Bible Camp tradition in faith and fun | CraigDailyPress.com

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Bible Camp tradition in faith and fun

Fresh air, glistening streams, miles of trails to explore, and 40 friends — possibly the ideal place for children to study the Bible and explore their faith.

Mount Elim Bible Camp, tucked away on the edge of Routt National Forest outside Steamboat Springs, has been a tradition children have looked forward to every summer for almost 50 years.

“They get up there in the mountains, away from TVs and video games, and get closer to God,” said Lu Ann Kline, who spent nine summers at the camp as a child.

Her great-grandfather was one of Mount Elim’s five founders, and five generations of her family have gone to the camp. She is now the secretary of First Baptist Church of Craig.

She said the camp is so important to her family that “kids would rather attend camp than take a summer job.”

Mount Elim’s camps are nondenominational and open to any youth, as long as they understand that they will study the Bible from a Christian perspective, Kline said.

Mount Elim’s is owned by a conference of Northwest Colorado churches of various faiths, including the First Baptist Church of Craig. While the majority of campers come from the four churches involved, Mount Elim attracts children from across the state and beyond.

No moment is wasted at Mount Elim camp, as one day could involve everything from baptisms to capture-the-flag.

There are three camp sessions (elementary, junior high, and high school) with up to 65 campers in each. The four-night adventure includes Bible classes and devotion time intertwined with any outdoor activities children can think up.

While Mount Elim’s famous “crud” war (a huge food fight) is a big hit with campers, Nancy Gutierrez, 13, said her favorite part of camp is hiking to Inspiration Point.

“You can see everything,” she said. But the most important part, she added, is “seeing kids grow in Christ.”

Gutierrez has been to camp for the past six summers, and though she can’t attend this year’s junior high camp, she worked as a junior counselor and dishwasher at the junior camp for elementary children.

Mount Elim sets itself apart from other Bible camps because the staff, aside from one camp manager, are volunteers. Junior dishwashers have to pay for their stay while they work.

“It amazes me that people will pay for the privilege of washing dishes at camp,” Kline said.

Mount Elim’s sits on 40 acres of Rocky Mountain scenery, which was purchased for $5,000 a half a century ago.

Kline recalls the area being desolate during her camping days, but today, high-scale residences are popping up nearby on valuable property.

George Moyer, president of Mount Elim Camp board, said offers have been made to buy the camp, but it could never be sold. The founders protected their vision from such commercial endeavors, and even stated that if for some reason it became defunct it would be donated to a similar cause.