Dozens of vans and campers rolled into Restoration Acres campground off SR 124 north of Hillsboro on Sunday and Monday for Hillsboro Family Camp, a yearly Christian retreat that regularly draws thousands of people from across the country to hear sermons, worship and experience fellowship with each other in the outdoors.
Kerry Allen, executive director of Person to Person Ministries, said he’s been involved with Family Camp since he began serving with the ministry in 1998.
Person to Person Ministries, which formed in 1967, hosted the first Family Camp in 1972 at one of the founders’ farms, and since then, the event has continued to grow, drawing crowds of campers from as many as 30 states across the U.S., according to Allen.
“It’s grown over the years,” he said. “We have been very blessed.”
According to Allen, the Family Camp features scheduled programs in the morning, afternoon and evening for all age groups. In the evenings, adults gather in the large pavilion at the campground to worship and hear a sermon, he said.
Allen said the evening services will feature pastors from Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. In addition, he said, those in attendance will hear from missionaries to Australia and Mexico.
The evening services see the highest turnout during the week, Allen said, often totalling over 1,000.
“Especially during the night programs, it just fills up,” he said.
The campground, which sits on 158 acres in Highland County, includes RV camping areas and plenty of room for tents and vans. Allen encouraged those in the Highland County community to come out for the evening events, which are free of charge, although an offering is taken during the service.
Allen said the annual event has inspired other groups from around the country to form their own family camps, and Person to Person hosts seven other annual events in other areas, which keeps Allen busy most of the year.
“I’m on the road most of the time,” he said.
But when he’s not on the road, much of his time is spent preparing for Family Camp – and he said he always looks forward to seeing who shows up.
Clint Hicks, for example, has come to Family Camp all the way from Dalton, Ga. for several years, and for the past two years has driven his RV with his wife, Janice. The couple, who have been married for 47 years, were sitting in front of their RV Monday afternoon as Clint Hicks played his guitar.
Another group, found sitting around an afternoon campfire, told The Times-Gazette they were family and friends from Indiana and Ohio who have made Family Camp a yearly tradition.
Wherever the campers come from, Allen said, “There’s a little something for everybody.”
For more information on Person to Person Ministries, visit www.p2pm.org.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.