trembla,
Stacey’s husband. “We keep it family-friendly. People appreciate that.”
Many visitors also find satisfaction in knowing their stay
is funding ministry. As nonprofit establishments, all monies the district
campgrounds collect go back into the facilities and church camp programs.
As you hit the road this summer, consider checking out one
of the campgrounds featured here.
Redwood Family Camp
Location: Garberville, Calif. (Northern California-Nevada
Overnight options: The year-round campground offers 50 tent
sites and 42 RV sites (31 full-hookup and 12 with water and electricity). Two
rustic cabins — each with a bunk bed and double bed, heat, lights and
barbecue pit — accommodate up to four people. There are also screened
tent-cabins and dorms with bunk beds. Seven cabins are reserved for Assemblies
of God pastors and their families during district camping sessions.
Amenities: Restrooms, showers and laundry facilities are
available for campers and cabin guests. An on-site store sells food and drinks,
firewood, propane, ice and other camping supplies. Recreation offerings include
a horseshoe pit, volleyball and basketball courts, a soccer/baseball field,
tetherball, table tennis and a playground.
Area attractions: Located among California’s towering
redwoods, the region is a nature lover’s dream. The campground is on the edge
of Richardson State Park, which boasts nine miles of hiking trails. It’s a
short walk from the campground to the Eel River, where visitors enjoy swimming
Garberville is just an hour south of the Avenue of the
Giants, the famous scenic drive that meanders around — and even through
— some of the world’s largest trees. Or if you prefer ocean beaches,
drive an hour west to Shelter Cove, where you may catch a glimpse of seals and
Nice to know: The Garberville region is considered bear
country. Though there have been no known bear sightings in the campground,
visitors are advised to keep food items properly sealed and secured.
For more information, call (707) 247-3380 or visit
Glacier Bible Camp
Location: Hungry Horse, Mont. (Montana District)
Overnight options: Glacier Mountain Lodge offers 28 motel
rooms, including two large suites with private kitchenettes and hide-a-bed
couches. Tent and RV campsites are also available, including several new
riverside sites that are set to open this summer. Group lodges and other
facilities are available for church camps, family reunions, wedding receptions
Amenities: There is a miniature golf course, volleyball and
basketball courts, and a coffee shop. The middle fork of the Flathead River
runs along the campground’s edge, making it an ideal place to fish for walleye
and trout. Restrooms and showers are available for campers.
Area attractions: Glacier National Park — known for its diverse wildlife,
snow-capped mountains and pristine lakes — is just eight miles from the
campground. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding and whitewater rafting are
popular local activities in the summer. Winter activities include skiing,
snowshoeing and snowmobiling. There are several ski resorts in the area.
Nice to know: Reservations are encouraged, especially during
Access to some areas of the national park is restricted
during the winter months. However, there are still plenty of activities in the
area, and lodge rates are discounted between October and mid-April. Special
weekday discounts are also available to AG ministers who reside in Montana.
An abundance of wildlife — including black bears,
grizzly bears and mountains lions — inhabit the area. Keep your distance
from wild animals and familiarize yourself with Glacier’s safety guidelines.
Remember to store food safely when camping.
For more information, call (406) 387-5502 or visit
The Appalachian Inn
Location: Ghent, W.Va. (Appalachian District)
Overnight options: Forty-eight motel rooms — including
three deluxe rooms with a queen bed and a hide-a-bed sofa, coffeemaker,
refrigerator and microwave — and a 64-bed dormitory are available
year-round to groups, families or individuals. Six campsites with electric hookups
and water access are also available.
Amenities: A 10,000-square-foot multipurpose building with
classroom space and auditorium can accommodate several hundred guests. The
spacious dining room can comfortably seat 180 people. (Meals must be
prearranged by group leaders.) A microwave and coffeemaker are available to
guests in the dining room. RV or tent campers have access to a bath house with
12 showers. An RV dump station is also available on the premises.
Area attractions: Located between Beckley and Princeton,
W.Va., the Appalachian District campground lies near the slopes of Winterplace
Ski Resort. It is also about 30 minutes away from whitewater rafting in
Nice to know: Each year on the third Saturday of October,
more than 200,000 people flock to the region to experience Bridge Day. On this
day, the New River Gorge Bridge is transformed into a launching pad for BASE
jumpers who parachute down into the New River Gorge 876 feet below. Rappellers
descend the 31-year-old steel structure. It is also the only day of the year
when pedestrians are allowed on the bridge. Vendors set up concessions on the
structure for the day’s events.
Though reservations are always required for groups, it is
especially important to make them far in advance if planning to stay at the inn
in October or during ski season. Appalachian Inn Manager Barbara Branch says
ski season generally runs from mid-December through March, during which time
the nearby Winterplace Ski Resort provides a shuttle service to inn guests.
For more information call (800) 231-0054 or visit
Location: Cedaredge, Colo. (Rocky Mountain District)
Overnight options: Nearly 60 RV campsites with water,
electric and/or sewer hookups are available at Camp Cedaredge, as well as five
hotel-style rooms, a two-room suite, and a 360-bed dormitory. There are also
two studio cabins that sleep four each, a two-bedroom cabin that sleeps five
and a three-bedroom cabin that sleeps seven.
Amenities: Of the camp’s 66 acres, approximately 45 are
wooded and undeveloped, providing trails and additional tent campsites. Tent
campers have access to bathrooms and showers. The camp also has a coin-operated
laundry facility as well as an RV dump station.
Activities available at the camp include a high ropes
course, paintball, inflatables, outdoor basketball, sand beach volleyball,
mini-golf, an outdoor climbing wall, three zip lines and the Screamer — a
giant 40-foot swing. Wireless Internet is also available to guests.
When it comes to meals, Camp Cedaredge is a licensed
campground with the state of Colorado, offering anything from cafeteria-style
dining to plated meals.
Area attractions: Camp Cedaredge sits on the south side of
the Grand Mesa — the world’s tallest flattop mountain. On the opposite
side of the mesa is Powderhorn Ski Resort, about a 30-mile drive from the
campground. A 45-minute drive south will land guests at the Black Canyon of the
Gunnison River National Park. Other nearby activities include fishing, hunting,
ATV and snowmobile rentals, and horseback riding.
Nice to know: The Rocky Mountain District of the Assemblies
of God regularly offers family camps at Cedaredge.
“Family camps provide a connection between all ages as they
worship together, play together and get away together. It’s a great time for
people from different churches to connect,” says Camp Cedaredge Director Gary
Discounts are available to large groups, ministers and for
multiple days. More information is available by calling (970) 856-6343.
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