Nestled deep within central Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains lies a series of three summits — Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill — known collectively as the Peaks of Otter. It is within this rugged mountain terrain where Indians and early settlers once journeyed that a diverse gathering of teens will be experiencing an unrivaled joy-ride of a camping experience this summer at Thomas Road Outpost (TRO).
“This is our inaugural summer for hosting campers,” says Jim Rebsamen, who is directing the TRO project. Jim tells us that the summer will be packed with middle school and high school kids who will experience some amazing thrills and adventures, while also learning about the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
“We will have a large assortment of kids,” says Jim. The camp launches by welcoming two separate weeks of Thomas Road Baptist Church campers, about 80 of them each week. Afterwards, the camp will welcome week-long visits by hundreds of urban youngsters from Lynchburg and Roanoke, Virginia.
“Most of these kids have never been to these kinds of mountains, so we love to get them out of their comfort zones,” Jim says. High adventure activities at TRO include: ziplines; a massive climbing tower known as “the vertical playpen”; a heart-pumping “pamper pole”; and a 40 foot high, three-person mountain swing. More traditional activities also abound, including: paddle boarding; boating; fishing; swimming; and nature hiking.
“It’s all really exciting stuff,” Jim says. And it all serves as a foundation for introducing young people to the Lord Jesus. In the evenings, kids experience worship services while later breaking off into small groups to discuss life, hopes and dreams and how God needs to be at the core of all we do.
Jim tells us his team has been extensively trained not only to supervise the wild rides and mountain adventures (they are all certified lifeguards, as well), but to also share their personal testimonies and to convey the Gospel message with young people who may have never heard about Jesus.
The camp setting is different than church, Jim says, and he believes the community experience can lead kids to open up about their struggles and burdens. This, he says, allows counselors to personally communicate the Gospel with them and to show how a relationship with Jesus Christ is the way to redemption and the fullness of life.
“We show them how Jesus can step into these parts of their lives that are hurting,” says Jim.
Jonathan Falwell, who has been greatly involved with getting Thomas Road Outpost running says he is excited to see the lives of many young people changed this summer. “My hope is that many teens will give their hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ through this ministry.