Jul 05, 2022

College of the Ozarks hosts 28th Camp Lookout for area youth

Camper Emmie Wilks enjoys playing on the Camp Lookout playground. After two years of COVID precautions, Camp Lookout returned for a 28th year of summer camp.
Camper Emmie Wilks enjoys playing on the Camp Lookout playground. After two years of COVID precautions, Camp Lookout returned for a 28th year of summer camp.

POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — Camp Lookout, a community outreach program hosted by College of the Ozarks, continued its 30-year-mission of offering a free, week-long summer camp to children in Stone and Taney counties this summer. After two years of COVID precautions, Camp Lookout has returned for a 28th year of summer camp. This year’s camp theme is “He is Everything to Us” and is designed to remind campers of the importance of a relationship with Jesus.

Camp Lookout is hosted on the College of the Ozarks campus at the campgrounds, complete with an activities field, housing, and playgrounds. For the summer of 2022, five sessions of camp were offered from May 30 - July 1. Approximately 50 campers ages 8-12 from Stone and Taney County participated in Camp Lookout activities each week.

In designing this program, the College wanted to provide a Christian camp experience for children with financial need.

Ryan Knight, College of the Ozarks student activities director and co-director of Camp Lookout, has served as camp director for eight years. Lori Simmons serves as the College of the Ozarks Christian ministries community service coordinator and co-director of Camp Lookout. Together, they oversee the camp, planning, training of the counselors, and implementation. Training included team-building activities, safety training, developing the teaching materials, and preparing the campground for the campers.

“There are many summer opportunities in the Ozarks, but Camp Lookout is the only one that offers a free summer experience for kids who may not be able to afford to attend camp,” Simmons said.

“Camp is a place where kids can be kids,” Knight said. “They are cared for by Jesus-loving and kid-loving young adults who are all about making an impact on the next generation!”

Campers participate in a variety of activities while spending the week at camp, including water balloon fights, scavenger hunts, and swimming. Additionally, the campers go to Silver Dollar City once a week to enjoy the rides and sights. To celebrate the theme “He is Everything to Us,” evening worship sessions and devotions are also integrated into the daily camp schedule.

All activities at Camp Lookout are guided and supervised by a team of 50 counselors who rotate shifts to spend time with the kids either in morning, afternoon, or evening. Counselors are all students at College of the Ozarks who have a passion for helping children and a love for Christ.

“The Christian Ministries team, headed by Lori Simmons, work tirelessly in the planning stages of camp starting in January to get camp off the ground,” Knight said. “This team is essential to the day-to-day operation of camp, and they serve with such care and intentionality. Lori leads counselors and the office staff in spiritual and leadership development throughout the summer. Without their devotion to this program, camp would not see the level of success it has experienced in changing the lives of campers and counselors.”

Sarah Dickey, sophomore video production major, reflected on the importance of her training, specifically related to sharing the Christian goal of the camp.

“We have to make sure our relationship with the Lord is solid before we can teach kids about the Lord. This includes developing a consistent prayer life, studying the Bible, and living with Christlike character,” Dickey said.

Sophomore criminal justice major Philip Busenitz has enjoyed the opportunity to start important conversations with the kids at camp and develop friendships. Some of those conversations have led to the ultimate goal of Camp Lookout, which is showing children the truth of the Bible and helping them understand the importance of salvation.

“I had a camper last week who I talked with about the love of God and His offer of salvation on Wednesday,” Busenitz said. “On Thursday morning, as soon as I saw him, he said, ‘Can we talk more about salvation today?’ By the end of the day, he had given his life to Christ. It is so wonderful and sobering that God has chosen to use us as His means of bringing people to Himself.”