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The Pecos River Encampment sign, seen here in 2021, endured wear during two years of pandemic. The sign has since been repainted.
Photo by Erik Tryggestad

A week without cell service, immersed in God’s word

A Texas Christian camp resumes, allowing Christian families to disconnect and focus on God and each other.

SHEFFIELD, Texas — “Why would anyone want to come here?”

It’s a question organizers of the Pecos River Encampment have heard more than once.

Kids at the encampment learn about sheep and goats from the Good Shepherd, portrayed by James Willeford, director of church relations for Herald of Truth.

Kids at the encampment learn about sheep and goats from the Good Shepherd, portrayed by James Willeford, director of church relations for Herald of Truth.

Since 1944, Christian families — physical and spiritual — have gathered along a paltry stretch of the Pecos River in the West Texas desert. They play softball in 103-degree heat, take cold showers and eat mesquite-grilled cabrito (roasted goat).

They also spend a week immersed in Scripture, united in their desire to uphold biblical truth.

“Rustic” may be the best word to describe the camp — a hodgepodge of ramshackle shacks on property just north of Interstate 10. There’s no charge to attend — just a small insurance fee. Last year the Church of Christ in nearby Iraan, Texas, took oversight of the camp, which operates on donations and the sweat of members who install plumbing, repair broken benches and maintain the facility.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the encampment resumed this summer. About 200 people spent a week rekindling old friendships, making new friends, discussing Scripture, basking in the blessing of no cell phone service and feasting on barbecue and God’s word.

Kids squared off against adults in volleyball and softball, played in the West Texas heat. All ages made use of the camp’s giant slip-n-slide during “Water Day.” And the campers made their traditional trek up a nearby mountain for a devotional.

Speakers from across Texas discussed the “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John.

Garrett Morado grew up in Iraan and has fond memories of attending the camp. Now a student at Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, he returned to preach and to serve as a counselor.

“I think the best part of it all was just being able to get away from a chaotic world and just focus on who Jesus is and what he has done for us,” Morado said. “There’s no cell service out there, and it is pretty nice to be able to step away from everything.

Related: A camp of a different culture

It is a huge blessing to be able to be surrounded by so many like-minded Christians.

“I know there was a lot of work that went into making it all possible, and it definitely paid off. I am definitely looking forward to next year.”

Sheffield, TX, USA

J. HOLMSLEY is a member of the Iraan Church of Christ in Texas. Additional reporting by Erik Tryggestad.

For more information about the Pecos River Encampment, contact the church at (432) 639-2034 or see pecosriverencampment.com.

Filed under: Christian camp Iraan Church of Christ National News Pecos River Encampment post-pandemic Sunset International Bible Institute Top Stories West Texas

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