Camp of the Hills is a ministry dedicated to revealing and glorifying Jesus Christ by providing life-changing experiences for inner-city kids and for families seeking to strengthen and enrich their marriages.
Each summer, Camp of the Hills is dedicated to demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ to the children of the inner-city. We focus on building critical life-skills such as self-esteem, responsibility, and faith through our special program. Having reached over 13,000 children over the last twenty-five years, our ministry is made possible by the grace of God as well as the loving dedication of thousands of volunteers and donors each year.
After suffering a devastating fire which resulted in the complete loss of our main facilities in March 2010, Camp of the Hills has risen from the ashes ready and willing to serve more children than ever before. We have come through the fire blessed with beautiful new facilities that will allow us to serve the next generation of God’s children.
Mission / Vision
The primary mission of Camp of the Hills is to reveal the love of God and His creation to at-risk children. Many of the children come from family structures and cultures where unconditional love is not a given and with little or no influence of Christ-centered guidance in their lives. Camp offers this kind of love through interaction with our counselors, who are faithfully committed Christian university students. Camp helps these children develop relationship skills and self-esteem. The goal is to instill hope in Christ and help children make God-led lifelong decisions. Camp is also used for retreats by churches, university student ministries, marriage enrichment groups and parent-child camp-outs throughout the year.
Camp began in the summer of 1990 when two men of faith brought eight inner city kids from Houston’s 5th Ward to the shores of Lake Travis for a few days of camping, swimming and fishing. The kids had never experienced the outdoors and had been asked to leave another summer camp for behavior reasons. They camped and cooked under the stars on land owned by Nelson Lewis, a contractor and rancher who lived nearby in the small community of Smithwick. There were no facilities or infrastructure. Over time, camp acquired a 105-acre site and, with primarily volunteer labor, constructed a main building, seven boy’s and girl’s cabins, two bath houses, a laundry room, eight sponsor cabins, water and wastewater systems and a concrete swimming hole.
Camp of the Hills operates on an extremely lean annual operating budget and with a handful of paid staff. Approximately 84% of operating funds come from individuals and 16% from churches. Camp leverages this budget with annual donations of almost 17,000 volunteer hours. Hundreds of individuals return each year to do facilities maintenance, clean, sort donated clothing, do laundry, provide food and cook nutritious meals for the campers. Camp of the Hills is a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).
Since 1990, over 13,000 children have been introduced to the love of Christ through this ministry. 80% come from the major cities of Texas. The remaining 20% are from ten or so smaller communities. Camp provides eight weekly summer camp sessions for children ages 8 to 18 who are accompanied by adult church and community organization sponsors. No child is turned away because of his or her background.
Camp sessions are organized for specific age groups and have from 75 to 100 campers each session. The counselor staff consists of 40-50 male and female university students who raise their own support to serve this ministry. Prior to first session, the counselors go through a rigorous training regimen with written curriculum and role-playing scenarios to prepare them for their responsibilities. Weekly camp sessions are spent in a mix of outdoor activities, skits, singing, spiritual drama, study of God’s word and intensive personal interaction with the counselor staff. Each weekly session is highlighted by a powerful crucifixion and resurrection reenactment by the camp’s counselors.
Michael joined the staff in June 2011 as Development Director. He was a former camp counselor in 1998 & 1999, where he met, fell in love with and got engaged to Cara, the camp nurse. Michael and Cara worked full-time in inner- city ministry for over 10 years and brought children to Camp of the Hills every summer. They have three children, Tristan, Brendan, and Eden. Michael and Cara have a passion for at-risk children and seeing them come to know and be transformed by Jesus.
Drew has a long history with Camp of the Hills, serving as a volunteer, Camp Assistant, Counselor, and Camp Director before being hired as Program Director. He and his wife, Amanda, fell in love at camp and their wedding was the first event in our new dining hall. Despite run-ins with errant rocks to the head and almost-dead rattlesnakes over the years, there’s nowhere on Earth that Drew feels more at home. His passion for recruiting new counselors and staff stems from a love of sharing what God is doing at camp, and imagining ways for others’ talents and passions to join in that good work.
Vicki moved into the Marble Falls area in 2006 and began volunteering at CotH in the off season. In 2010, when the Camp hired a full time office manager, Vicki filled the position. She and her husband James have 2 adult sons, Alex and Mason. Vicki is passionate about Jesus and the study of His Word. Her hobbies include jewelry making and salt-water fishing.
Board of Directors
Camp of the Hills is a non-profit organization that relies on our Board of Directors for leadership and guidance. The Board meets throughout the year to guide the ministry of COTH and bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus.
2017 Camp of the Hills Board of Directors
Donnie & Rayne Barfield
Greg & Sue Barnhill
Ronnie & Judy Brooks
Danny & Kathy Davis
Hank & Janet Lewis
Ken & Diane Martin