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Oakridge campers build teamwork, grow closer to God

ANADARKO - When the founders of Oakridge Christian Camp arrived at their new plot of land just outside of Anadarko 17 years ago, even they could not foresee the joy they would bring to so many on an annual basis in the years to come. 

"It's hard to believe it's been that long," said Jamie Ball, program director and daughter of the camp's founders. "Our oldest group has been coming here since 2006, so this makes their 12th year here. That's impressive to us."

The camp has continued to grow and spread across its property on U.S. 281. For many years, the camp was adding something new each year  culminating with the addition of the Goliath, a massive 40-foot high wooden structure that tasks campers with climbing, navigating ropes and ultimately riding a zipline the length of the camp property. Ball said the camp didn't make any major additions this past year, but instead focused on quality-of-life improvements by listening to what previous campers have suggested to make. 

"Each year we ask our campers to give us suggestions for what they think we could improve, or what needs to be changed," Ball said. "So we focused a lot on that this past year. We changed out a lot of the electrical wires and outlets. We improved the showers and the changing rooms in the girls' dorms."

The biggest change to Oakridge this year was the expansion of the camp's centerpiece worship chapel.

"The group that's here right now requested ahead of time that we expand the chapel because it just wasn't big enough for their large group," Ball said. "So we put a lot of attention into that and making it bigger and improving it."

Oakridge hosts thousands of campers each year  both families and groups from churches and organizations. Most take advantage of the camp's sprawling facilities that offer plenty of opportunities for fun and games for the extent of one's stay. Goliath is the eye catcher, but there are plenty of other activities offered, including human foosball, water balloon volleyball and even a cool dip in the pool on a hot summer day. Many of the activities, Ball said, are aimed at building trust and teamwork among individuals. Members of the 300 campers from Camp Y'Shua Lion and Lamb Ministries in Norman were focused on team building and having fun.

"It's really fun and I'm definitely enjoying myself," said Collin Gebo, visiting from Albuquerque, N.M. "Getting to meet a lot of new people and become friends with them is the best part of coming here."

Fellow camper Adam Silva watched on as Gebo mastered a rope walking exercise aimed at not only developing good balancing skills, but also placing trust in another person. He wasn't so fortunate when he tried to walk the nearby balancing beam. Silva, who's attended the camp before, said he's always enjoyed his time at Oakridge, though this will be his last visit.

"After this year, I'll be too old to come with this group, so I'm soaking it all in that I can," he said. "I want to make the most of it because I'm really going to miss this place."

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