In everything we do at Ridgecrest Summer Camps, the focus is to foster, build and strengthen relationships. We build relationships with staff, campers and their families. We create memories and an environment that fosters deepening relationships. But ultimately, everything we do is rooted in and points others toward a relationship with their Creator. In essence, the message we share is: “Follow me as I follow Jesus.”
Create Purposeful Experiences
When campers exit our gates, they go home different than when they arrive. The experience we create is unique from other ministries or camps and rich in tradition and history in a way that invites them into a family. We go the extra mile to set up our counselors to be heroes in the eyes of the campers they lead, so they build relationships and bonds that set the stage for conversations and life change.
Whether it be our traditional summer program, weekend family camps, or through online discipleship programs, we serve large numbers of campers and families at a time. With the size and scope of our ministry, it can be easy to focus on the masses or groups of people, but we intentionally keep our focus on each individual camper who comes through our gates. Each camper has a story with individual needs, burdens and dreams. It’s our job, through building relationships, to enter into that story and meet them where they are. And lastly, we serve the One who is the author of our story, creator of this place, and owner of this ministry. The hope of the gospel compels us to show up, keep going, and persevere on our challenging days.
Make It Better
Our camps are rich in tradition and history. While we hold onto many games, stories and programs that have impacted lives for generations, we are unafraid to adapt and evolve to make things better or reach campers in a new or different way. Traditions are a great thing, but we don’t continue things just for “tradition’s sake”. We constantly ask “why” and sharpen our program, ministry and property so that we can reach campers with the gospel better this year than we did last year and better next year than this year.
What Makes Us Unique
With a mission that reaches back to the 1950s, Camp Crestridge for Girls has been investing in the next generation of women. We have seen three generations of the same family attend Camp Crestridge. Our full time Camp Director Team has well over 100 years of leadership in the camping industry and we are committed to offering a place where your daughter feels safe, where she stretches herself to try things she can't experience anywhere else, and where she encounters the God that created her, all in one day. Your daughter's two week adventure at Camp Crestridge will be a cornerstone of her faith, as well as her character, and it will change her forever.
The strength of our camp comes from God being placed first in all that we do, a strong sense of tradition, a mindset focused on safety, and the development of an unbelievably fun environment. Camp is focused on individual attention and building one-on-one relationships. We pull these components together to deliver a camp experience unlike any other.
Why A Girls' Camp?
We believe strongly in running two separate camps, one serving boys and one serving girls. This single-gender approach has numerous benefits for the type of Christian camping experience we want to provide. While simply letting girls be girls is quite important to us, we see benefits that extend beyond this axiom. At a girl's camp, the desire to impress males and to continue the lifestyle they know at home (for most) in a co-ed school is diminished. Our girls are more free to be themselves, to get dirty, to have fun, and to understand more clearly that God made them in His image and that He made them girls for a reason.
Boys and girls are not the same. In a single-gender camp, girls can pursue their interests without additional pressure in front of male peers. A girls' camp develops a girl's uniqueness and individuality. Counselors at a girls' camp can teach effectively in ways which reach girls and cater to their learning style.
We also know that boys and girls grow up at different rates. At camp, girls are able to grow at a pace that is appropriate for them. Our counselors seek positive relationships that are focused on the individual. For our girls to know they can be themselves and be loved is a strong reassurance as they adjust to camp life.
Our camps are founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ and our staff seek to show the love, grace, and truth of Him in all that they do. Kids can plainly see that actions speak louder than words. We hope that the lives of our staff will reflect God in such a way that the lives of their campers would be transformed. We call this Discipleship.
We want each camper that comes through our gates to know that they are loved unconditionally. This is our desire because this is how God loves us. He loved us first, and continues to love us despite all of our imperfections. We want our campers to know that God has created each of them as individuals, with different gifts and traits that only they possess. Above all, we want our campers to leave camp understanding God more, with a simple knowledge of how to grow in a relationship with the God that created her.
We do this in a variety of ways. Beyond the environment fostered here at camp, which nurtures growth in Christ, we have put in place many events and activities that help campers see Christ in a brand new way. Exciting Campfires, enthusiastic Chapel times, powerful Worship, rich Quiet Times, and relational evening Devotions all help strengthen our campers to be more in tune with Christ and their relationship with Him. These activities are designed with each specific age group in mind, geared to break through the clutter of our lives so that they can see the clarity of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Plus campers get to experience all of this while having the time of their lives surrounded by caring adults who love them no matter how they respond! Read more here:
About Our Staff
We believe that our staff are the most integral part in the development of our campers. This is why we go to great lengths to find the best staff around. We are quite selective in our search process and hold high standards for our employees. It is the staff we hire that will be on the frontlines each day interacting with our campers. It is this group of upstanding Christian role models that we seek to share not only Christ, but their lives as well (1 Thessalonians 2:8). It is our staff that go the extra mile, taking time to take a walk with them when they need a friend, being exceptionally patient in teaching a new skill, ensuring that each camper feels known.
We understand that this is a lot to ask of anyone, much less our college-aged staff. Many of our staff care for children throughout the year in various capacities. Many have competed in college-level sports and activities. Many have even grown up at camp, now desiring to give back a little portion of what camp has given them. But all of them come with one united goal, to help campers build their relationship with God in a safe, fun-filled environment.
Learn more about how we screen our staff.
As early as 1926 an attempt was made to establish a girls' camp under the supervision of the Baptist Education Board. Camp Star Note, the girls' portion of Camp Swannanoa, only operated in the summer of 1926 and 1927. Other brief attempts at short summer sessions were made, but none were successful enough to continue the operation. These efforts, however, were enough to keep alive the hope and dream that one day a camp for girls similar to Camp Ridgecrest for Boys would become a reality. In 1950, those dreams began to take the form of concrete actions to establish such a camp.
T.L. Holcomb, executive secretary of the Sunday School Board, received a $25 check designated for a girls' camp. Holcomb planted that seed money immediately, and growth began with the formation of a committee to study the matter and select a site. Holcomb led the Board to allocate $100,000 for 1953 and $50,000 for 1954 to begin the development of a girls' camp.
The director of Camp Ridgecrest for Boys strongly supported the effort for a girls' camp. The success of Camp Ridgecrest and dedication of the directors built a strong base for the girl's camp. Many of the programming concepts and administrative techniques developed in the boys' camp were shared with the girls' camp to make its beginning much easier. It was suggested that the name of the boys' camp with the syllables reversed be used as a name for the girls' camp, and Camp Crestridge for Girls was born.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were conducted on August 4, 1954. Heavy rains in the area forced the ceremony indoors. James L. Sullivan, the new executive secretary of the Sunday School Board, broke ground in a bucket of dirt. Construction started the next month, with the camp opening for the summer of 1955.
As early as 1952, Willard Weeks, manager of Ridgecrest Baptist Assembly, began the search for a director of Camp Crestridge. The same high quality director and staff demanded at Ridgecrest were required for Crestridge. Pickering aided Weeks in the search and was the first to meet Miss Arvine Bell, the one who would direct the camp for almost 25 years. Arvine Bell was selected as the person who could make Camp Crestridge the camp everyone wanted. She began her work in 1954. The camp, its development, staff, and hundreds of young women who have attended Crestridge all stand as testimonies to the effectiveness of her ministry.
Crestridge opened for its first session on June 6, 1955. The first meeting was held in a combination dining hall and gymnasium. All of the facilities were not complete, and the staff and campers had to spend the first few nights at Ridgecrest. They also walked back and forth to the Conference Center for meals. The camp was set up based on the model Pickering had established at Camp Ridgecrest for Boys with two five-week sessions. Fifty girls attended the first session and 92 participated in the second session. Susan Harrell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.A. Harrell, was the first to enroll.
Johnnie Armstrong, a charter staff member enlisted by Miss Bell for the very first session, continued on staff for most of Crestridge's history. Johnnie was land sports director in 1955, program director in 1956, and was named Assistant Camp Director in 1957. When Arvine Bell resigned in 1979 to become principal of a Christian school in Florida, Johnnie Armstrong was named Summer Director. After her tenure as Summer Director, she continued to return to camp for a couple weeks each summer, leading campfires and helping around camp. Camp Crestridge continues to challenge girls to grow in their physical, mental, social, and spiritual life in every aspect of camp. The Crestridge motto states "With my feet on the ground and my heart attune, I shall reach for the stars".
*Historical information obtained from Ridgecrest: Mountain of Faith by Kenneth McAnear.