The seed of what would eventually become Camp WOW was planted in 1993 when our founder, John Lohman, attended Kanakuk Kamp as a sponsor for his son’s youth group. It was then that God started to move on John’s heart and impress upon him the vision of building a church camp. This began as John prayed a simple prayer while walking along at Kanakuk. John confessed to God that he would be completely happy if he could just pick up trash at a place like Kanakuk for the rest of his life. God took John’s willingness to be used and exploded his ideas into what is today Camp WOW.
After voicing his heart to God, John and his wife Terri began to discuss and dream about the possibilities of starting a camp. They would often travel through the countryside looking and imagining about the future. As God continued to bless the Lohman’s, they started to seriously consider properties which they might be able to use. Having looked at land throughout Oklahoma, they settled on a small acreage which they thought would work. God, however, had different plans.
On the day John was headed to sign a contract to purchase land to build a camp, his office phone rang. While John normally doesn’t answer his business’s phone, he happened to on this occasion. The person on the other end was a realtor who had a property he thought might be suited for a camp. After initially rebuffing the idea, John eventually agreed to go see the land. To his surprise, John arrived at a vast acreage which was perfect for a church camp. For only a fraction more than the land the Lohmans were planning on purchasing, they were able to buy land which was dramatically larger and better suited for a camp. In fact, the entire acreage of the first property could fit within the boundaries of just the lake on the second. God truly displayed His majesty in shaping man’s vision and transforming it into His!
Once the land for camp had been purchased, the next step was to get it ready for campers. An intensive building project was begun and soon the cafeteria and maintenance building were complete. Soon after, basketball courts, the party barn, lodge, and dorms 1 and 2 were built. During this time, a three-sided Rock Wall and Zip line were built and modifications were made to the waterfront to allow for swimmers. In 2007, the most recent building, the Worship Center, was completed, adding a dedicated worship facility and 4 more dorms, a large meeting room, staff housing, and a new game room, while also expanding Camp WOW’s capacity to over 800 people. In all of this, the aim was to provide an exciting location where students could have fun, but ultimately learn about Christ and be challenged by the Word of God.
As the years have passed, there have been thousands of students and leaders who have been transformed while at Camp WOW. These men and women have heard the gospel preached and been called to a life of commitment to their Savior. We are amazed every year to witness approximately 10% of those who come to camp enter into an eternal relationship with Jesus Christ. There are numerous others who surrender their lives to ministry, rededicate their walk with God, or commit to living differently as followers of Jesus.
Since 2001, Camp WOW has been a place for people to encounter their Creator in a meaningful and lasting way. It is awe-inspiring to think of how God took one man’s willingness to be used and allowed him to found a camp which has ministered to so many. In each step along the way, you can see God’s hand as He takes the ideas of man and transforms them into something that can only come from Him. What a joy to be a part of His work and to watch Him do mighty things!