The summer of 2018 will be the 50th summer of continuous ministry at our current location. The camp is nestled on the edge of Twin Lake South, better known to locals as Little Lake Annie. From its inception the goal has been to provide a safe, fun environment for children to learn more about God and to grow in their relationships with Him.
Words cannot fully express how God has worked through Camp Good News to positively impact countless lives. While some things have inevitably changed over the years the heart and the mission have remained the same. One tradition that we continue to maintain is our camp verses (Proverbs 3:5-6) and our camp song, The Good News Song. Perhaps you might remember the tune that campers still sing as the bus reaches the first curve on Twin Lakes Road.
Good News! Good News! Christ Died for Me.
Good News! Good News if I Believe.
Good News! Good News I’m Saved Eternally.
That’s Wonderful, EXTRA Good News.
Good News! Good News! Christ Lives for Me.
Good News! Good News He Prays for Me.
Good News! Good News, He’s Coming Again for Me.
That’s Wonderful, EXTRA Good News.
During the 1960’s the leaders of Child Evangelism Fellowship here in the Gainesville area would schedule two week of camp at Camp Lake Swan. The children enjoyed all the activities and learned so much about God that everyone began to clamor for a way that we could provide a longer camping season. The local board began to drive around looking for prospective locations and finally settled on 120 Twin Lakes Road, Hawthorne just five miles into Putnam County.
Initially it took a lot of vision to be able to see a camp with children running and playing. The lake area was overgrown. Closer to the road there was a collection of old mobile homes. The buildings and activity areas that are enjoyed today may not even have been in the imagination of that original band of pioneers. Nevertheless many families, church groups, and other individuals came together to prepare for that first summer of camp in 1969.
In June of 1969 the first building that would house bathrooms and an open chapel began to rise out of the landscape. Situated on the side of the hill heading down towards the lakes more than more person recalls the streams of water that would flow through the chapel whenever there was a hard rain. Nevertheless the roof provided a shady spot to eat and more importantly to learn about Jesus.
Unfortunately time has left many gaps in the accounts of who did what when and for how long. What we do know is that God has kept meticulous notes and will never forget what was done for His glory and to fulfil His purposes. He will surely reward each person accordingly.
Today the first building on the left as you arrive on campus is Cypress Hall. Cypress Hall houses our commercial kitchen and serves as our primary indoor meeting location. It is here that campers begin and end each day, eat lunch, and work on crafts, among other activities.
The original chapel is now called Oak Hall. It has been closed in and air conditioned. The campers still change for swim time here but they also enjoy various indoor games.
There are two separate playground areas. Each one provides the camper with opportunities to run around, to use his or her imagination, and to have fun outside. You will find a ship and various obstacles in Adventureland. While Good News Gulch is home to a mock-up of a western town along with swings, slides, tire tag, and more.
Behind Pine and Palm (our dorms) you will find an activity field that transforms from an archery range, to a kickball field, to a soccer field, to a capture-the-flag area, etc. Beyond the field lies a grove of trees where our Bike Trail weaves through. (The Bike Trail hosts many head-to-head bike races especially during Bike Week.)
On either side of Pine and Palm we have a basketball court that doubles as a location for many zany games. Our Octaball and Human Fooseball Courts along with our climbing wall all provide wonderful areas to develop and strengthen bodies.
What do you do to cool off you might ask? Well the campers will often tell you that one of their favorite areas is the lake front. The children love to ride on our water slide. We have an array of boats, canoes, and kayaks to explore or even fish from. The clear, spring-fed lake also provides a place to splash and swim while becoming better acquainted with new-found or fast-and-firm friends.
Throughout the Summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break Camps there are many special focuses to provide a variety of adventures for the children. However in addition to fun you might remember that our core purposes include introducing children to Jesus and helping them to grow in their relationship with God. In order to accomplish this each day we set apart time to enjoy time learning about God and His plans through a brief devotional time, daily Bible lessons, memorizing Bible verses, learning through mission stories, singing songs, and fun review games.
Adults, teens, and children will stop regularly those of us wearing a Camp Good News shirt to eagerly share that “I went to Camp Good News …” along with something positive that they remember from their time at camp.