Father-Son Camp Has Been Embracing the Shooting Sports for 25 Years

Photo by John Boch

The annual Father-Son Camp in East Central Illinois has grown dramatically over the years. It started with three dads and their sons a quarter century ago. This year, upwards of 800 participants came out to experience ministry and some outdoor adventures.

While some camps seem to eschew what they see as “icky” guns, this camp embraces firearms and the shooting sports. Because, as we know, “outdoor adventures” includes fun like archery, riflery and shotgun shooting.

I volunteered to help coach on the rifle line, not really knowing what I signed up for. I was completely unprepared for the huge numbers of participants.

Participants read Guns Save Life’s GunNews Magazine while waiting for their turn shooting.  Photo by John Boch.

The people just kept coming and coming and the line waiting to shoot kept growing longer.  Many of the dads brought their home-schooled kids. Plenty more came from Christian private schools from across Illinois and Indiana.  They included the very young as well as older kids. Some had experience shooting.  More than a few had never fired a gun before. We fixed that.

Photo by John Boch

One in particular reminded me of Ralph from A Christmas Story . . .

Photo by John Boch

Photo by John Boch

Some of the youngest kids had a hard time getting hits on the target. However, in the end, everyone scored a few. Even if they had a little help from the coaches on either side of them.

Yes, everyone was a winner at this camp.

Interestingly, the camp is put on at no charge to participants. Generous donations fund the entire weekend’s activities and volunteers help run the various events for the boys and their dads – everything from fishing to shooting sports to canoeing.  Along with the motivational speakers in the evenings as well.

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.

Photo by John Boch

Judging by the hundreds of folks lined up to shoot, the kids really loved getting a chance to shoot. We coaches cycled a whole lot of them through over four hours without any breaks. I suspect we had as much fun coaching as the kids did shooting.

comments

  1. avatar BUZ HODGES says:

    Great idea, this is why the american soldier in WWII was a good marksman! The experience of shooting with dad builds a good repor between the two. The more the kids know the better off the rest of us are. I spent 35 years in law enforcement and the kids that spent time with dad were much less likely to get in trouble!!!

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Buz, be careful what you say here. Many who frequent this site hate us L.E.O.s. Just a heads up.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Not everyone. Some of us “non sworn” sheepdogs know full well what our LEOs endure because we do much of the same tasks and shoulder much of the same responsibility ourselves, albeit in different capacities and spheres.

        In regards to the article, though, I got a good chuckle from the “Ralphie” pics. Glad to see all those youngsters enjoying themselves in the good ‘ol American tradition of shooting targets and imaginary bad guys with your Dad.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          My wife bought me a leg lamp one year for Christmas. That kid does look like Ralphie.

      2. avatar X marks the spot says:

        Gee, I couldn’t possibly wonder why the public at large hates LEOs in 2019.

        1. avatar Merle 0 says:

          It’s because the media told you too, and you do what the media commands, when they command it.

    2. avatar enuf says:

      Not at all negative on police. But let’s face it, most of the posts about them on TTAG are when they do really bad things. Of course people are going to comment on wrong doing. Doesn’t make them cop-haters, but it does make them haters of bad cops.

      That’s a good thing.

      1. avatar Merle 0 says:

        No, because it’s a constant negative message. If it was fair, it would show all the times police saved someone. But here, like the rest of the media, it’s just constant bashing. TTAG takes its orders from the media Gods just like CNN does.

  2. avatar The Crimson Pirate says:

    My brother and I had our first shooting experience as children at a camp with the YMCA Indian Guides. It was sort of an analog to the Boy Scouts, but with a father and son focus. We were both hooked. I have no idea how the organization is today, or if it has even survived. But I believe any father/son organizations and activities are sorely needed today.

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      The Young Men’s Christian Association, YMCA, was an international association with offices all over the world. I remember when the atheist lobby forced the group to stop the religious portion of the “Ragger” program. A faith-based confidence building activity. The atheists have been working to separate Liberty from the group and individual for a very long time now.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Militant atheistism is the most annoying form of proselytization. Even to other non-believers.

        At least people who are actually religious are trying to do you a favor in trying to save your soul. Atheists in this context are spreading the “divine word” of… nothing.

        1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

          The atheist have created “a monster” that is eating them and other Leftists. Where do atheists get their morality? Their Sexual Liberation has destroyed them and their Leader. But they certainly are having a great time doing it!
          I don’t believe they support the Bill Of Rights.

          Feminist Tyranny | David Silverman Interview 51 minutes long

        2. avatar Ing says:

          Atheism is the world’s most toxic and obnoxious religion. (Think about it…can they *prove* no god exists? No, they cannot. They just fervently believe it.)

        3. avatar Merle 0 says:

          Atheists will all be Islamic in 50 years.

        4. avatar Southern Cross says:

          How about Revivalist Fundamentalist Atheism?

  3. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I will say it because nobody else will. The Libertarians Liberals and the Left publicly said a father is not necessary to raise children. They said single motherhood was a “lifestyle choice “.

    The three L’s support the Welfare industrial Complex. They hate the church. They hate the synagogue.
    It was private religious based charity that took care of those in need. Now replaced by government $$$. And the father and his guns have been replaced by a big city police department.

    As I said before the only long term solution is a strategy to educate children about their 2A civil rights. So they will become the adult defenders of all of the Bill of Rights.

    Now try and explain that to people who have aren’t married and have no children.

    Also it seems the only ones defending the 2A in education are religious people. Most of the three L’s don’t have children.

    FYI
    The Freedom From Religion Foundation sponsored the last Democrat Party debate. What is their position on the second amendment? On gun free zones? On religious based gun civil rights education?

    Do these atheists support making government bigger or smaller?

  4. avatar LifeSavor says:

    Heartwarming…building healthy families and healthy communities. I love that there are so many homeschoolers and the grounding in faith. A strong counter to the destructive confusion metasticizing through the left.

  5. avatar enuf says:

    The photo of that little guy with gritted teeth, hauling back with all his little muscles to cock that rifle is absolutely golden.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Yup and double yup.

      If the gentleman in that photo is the lad’s father, I hope he frames that pic and hangs it in the entryway of their home.

  6. avatar PTM says:

    This is fantastic. I’m fortunate to live in the Saint Louis, Missouri area where we have some of the very finest Scout camps in the nation. Nothing made me prouder than when my two sons participated in a two week shooting camp where they got to shoot everything from .22LR to muzzle loading black powder 50 caliber rifles, under expert teachers and instructors.

    God bless these dads…and remember (as I found out today) you have Grandfathering to look forward to!

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      You just found out you’re going to be a granddaddy? If I interpreted that correctly, then congratulations! I’m still waiting for such good news to reach me.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I got 10 of them. From 2 month to 14 years. Better than a sack full of wiggly puppies.

  7. avatar VicRattlehead says:

    HUUUUUUUUUGE thumbs up for an event like this! The fact that something of this scale is put on for FREE practically brings a tear to the eye! Thats a huge amount of generosity and exactly the kind of thing the Church is supposed to be doing.

  8. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    Having one’s dad or older adult mentor teach him (or her) to shoot can be a peak life experience for a young kid. The sense of empowerment that can be derived from learning to shoot and then having your own gun is simply unbeatable. My dad taught me to shoot when I was about 8 or 9. I remember the day vividly. I didn’t know it at the time but I now realize that just how important that day was to me. There’s a ritual element to all this which is how the sense of personal empowerment is bestowed on someone. It’s something every kid needs and, all too few, ever experience. It’s not hard to tell who the adults are who never had those kinds of experiences. I still have the nickle I hit dead center with that old Remington .22.

  9. avatar Northern_Michigan says:

    This Libertarian father has been teaching his kids to shoot since they were 4 and 5. I’m always interested to see what people come up with to adapt a 22 LR to a child. My personal favorite is a Ruger Charger. The bipod means there is very little weight to balance and no stock length to deal with. This is important because short arms don’t work well with a rifle stock.

  10. avatar Someone says:

    Why do we always get reports of things that happened and no heads up before?
    -Buyback in Chicago was great!
    -Father – son camp was big success!
    If TTAG informed us ahead of time, some of us might have participated. I bet my 10 years old son would have love it. But then the lines would be even longer.

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