Thursday, May 27, 2010

Maranatha Camp

The next attraction we visited has so much to offer that I decided it needed its very own blog post. Maranatha Camp is one of North Platte's hidden treasures. It hosts visitors from all over the United States and even from around the world, but very few in North Platte know it exists - or what it offers, although most recognize the sign.
Since our tour arrived at lunch time, we all gathered in the dining room for a short presentation before being served a delicious lunch. Seated at the tables were many of the volunteers and staff from Maranatha. It seems there are no short-timers at Maranatha. When you join the staff either as a paid employee or a volunteer, you love it so much you never leave! Both of the volunteers seated at our table had been coming back well over 20 years.
The spread they put on was fantastic. Although the camp isn't hosting campers for the summer yet, the meal they prepared was delicious. I asked one of the volunteers if this is what they get fed all of the time, and she admitted it was a little more than usual, but that the food there is always good, and I have to agree.
The Executive Director Daniel Harding has only been there since 2007, but some of my fellow travelers on the bus told the story that he had attended the camp as a youngster, and vowed to return, which he has!

The facilities are wonderful. This cozy room can be opened up from the main dining room and is large enough to accommodate a meeting with several hundred people.
From the Maranatha web page, we find their mission
Maranatha exists to glorify God by introducing people to Jesus as Savior, training them in Christian living and sending them out to represent Christ to the World. As a non-denominational, Christian camp, Maranatha is dedicated to giving people a chance to get away from their daily routines to quiet down, hear God speak and make life-changing decisions.

This is accomplished primarily through camps, such as youth weeks, adult retreats and sports camps, as well as discipleship training programs, such as the L3 program which consists of Learn, Live, and Lead. Notably, several former campers and staff have represented Christ in more than 50 nations.

With nearly 10,000 guests a year through camp programming and rental groups, Maranatha remains open year-round to accommodate all guests and to prepare for the summer peak season.

One of the ways they reach out to the local community is by opening up their facilities for special events. On many weekends throughout the fall, winter and spring, this gymnasium hosts open-skate and rock climbing on their 30-foot wall. There's equipment rentals and a snack bar.
This auditorium is the newest facility at Maranatha, and as you can see there's a few finishing touches being put on to it. It is gearing up to host their first event, a concert by the Christian a capella group Go Fish on Saturday night. This area will hold 700+ guests.
Adjacent to the auditorium is the Cedar Room, which overlooks the lake. The ceiling is made up of planking from the cedar trees that had to be removed to add the new auditorium. Pretty cool, huh?
Outside, the 30-acre lake is quiet now on this May afternoon, but soon it will be buzzing with the activity of some of the 10,000 campers Maranatha hosts each year.
Our group boarded the hayracks for a tour around the grounds.
Our first stop was the site of the Open Waterfront. Not only do the campers get to enjoy this wonderful facility, but it is open periodically during the summer to the entire community. It doesn't look like much now, but when everything is in place, there is a Blob at the bottom of the tower to jump off into, in the middle of the lake is The Rock, and the water slide is in full use. There's tubing and jet skiing a barbecue meal and the sweet shop - a 50's style soda fountain.

They even host a 4th of July celebration complete with picnic and fireworks.
Nestled throughout the trees are the many accommodations, which range from camping hookups, to dormitory style and motel style. Maranatha is available for a family get-away, reunion, corporate retreat or just about any event you would like to host there. They are very serious about their Christian heritage and will ask that you comply with their doctrine and include devotions in your event. If you have something coming up that this facility would be suitable for, I would encourage that you contact them and discuss the possibility. You'll be glad you did.
This is the amphitheater situated on the bank of a cove of the lake. It would be suitable for any group presentation event, and is quiet and peaceful.
Not too far away are the sand volleyball courts and the baseball/softball field.
And there are tennis courts.
And a nature trail that skirts the lake. The property includes more than 300 acres and is extremely well maintained, so I imagine you will get to see lots of wildlife on your visit. Some of the things that I didn't get pictures of are the paintball range and the sporting clays range. Maranatha also hosts regular events for these activities.
If you visit their website, you'll see a lot more beautiful photography than you have here, and there are a lot more details about the community events they host and the camping events available. You should definitely go there for more information.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on (probably at Maranatha, too!).

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