My Experience At Camp Hidden Lake by Camp Director Captain Good
As the Divisional Youth Secretary and camp director for the Salvation Army’s Camp Hidden Lake, I have had the incredible privilege of witnessing the transformative power of this camp firsthand. Nestled at the beginning of the Mississippi Delta, Camp Hidden Lake spans 400 acres of natural beauty. Established in 1984, this camp was created with the purpose of providing a haven for youth from across three states to simply be children.
My personal connection to The Salvation Army and Camp Hidden Lake runs deep. I grew up in poverty in the mountains of Virginia, raised by my teenage mother. My mother had a history with The Salvation Army, having been involved in their youth programs and summer camps as a child. When my parents found themselves in need, The Salvation Army welcomed us into their shelter and provided assistance. It was at the age of six that I attended camp for the first time, and from that moment until I turned 13, I was a camper myself.
For three of those years, I had the opportunity to attend The Salvation Army’s summer Conservatory, a six-week program that altered my life trajectory. At the age of 14, I was given the chance to work at the camp, initially tasked with cleaning tables in the dining room. Little did I know that this seemingly simple job would profoundly impact my life. The Salvation Army and Camp Hidden Lake saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself. Through the ministry of the camping program, I realized my calling to serve the Lord in a larger capacity, eventually leading me to become a Salvation Army Officer.
When you think of camp, images of tents, s’mores, campfires, and swimming pools may come to mind. And while Camp Hidden Lake does offer those classic camp activities, what truly sets us apart is our campers. Our children come from diverse backgrounds, representing various socioeconomic statuses and having endured profound hardships. Some have shouldered the responsibility of caring for their younger siblings at a young age, assuming adult roles prematurely. Camp Hidden Lake allows them to reclaim their childhood and experience the simple joys of being a carefree child.
“Camp Hidden Lake has a well-established leadership pipeline that begins with a camper’s first experience and continues throughout their journey. We introduce them to opportunities such as lifeguarding and running a ropes course as early as age 10 or 11. At around 14 or 15, they have the chance to work at our camp.”
I invite you to see Camp Hidden Lake through our eyes and to witness the incredible transformations that occur here each summer. Every evening, we gather all 200-plus children to sit and listen to the story of Jesus and His unconditional love for them. Imagine the impact of hearing about a man who loves them so deeply that He gave His life for them.
Picture a child burdened by the weight of their home life, finally finding freedom as they leap off a diving board for the first time. Envision a child who struggles academically to find success and joy at our STEAM Camp as they engage in science projects, build model rockets, and discover their own creative abilities. Perhaps most importantly, consider the child who has faced disappointment after disappointment, finally experiencing the thrill of catching a fish in our Hidden Lake.
At Camp Hidden Lake, we believe that camp has the power to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of our campers. It may seem unlikely, given that it’s just a one-week summer camp, but so many of our young people have realized that they are capable of so much more than their current circumstances. They discover their passions, their strengths, and their worth through the programs we offer.