Camp Thurman’s land was generously donated by a couple named Thurman and Iva Roxburgh; our humble 14 acres was their backyard. Originally, Camp Thurman was a Church Day Camp program run by Pantego Bible Church. Camp Thurman was established in 1969 and, as of summer 2020, has been serving campers for 51 years. Camp Thurman is a nonprofit ministry-minded summer camp which has grown in size and in structure, hiring more staff and serving more campers each summer, while advancing with new technology that promotes safety and fun. However, some traditions have stood the test of time and define Camp Thurman as the premier Camp in the City experience.
Choosing camp names is one tradition that has been around for a very long time. Camp names are beloved by campers and counselors alike. Every counselor has a unique camp name that stays with them for as long as they work at Camp Thurman. The counselors’ camp names give insight into their personality and provide a week long guessing game for campers!
Another long standing tradition is each group’s memorization of a Bible verse. All counselors choose a favorite Bible verse that they teach to their groups. Oftentimes, the counselors use a song and/or hand motions to help teach the bible verse. This is an awesome tradition that emphasizes the importance of Scripture. By Friday, all the campers have learned their Bible verse and are so excited to share the Word of God!
There are many important traditions that set Camp Thurman apart, including the interaction of our camp director with the campers. Our Executive Director, Blake Bowman, or Buck as he’s known around camp, can be found at skits each day. He asks if they can guess what his favorite bean is (spoiler: it’s a jelly bean!), he asks about the Bible study that day, or if they could recite their group’s Bible verse. Buck offers the campers an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone and step up on stage and proudly tell something that they learned about Jesus.
While traditions are loved at Camp Thurman there have been many updates and changes throughout the years. Many of these changes have transformed the physical landscape of camp. In 2012 a pool with jumping cliffs and ziplines was built near the location of Iva and Thurman’s house. Later in 2015 a lazy river was built at camp, further improving the camp’s facilities. Zion, Camp Thurman’s multipurpose pavilion, was built in 2018. Zion now hosts many events year round, and during the summers it hosts skits and staff meetings. 2019 was a crazy year of additions to Camp Thurman including a new Tarzan Swing, Quantum Leap, Boom Chicka Bounce, and Launch Pad!
These new elements are so much fun and keep camp exciting for the returning campers year after year. However, these elements are not the central focus of Camp Thurman. At Camp Thurman we are dedicated to sharing God’s love and helping people pursue their identity in Christ. Every summer a new set of Bible studies are developed to provide a new way to share the gospel with the campers. Christ is at the center of every part of camp, not just during Bible study. Before beginning certain elements at camp, counselors explain how the activity relates to a character or story from the Bible. We call this a Spiritual Emphasis. For example, at Kidron Valley we teach the campers about the real Kidron Valley mentioned in the Bible that Jesus walked through. These kinds of connections create a real world link between Scripture and the activities that the campers take part in each day.