We recently had the privilege of hosting our fourth Farm Camp, and the thing I can confidently say about camp is that every one is different! Flexibility is essential at Farm Camp. It's always exciting to plan and prepare, coordinate and collaborate, but you never know what's actually going to develop until you live it out. Each Farm Camp has its own unique set of opportunities, logistics, and dynamics.
Dallas Farm Camp: We're Off to Arkansas
On April 27th, we collected students from different schools throughout West Dallas and North Dallas to load into a 15 passenger van and travel to our farmhouse in southeast Arkansas. After a 6 hour journey, we arrived just after dark, enjoyed a healthy snack, and settled into our rooms. Introductions were made. Ground rules were set. And we were ready to enjoy the weekend together.
Health and Wellness
Dennis Kelly joined us as our guest speaker and health expert. With his vast experience of training athletes in physical development and nutritional wisdom, Dennis was a terrific fit for imparting simple, accessible health truths to our campers. Throughout the weekend, he shared a series of health-focused lessons teaching basic facts about how food affects our bodies, the benefits of regular physical movement and the value of living intentionally. The students engaged with his lessons and thoroughly enjoyed his companionship as they explored the outdoor activities. What an honor to have him as part of our team!
I learn something new at every Farm Camp. The field of agriculture is deep and rich and extensive, and every facet has its intricacies. Our gratitude is great for our partners at the University of Arkansas Ag Extension Department who supply us with an endless range of learning opportunities. Jason Davis hauled his traveling classroom four hours to give us the experience of an outdoor learning center in which he led us through a fascinating lesson on the use of GPS in agriculture. He began with an advanced mathematical formula and ended up with a spray simulator that works like a video game. And yes, it is all directly related to ag! Jason gave our campers a vision to pursue their education and prepare for the many career opportunities that ag offers. Experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math are all in demand for modern famers to continue safely feeding our world's growing population, and Jason inspired the next generation to be ready to take on the challenge.
A Community Affair
One of my favorite parts about Farm Camp is the beautiful blend of folks who find their way to the farmhouse. Lunch on Friday served as the platform for a community gathering as we opened our doors and enjoyed a cookout graciously sponsored by Rabo Agri Finance. Local farmers, regional salesmen and national bankers descended upon our little farmhouse to share a meal with our student campers, nurturing leaders and committed volunteers. A wide variety of ages, careers, cultures, and backgrounds were represented as we gathered around to meet and learn together. How exciting to discover commonalities in the midst of deep diversity!
BBQ and Airplanes
Aerial Applicators take risks in their job every day. Most of the risks involve flying long hours over acres of crops staying intensely focused on instrument readings and multiple gauges. But some times the risks look like hosting a group of 30 students and leaders from Dallas for lunch in their hangar! David Glover of Precision Air and Timber graciously welcomed us to his airplane hangar and served us a delicious BBQ lunch while we learned about his fascinating craft. Ryan Simmons joined David as these men explained the strict federal safety regulations required for aerial farming. We also learned about the speed of the aircraft, the weight it can carry, and the acreage it can cover. Our time ended with a closeup look at the plane and a peak inside the cockpit. What an enriching experience to Farm Camp!
Invest In Your Community
Greg Jones is a leader who is courageous and faithful, committed and fearless. He serves as the Outreach Minister at West Dallas Community Church and took on the challenge of bringing his Middle School students to Farm Camp. With his deep belief that the youth in his community desperately needed to experience the freedom and peace found in wide open spaces, he led them to our farm to receive the seeds planted in their hearts that could change the trajectory of their lives. Greg saw the opportunity for the future of his neighborhood to be improved by showing these kids where their food is grown and learning how their bodies were designed to respond to it. My respect for this kind gentleman knows no end.
Here Comes Summer!
As we look to our Summer Farm Camps with great anticipation, we wait expectantly to see how things will unfold. But there is one thing we already know: it's going to be a tremendous time together as we learn to sustain ourselves and the environment!