Written by Holland Chapek and Tiane Davis.
Harding University’s Camp Tahkodah has been a spiritual growth experience for many people who have grown up in the Searcy, Arkansas, area. The camp, owned and operated by the University, runs on faith, fun and friendship. For many years now, kids starting at the age of 8 have been able to experience Camp Tahkodah and learn about God.
“I’ve been at Camp Tahkodah for [over 20] years now, so I definitely like to think it has had one of the biggest impacts in shaping who I am as a person,” junior Jordan Ashmore, who has been a counselor at Camp Tahkodah for four years, said. “I have gotten to grow up around some of the best Christian mentors — including adult staff and counselors — out there who have poured themselves into me for years.”
Ashmore said the camp has helped him grow in many aspects of life.
“I was taught the basics from a young age, and as I got older, I was taught what it takes to be not only a good person but also a good Christian,” Ashmore said. “I got to have deeper conversations with my counselors about how to incorporate my faith into my daily life.”
The camp, founded in 1931, has become a great place for people to grow and an opportunity to spread the word of God.
“Camp just meant the world to me, and it was my favorite part of the year,” junior Layne Pace, who has been a Tahkodah camper and counselor, said. “It was the place where I met the Lord and became the woman I am today.”
Pace said that the roles of both camper and counselor hold significance and taught her in different ways.
“As I went from camper to counselor, I began to gain a new perspective,” Pace said. “I started to see Camp Tahkodah as a mission field and a beautiful opportunity to be an example [in] kids’ lives who are just learning who Jesus really is. To have the opportunity to serve them is so cool and beautiful. I get to have the opportunity to have young girls look up to me, like I still look up to my counselors today, because of how they changed my life. Tahkodah is a great way to get to experience God personally and also share him with other campers.”
The camp is located in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, which allows for a quiet campsite to enjoy daily Bible classes and activities. Tahkodah still stands with the same mission of faith that it started with when becoming a part of the University.
“One of my favorite things about Tahkodah is its ability to remain constant,” Ashmore said. “That’s also one of my favorite things about Jesus: Jesus is timeless. He does not change with time. Camp Tahkodah has a similar quality. We like to use the word ‘disconnect’ out there because there are no phones. We get to unplug from the problems and distractions of the world and focus on our relationship with Jesus and our relationship with others.”
Camp Tahkodah’s “no phones” rule is something that a lot of its campers look forward to every year.
“I’m excited to go back this year and get back into not having my phone, and being around people and just being present,” freshman Nora Vaughn, who has attended Camp Tahkodah for nearly ten years and will be a counselor this summer, said. “There’s a lot of freedom at Tahkodah to spend time with people.”
Camp Tahkodah has also been a place where campers can meet Harding students and get plugged into the University at a young age.
“My favorite thing about camp Tahkodah is 100% the people,” Vaughn said. “If I didn’t have Camp Tahkodah in my life or the people from Camp Tahkodah, I wouldn’t be here. That’s the reason I came to Harding; that’s the reason I devoted myself to God.”
Camp Tahkodah was not open for summer 2020, but they hope to have the cabins back open by this summer in 2021 to continue their mission.