By Jennifer Lamey
Camp Hickory Hill (CHH) in Varysburg, NY offers an escape from the distractions of daily life to focus on what is most important; a relationship with the Lord, family, and friends. Under the leadership of Executive Director Sam Richbart and a number of exceptional staff the camp hosts year-round retreats, conferences, and groups in addition to week long camps throughout the summer. Camp Hickory Hill’s mission is to build Godly families for today and tomorrow. They achieve this through a dynamic summer camp schedule, family ministry, and hosting Christian groups.
The year-round family ministry includes a number of weekend events that focus on strengthening parent-child relationships in a Christ-centered environment. January 19-20, 2018 the CHH will host a Father & Son Winter Retreat. At this retreat father’s (or guardians) and sons will enjoy times of fellowship, worship and teaching, along with fun winter activities including sledding, snowshoeing and the snow tubing mountain! The father-daughter retreat will take place February 16-17, 2018 offering the same winter adventures. Moms can join in the fun at the Mother & Daughter spring retreat May 5-6, 2018 which includes Archery, Rifles, a rock wall, 9 Square in the Air, an obstacle course, and canoeing to name just a few activities. The goal of this time is to “provide a way for moms and daughters to build their relationship, worship God, and have fun” said Mr. Richbart. The whole family is encouraged to gather on May 26, 2018 for the Family Frenzy event from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM is a fun-filled day full of activities for all ages including the high ropes course and zip line, archery, climbing wall, canoeing and fishing, gym games, and ravine hikes. For only $5.00 a person this is a day you don’t want to miss! These retreats are a special time for your family to connect away from distractions and focus on the most important parts of life. One of Sam Richbart’s favorite moments as the Executive Director was when a grandpa came up to him with his two grandsons saying they had something to share. The boys told Mr. Richbart they had put their life in Christ. “Now, the boys were excited, but their grandpa was really excited!” Mr. Richbart reflected.
During the summer Camp Hickory Hill is bustling with weekly camps for boys and girls ages 8-16. CHH is unique in their approach by not having co-ed camps. July is dedicated to the boys camps and August to the girls camps. “This enables kids to be themselves and build good friendships without the distraction that the opposite gender can have” explained Mr. Richbart. During July the staff is primarily male until the switch in August to a mainly female staff for the girl’s camps. Mr. Richbach feels that doing this creates a “relaxed atmosphere for discussion in a comfortable way.” Each week follows a similar structure of time of worship, devotion, teaching, access to camp facilities, and fellowship. However, what changes week to week are the special activities offered. For the boys these special activities range from “Airsoft Rapid Fire,” “nerf mania,” “Mighty Men Base Camp,” and many more. Girls special activities include Pet camp, Horsemanship, Artisan Camp, and Ropes Course camp. “although some programs overlap there are differences between what the boys and girls are interested in at these ages and we can meet those differences through separate camp weeks” Mr. Richbach said.
Not only will the kids have fun reaching a new height on the climbing wall, they will have the opportunity to learn from a number of Godly mentors. Leadership development is a high priority at Camp Hickory Hill. Campers are encouraged to take on leadership roles, these opportunities increase with age from 14 year old’s helping as “Service Crew” to “Junior and Senior Leaders” with extensive camp counselor training, in-depth biblical exploration and teaching. About 80% of the staff at CHH have come through the leadership development program. “[It’s exciting to] see campers develop into young leaders, sold out to serve the Lord at camp and wherever they go” said Mr. Richbach.
Camp Hickory Hill is not just for kids, but for anyone looking to refresh their spirit surrounded by new and old friends. This April (27-28) Camp Hickory Hill in partnership with Christian Service Brigade will host a Men’s retreat with keynote speaker Bill Paige. Mr. Paige will draw from his 20 years of police and detective work and 15+ years in senior leadership with Young Life to encourage men to become who God has called them to be in every aspect of their life.
From family retreats to summer horsemanship camps, Camp Hickory Hill is dedicated to being a resource for families, churches, and local organizations to connect with one another, have fun, and above all develop a strong and lasting relationship with the Lord. To learn more about the upcoming retreats and summer camps please visit them online at www.camphickoryhill.org.