More than six decades of fun and activities continues to be key in the lives of youth with Camp Glad Tidings.
The Bloomfield-based camp was established in 1956 and remains the region’s bible camp. Camp Director Eric "Gil" Kimmons said the goal remains to keep the kids engaged during their time at the camp.
“Especially the younger kids, we over plan because they might have shorter attention spans. The activities tend to be bigger as the age gets older,” Kimmons said. Kids can take away many different lessons from summer camps, especially bible camps. Kimmons has a very specific lessons to be taken away with the children.
“We want to clearly present the gospel plan of salvation. We want them to hear that and understand what that means. We want to provide them opportunities to respond to the gospel message,” Kimmons said.
He went on to explain how one of their goals is to get the kids to not only open up to the Bible but to become interested in reading it themselves.
“We don't want to stand up in front of them and tell them this is what you are to believe, we want them to open it up and say we believe what the Bible says is true,” Kimmons said.
Kimmons, who has been the camp director for 5 years and replaced Mike and Vita Chase of Bloomfield, said camp staff want the children to come out and have a good time, adding “We want them to have a positive and encouraging time so that they know that there is that potential to have agood time in a positive environment.”
The children learn a lot and hopefully take an interest in the Bible but will also learn life skills such as building relationships, he said. They focus a lot on relationships. Since they are a smaller camp, Kimmons said they can build closer relationships.
Kimmons spent many summers as a camper and staff at Timberlake Camp by Central City. He worked at several other camps, including Camp Oasis south of Lincoln.
Kimmons received his degree in business management, and then found the camp director opening five years ago. He said it was the perfect opportunity for him.
“We run four camps of our own on site and one wilderness camp where we go to the black hills. We also have two rental groups that come in and run their own camps. They bring their own staff and their own campers. I consider them more of the South Dakota wing of our camp. They have ownership of the place. But we have activity going on all summer,” Kimmons said.
Most of the children attending Glad Tidings live within a one hundred-mile radius of the camp. About 70 to 80 percent come from the Bloomfield, Hartington, Crofton and Yankton areas.
This summer’s camp theme is Superheros.The kids will participate in a superhero photo shoot. So they have various stations where they get to pose as a superhero for a photograph. The photos will be used to make a video with superhero music.
“God wants ordinary people to do super things for him. Our speakers are speaking on that loosely. What is in our superhero toolbox. Like batman has his belt. God has given us superhero tools and why would he do that if he doesn't want us to do super things for him. This is just one idea of what we may talk about through the week,” Kimmons explained.
Guest speaker Marlowe Carlson said they are taking contemporary superheroes and talking about what makes them a superhero. Then they compare them to biblical superheroes and determine what the traits of every superhero are.
“Hopefully at the end of the day, they will remember something. The most important thing to remember is that you can be a superhero and you can do things, it's not about what you do but who you are. Who you are makes you a superhero, not what you do,” Carlson said.
The senior high group will start out their week with well-known Christian rock band Remedy Drive. The free concert will be followed by outdoor activities such as archery, crafts, music and camp fires.
Kimmons said after five years as director, he is experienced enough to know what kind of changes need made and has a long list of ideas to implement to develop the camp even further.
For more information on Camp Glad Tidings go to www.gladtidingsbiblecamp.org/about.