Shocco Springs’ summer season in full swing despite economic pinchcomment (0)
June 14, 2012
By Anna Keller
Since the turn of the 20th century Alabama Baptists have been using the land that is now Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center as a restful place for meetings and worship.
Located near Talladega, Shocco’s property serves as an ideal place for Christian and nonprofit groups to hold events such as Bible conferences, youth camps and leadership training retreats.
Though they are open year-round, summertime is by far Shocco’s busiest season, and the camp is typically booked with back-to-back youth and children’s camps and adult retreats.
“About 60 percent of all our business comes during the summer,” said Buster Taylor, Shocco’s executive director. But this year’s bookings are not quite as tight and some space remains available for summer and fall, he noted.
“During this recession and following the massive tornadoes of last year, we have heard from many churches that budgets are tight and camp funds are a challenge,” Taylor said. “However God has taken care of our needs even in these difficult times, and we do see positive signs of growth in the economy.”
And with the Alabama Legislature’s recent decision to lengthen the summer break for schools by as much as three weeks, there are now even more opportunities for retreats at Shocco this year.
“Our goal is to provide a distinctly Christian environment for renewal for all groups that come to Shocco,” Taylor said, noting groups planning last-minute events this summer should consider Shocco.
One of Shocco Springs’ own employees is a testament to its powerful influence.
Wendy Westerhouse, Shocco’s sales and marketing associate, has fond memories of attending Girls in Action camps at Shocco as a child. It was those mountaintop experiences, she says, that eventually led her to feel called to pursue a career in Christian camp ministry. After finishing seminary Westerhouse was asked to fill a position at Shocco, and she’s been there ever since.
“I could see how much God works in a camp environment and how we listen differently,” Westerhouse said. “Being in nature — like here at Shocco — He speaks to us and we listen better.”
Nick Murray, the ministry event director for Student Life, agrees that there’s something very special about Shocco Springs. As someone who helps plan for camps at 30 locations across the U.S., he knows what he’s talking about.
“We chose Shocco as the meeting place for our Student Life leadership training week each year, and this place is holy ground to us,” Murray said. “It’s one of the calmest locations we know, and you can just go into total retreat-mode and be with the Lord.”
It is impossible to pinpoint one trait that makes Shocco Springs so distinctive, Westerhouse said. Instead several components — the grounds, the nature, the fellowship, the music, the food, the recreation opportunities and more — all come together to create what she calls “The Shocco Experience.”
Vital to this experience is the Shocco Springs staff, who handle the behind-the-scenes tasks and allow camp leaders to focus on the logistics surrounding the event itself.
“We view ourselves as being partners to each group that comes to Shocco,” Westerhouse said.
“We partner with churches and ministries so God can work through them, and we want to help each group accomplish its goals for its Shocco event.”
For more information or to book an event, visit www.shocco.org.
(Jennifer Davis Rash contributed)