Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
Image by Boch
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Any day you can help make memories for young people new to shooting ranks as a great day for them and for you. Once more I had the chance to volunteer to help some young men shoot rifles Friday afternoon at the Father-Son Camp in Oakwood, Illinois.  Both the weather and the fellowship proved exceptional as we made memories that the kids will keep with them for years to come.

It wasn’t my first rodeo at the camp. I’ve been there a few times before as time and my availability permitted. And frankly, it’s a birthday gift to myself to volunteer to help there. It’s a Christian-themed camp and it feels like we’re doing God’s work with these kids helping them learn the fun and excitement of the shooting sports.

Frankly, watching these kids get all thrilled over shooting for the first time — or maybe the second time — and hitting the target really is a great present to enjoy.

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
I believe this was Luke. Image by Boch

This year, with California-style weather in Illinois, it proved simply perfect and we ran through almost two hundred kids on Friday afternoon. More will come out on Saturday afternoon, keeping volunteer instructors and range officers hopping.

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
Image by Boch

Today, they came as young as four and a few “kids” in their thirties and forties shot some as well.  And for the record, when men say they’re having a hard time seeing the front sight on the youth rifle, they’re probably in their mid-forties or older.

One veteran of the Father-Son Camp father who came through my station said he had a dozen kids (OMG), and six of his seven boys came along this particular weekend.  He shared that he had come for close to a dozen years in a row and loved the camp almost as much as his boys.  And his boys looked forward to attending months in advance and they talked about the camp and the incredible speakers for months after they attended in the past.

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
Josiah takes his turn. Image by Boch

During the daytime hours, they have events including the rifle line where I volunteered, as well as archery, clay birds, tomahawk throwing, obstacle courses, woodworking, paintball, as well as hiking, biking and fishing.  In the evenings they have some outstanding motivational speakers, true role models for the kids.  And not the Hollywood trash type of “role models.”

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
Josiah takes his turn. Image by Boch

I still remember the first time I helped out a few years ago.  I thought it was something with 50 or 100 kids and when I saw upwards of 1200 or more fathers and sons, my jaw just dragged through the grass.

It’s organized by Chris Miller who now serves as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly.  One of his friends, Darren Bailey, is running neck and neck to replace our authoritarian, anti-gun Governor JB Pritzker.

Oh yeah, and Chris’ wife Mary now serves as a US Congresswoman.  The Millers truly represent people who serve others ahead of themselves.

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
Image by Boch

The Father-Son Camp describes itself this way…

Father Son Camp began unofficially in 1995 when 3-year-old Max Miller asked his dad, Chris, if they could go camping for his birthday with “no girls allowed!”

What began as an overnight outing for three dads and three sons grew to a four day event with over 500 fathers and sons in attendance. By combining outdoor adventures with inspiring ministry, the Miller family hopes to strengthen family bonds and ignite a passion for serving Jesus Christ. For over twenty years, the camp has been funded entirely by donations.

Father Son Camp Illinois New Shooter kids shooting learn to shoot
John Boch with one of the young men. Image by Boch.

From a couple of years ago, here’s more about the camp from FatherSonCamp.org . . .

Now in its 25th year, Father Son Camp is an annual event in Oakland, Illinois for approximately 600 campers. The camp combines inspiring ministry with outdoor adventures. Our goal is to create lasting memories between fathers and sons, and inspire them to live passionately for God. Knowing that the cost of a weekend like this could prohibit some families from attending, we are funded entirely by donations.

Ministry, meals and some activities are held at Walnut Point State Park. Other activities including paintball, obstacle course and archery/rifle range are held at the Miller Family Farm, about five minutes away. Both the park and the farm are located just outside the rural Illinois town of Oakland. Oakland is approximately one hour south of Champaign-Urbana.

Campers arrive on Thursday afternoon in time to set up their campsites, eat a provided dinner and listen to Norm Wakefield’s ministry. Friday and Saturday include morning and evening ministry sessions, and afternoons packed full of outdoor activities. Sunday features a worship service and a final ministry session before camp ends at noon. Campers are welcome to attend the entire weekend, or just come for a day or two.

Father Son Camp began unofficially in 1995 when Max Miller, as a 3-year-old, asked his dad, Chris, if they could go camping for his birthday with “no girls allowed!”

What began as an overnight outing for three dads and three sons has grown to a four day event accommodating approximately 600 fathers and sons. The Chris Miller family, along with multitudes of volunteers, endeavors to strengthen the bond between fathers and sons through outdoor adventures and ignite a passion for serving Jesus Christ through inspiring ministry.

This father/son camp is an independent camp and is not associated with any other father/son camp or ministry.

Registration for next year’s camp isn’t yet available but will be soon.

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  1. Great post! I went shooting with my dad as a kid-at the NRA range in Bonfield,ILL. Long ago I must say(1960’s)…keep up the good work!

  2. All well and good and deserves a huge round of applause…However Thanks to Gun Control there was a considerable time throughout American history when the Kid born with Black skin and their dad would have been excluded and whipped for trying to participate in such an event, etc.
    Therefore there is far more for young people to know about firearms outside of punching holes in paper.

  3. See also any Appleseed Project. GREAT Father/kid event. Daughters and sons. And learn some history of the Shot Heard Around the World.

    • Thanks for the info. Hadn’t heard about this organization. May try to make the one in Winterset on the 30th.

  4. John, in the first paragraph please change “Oakwood” to “Oakland”. Glad you and everyone else enjoyed themselves.

  5. Something I do with my son every weekend. He is really enjoying the sport and knows it cross-trains the mental aspects into his other sports (he is a state-level athlete already).

    And I enjoy teaching him.

  6. If so, then you might want to consider attending a father-son camp — and make memories with your son. Whether it’s your first or fifth time, a summer camp experience can do wonders for both of you. Here’s my top recommended father-son camps in Central Illinois and what they offer each special week.

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