In everything we do at Ridgecrest Summer Camps, the focus is to foster, build and strengthen relationships. We build relationships with staff, campers and their families. We create memories and an environment that fosters deepening relationships. But ultimately, everything we do is rooted in and points others toward a relationship with their Creator. In essence, the message we share is: “Follow me as I follow Jesus."
Create Purposeful Experiences
When campers exit our gates, they go home different than when they arrive. The experience we create is unique from other ministries or camps and rich in tradition and history in a way that invites them into a family. We go the extra mile to set up our counselors to be heroes in the eyes of the campers they lead, so they build relationships and bonds that set the stage for conversations and life change.
Whether it be our traditional summer program, weekend family camps, or through online discipleship programs, we serve large numbers of campers and families at a time. With the size and scope of our ministry, it can be easy to focus on the masses or groups of people, but we intentionally keep our focus on each individual camper who comes through our gates. Each camper has a story with individual needs, burdens and dreams. It’s our job, through building relationships, to enter into that story and meet them where they are. And lastly, we serve the One who is the author of our story, creator of this place, and owner of this ministry. The hope of the gospel compels us to show up, keep going, and persevere on our challenging days.
Make It Better
Our camps are rich in tradition and history. While we hold onto many games, stories and programs that have impacted lives for generations, we are unafraid to adapt and evolve to make things better or reach campers in a new or different way. Traditions are a great thing, but we don’t continue things just for “tradition’s sake”. We constantly ask “why” and sharpen our program, ministry and property so that we can reach campers with the gospel better this year than we did last year and better next year than this year.
What Makes Us Unique
With a mission that reaches back to the 1920s, Ridgecrest Summer Camps has been investing in the next generation of men for longer than any of us have been alive. We have seen 4 generations of the same family attend Camp Ridgecrest. Our full-time Camp Director Team has well over 100 years of leadership in the camping industry, and we are committed to offering a place where your son feels safe, where he stretches himself to try things he can't experience anywhere else, and where he encounters the God that created him, all in one day. Your son's two-week adventure at Camp Ridgecrest will be a cornerstone of his faith, as well as his character, and it will change him forever.
The strength of our camp comes from God being placed first in all that we do, a strong sense of tradition, a mindset focused on safety, and the development of an unbelievably fun environment. Camp is focused on individual attention and building one-on-one relationships. We pull these components together to deliver a camp experience unlike any other.
Why A Boys' Camp?
We believe strongly in running two separate camps, one serving boys and one serving girls. This single-gender approach has numerous benefits for the type of Christian camping experience we want to provide. While simply "letting boys be boys" is quite important to us, we see benefits that extend beyond this axiom. At a boys camp, the desire to impress females and to continue the lifestyle they know at home (for most) in a co-ed school is diminished. Our boys are more free to be themselves, to get dirty, to have fun, and to understand more clearly that God made them in His image - that he made them boys for a reason.
Boys and girls are not the same. In a single-gender camp, boys can pursue their interests without additional pressure in front of their female peers. A boys' camp develops a boy's uniqueness and individuality. Counselors at a boys' camp can teach effectively in ways that reach boys and cater to their learning style.
We also know that boys and girls grow up at different rates. At camp, boys are given time to grow up at their own pace, whereas in a coed setting, the girls' more advanced clocks define both learning and structure. Our counselors seek positive relationships that are focused on the individual. For our boys to know they can be themselves and be loved is a strong reassurance as they adjust to camp life.
Our camps are founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and our staff seek to show the love, grace, and truth of Him in all that they do. Kids can plainly see that actions speak louder than words. We hope that the lives of our staff will reflect God in such a way that the lives of their campers would be transformed. We call this Discipleship.
We want each camper that comes through our gates to know that they are loved unconditionally. This is our desire because this is how God loves us. He loved us first and continues to love us despite all of our imperfections. We want our campers to know that God has created each of them as individuals, with different gifts and traits that only they possess. Above all, we want our campers to leave camp understanding God more, with a simple knowledge of how to grow in a relationship with the God that created him.
We do this in a variety of ways. Beyond the environment fostered here at camp, which nurtures growth in Christ, we have put in place many events and activities that help campers see Christ in a brand new way. Exciting Campfires, enthusiastic Morning Watches, powerful Worship, rich Quiet Times, and relational evening Devotions all help our campers to be more in tune with Jesus and to strengthen their relationship with Him. These activities are designed with each specific age group in mind, geared to break through the clutter of our lives so that they can see and understand the clarity of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Plus, campers get to experience all of this while having the time of their lives surrounded by caring adults who will love them no matter how they respond! Read more here:
About Our Staff
We believe that our staff are the most integral part in the development of our campers. This is why we go to great lengths to find the best staff around. We are quite selective in our search process and hold high standards for our employees. It is the staff we hire that will be on the frontlines each day interacting with our campers. It is this group of upstanding Christian role models that we seek to share not only Christ, but their lives as well (1 Thessalonians 2:8). It is our staff that go the extra mile?taking time to take a walk with them when they need a friend, being exceptionally patient in teaching a new skill, ensuring that each camper feels known.
We understand that this is a lot to ask of anyone, much less our college-aged staff. Many of our staff care for children throughout the year in various capacities. Many have competed in college-level sports and activities. Many have even grown up at camp, now desiring to give back a little portion of what camp has given them. But all of them come with one united goal, to help campers build their relationship with God in a safe, fun-filled environment.
Learn more about how we screen our staff.
Following Lifeway’s 2020 announcement of plans to sell Ridgecrest Conference Center, Camp Crestridge for Girls, and Camp Ridgecrest for Boys, a dedicated group of men and women started praying for Lifeway leadership, Ridgecrest team members, and the next steward of these ministries – whomever that might be. Over time they began exploring the possibility of becoming that steward, adding specific expertise, prayer supporters, and counsel from wise advisors – and God provided the opportunity.
Formalized in September 2020 as a Delaware nonprofit corporation, the Ridgecrest Foundation, Inc., now serves as the parent organization for each of the Ridgecrest ministries and their respective assets. As stated in the Foundation’s by-laws, the primary purposes of the Foundation are “to share the love of God, as revealed through the life and teachings of his only son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Bible, God’s Word; to be a steward of the legacy and assets of the Ridgecrest Conference Center and the Ridgecrest Summer Camps; and to support the ministries of the Ridgecrest Conference Center and Ridgecrest Summer Camps and their opportunities to impact lives for God’s glory within a loving, servant-minded, purposefully hospitable, and gospel-centered environment." In short, the Ridgecrest Foundation exists to carry on the ministries of Ridgecrest Conference Center, Camp Crestridge, and Camp Ridgecrest so that millions more lives will be impacted in the decades to come.
Camp Photo Archives
Every summer since 1929 we have taken a group photo with every camper and staffer! If you came here as a camper, worked here on staff, or even know someone who has done either of those, meander through our camper and staffer history in photos!
Under the administration of the SBC Education Board, steps were taken to have a summer camp for boys and girls. The initial step was the building of a 15-acre lake, now known as Lake Ridgecrest. The long-range plan called for a girl's camp on one side of the lake and a boy's camp on the other side. Today, Lake Ridgecrest is the centerpiece at Camp Ridgecrest for boys and Crestridge sits on the opposite side of I-40. Under the leadership of Mrs. J.M. Dawson, then of Waco, Texas, a girl's camp, known as Camp Swannanoa, was operated in the summer of 1926 and 1927. A large two-story residence was purchased from Dr. B.W. Spilman; it was used as a camp headquarters building. A number of cabins and other facilities were then built. However, logistical business issues caused the camp to close in 1928.
When the Baptist Sunday School Board took charge in 1929, they realized the need for a boy's camp. Under the leadership of Mr. Noble Van Ness, who was active with the Boy Scouts at that time, plans were made to open a boy's camp in 1929. Mr. Frank E. Burkhalter served as director during the inaugural summer. The camp was programmed for one two-week trial session. The results were so rewarding that planning for the 1930 season was begun immediately. Van Ness knew the key to success was to have a highly regarded, qualified director. He selected Charles W. Burts, a young student at Yale, who had five years of experience a counselor and assistant director in other private camps. Charles worked with Van Ness to enlarge the 1930 season. Based on the success of the first two-week session, they planned for eight weeks of camp. Burts served as director each summer through 1938.
Attendance was small during the first years. Burts later estimated that
between 40 and 50 boys attended each session. The program offered a variety of
activities, and a strong Christian emphasis permeated every aspect of camp
life. A worship service was held early each morning and each evening.
The Native American motif that traditionally been the camp trademark began in the 1930 season. Campers and staff have continued to meet for Council Rings through the years. This was designed to help boys grow strong of heart and body, while the Christian emphasis led them closer to their Savior.
One historic feature of Camp Ridgecrest for Boys is the large log building
in the center of the campus. It was completed in 1942 and houses the kitchen,
two dining hall wings, and a gym. The gym area has a huge fireplace at one end
that allows for meetings to take place on cool mountain evenings. The building
is the largest, oldest, vertical log structure east of the Mississippi River.
Camp Ridgecrest usually operated for one six-week session. Burts cut the season back from eight to six weeks after the 1930 season. In 1950, Perry Morgan felt the time had come to enlarge the camp and enlist a full-time director. Through the years, the strength of the staff has been a major factor in the camp's success. Listing the multitude of persons who have given of themselves to camp is not practical. However, listed below are the directors and their years of service.
Camp Ridgecrest Directors
Frank E. Burkhalter: 1929
Charles W. Burts: 1930-1938
John W. Hughston, Jr.: 1939-1940
J.D. (Red) Franks, Jr.: 1941
Darrell C. Richardson: 1942
Richard C. Burts, Jr.: 1943
J.W. Hill: 1944
Perry Morgan, Manager and Director: 1945
Chaplain Nat H. Brittain: 1946-1947
James R. Howlett: 1948-1949
George W. Pickering: 1950-1955
Harry McCall, Jr.: 1956-1958
Wayne Chastain: 1959-1963
Ken Bryant: 1964-1965
Darrell Richardson: 1966-1968
Monroe Ashley: 1969-1973
Ridgecrest Summer Camps
Rick Johnson: 1974-1984
Ron Springs: 1985-2021
Phil Berry: 2021-Present