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Winter 1997. The year a North Carolina youth pastor came across a magazine ad for a student camp that would change everything.
Snowbird’s founders had been in the planning stages for just more than a year with little to show for it. But we ran an advertisement in a Christian magazine anyway that there was a new student camp facility.
“[We] absolutely embellished, ya know, who we were and what we were as far as the physical side of things,” laughs Brody Holloway, co-founder and director.
Just like that, David Thompson, now one of the lead pastors of The Summit Church in Durham, NC, came across that ad, picked up the phone and, for some reason, agreed to come see the place.
“You have to realize this was a raw piece of land,” Brody says. “There wasn’t a cabin. There wasn’t a road. There wasn’t a walking path.”
Decorated with only cows and a corn patch, this “rough, raw, rugged piece of mountain land” had nothing to offer its soon-to-arrive potential church partner. Brody was sitting on his tractor trying to dig out some semblance of an entrance when David and his wife, Jenn, pulled up to the property that wintry day.
They had driven three-and-a-half hours only to pull into what was basically “a wide open field on the side of a mountain,” David says.
“With a tent?” Jenn adds.
No, no tent, they decide. But there was a shelter? Maybe. Or at least an outdoor restroom? OK, nothing really. This “camp” had nothing.
“But they casted a vision for what it was going to be,” David explains. “They kind of sold us on it … primarily, because of who they were, not because of any of the ‘amenities’ they were offering.”
David and Jenn laugh in agreement. Definitely not because of the amenities.
That next summer they loaded up approximately 60 students from their Center Grove Baptist Church in Clemmons, NC, and drove to Andrews for one week of camp filled with terrifyingly exciting new adventures and some of the most “incredibly powerful worship services” they had ever experienced.
We were engaging students with the Gospel — building relationships and making disciples, Brody explains. “So in that sense, the mission of Snowbird hasn’t changed.”
“If anything it’s become fortified. It’s become stronger. It’s become more focused. Hopefully we’ve matured as individuals and as a ministry. And what we were doing then, we are doing now, but by God’s grace, we are doing it more effectively. If God could so graciously enable us to impact those students, what can He do now and 20 years from now?”
We are seeing a small glimpse of that. Next week, we will welcome our 100,000th camper to that same slightly less-rugged mountain land, and we will obediently seek to engage him or her with the message of the Gospel. We are humbled to see the ways God has allowed us to be a part of His Great Commission. We are grateful for the churches, supporters, parents and students who have prayerfully and financially partaken in this great task. We know this work could not have continued without your partnerships.
We have been blessed and honored to receive God’s favor and your friendship these past 20 years and ask for your prayerful support in 2018. We hope you have a wonderful and grace-filled Christmas week.
Preach the Gospel. Build relationships. Make disciples. Glorify Christ Jesus.
The SWO staff
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