Camp Thurman must have been God’s plan and not man’s, because when Iva and Thurman Roxburgh offered their land as an area for recreation and training for youth of their church – Pantego Bible Church – they had no idea just how many lives and ministries that decision would affect. In 1969, Dale Boyles, PBC’s first director of Christian Education, began the camp as a 2-week program serving 25 boys and girls each session. With Becky Hughes as Director, the camp soon expanded to 4 weeks. Activities were held at the church, Roxburgh’s land, and the nearby Lucas Pool.
A major improvement came in 1974 when the Roxburghs generously provided a wooded campsite just minutes from PBC. In 1975 a pool was built on the Roxburgh’s property for Day Camp use. Bob Choun followed Dale Boyles as DCE and expanded the program to 8 weeks, serving 60 children each session. Other directors have included Jerry Bain, Neil Wood, Scott Freeman, Karen Almond, and Jim Rose. In 2014 the camp came under the leadership of Blake Bowman.
Pantego Bible Church
Bob Choun passed the baton of leadership to Steve Briggs, who added special programs including computer training at Boot Camp conducted by Glenda Keilstrup and a Sunshine Days session for younger children. Under the leadership of Jim Word, the camp instituted the accreditation process. A bike trail and ropes course were added to provide new activities without compromising the natural setting. In 1992, again under the leadership of Becky Hughes, the camp continued its ministry to the community.
As the summer of ’93 began, the FAIC Non-Profit Foundation took over ownership of the camp. By fall the new name became Pantego Camp Thurman in honor of Thurman Roxburgh, who died in 1988. The administration of the camp, as well as the daily operation, came under the leadership of Jim Rose with accountability to the Board of Directors: Bill Sweaney, Sam Meserve, Becky Hughes, Vince Puente, Larry Bowman, Iva Roxburgh, and Rollie Jones. Board members Mark Topel, Rich Lowe, and John Phipps were added in 1994; Bill Jordan in 1998. In 1999 Brad Cecil was added to fill the position left vacant when our beloved Sam Meserve died. In 2007 two new board members were added, Craig Prather and Blake Bowman, and in 2008 John Blesi and Brent Jones joined. By 2013 several of the board members had retired and two more were added so that the current board members include Brent Jones, president; John Blesi, secretary; Mark Topel, treasurer; Ralph McPherson, vice president; Rollie Jones, Rich Lowe, Craig Prather, Rachel Richter, and Jack Chambers. Iva Roxburgh, who still lives on the property just north of the campgrounds, continues to serve as a non-voting member of the board and provides an ever-present connection with Camp Thurman’s beginnings.
During the summers of 1995 and 1996 the camp’s enrollment increased from 900 to 1500 campers per season. In 1997, restroom/dressing rooms, an onsite camp office, a ropes challenge course, and a new entrance off of Pioneer Parkway were added, with enrollment now reaching 3000. In 1999, a second activity pool and a second, larger climbing wall were constructed. The year 2000 brought the addition of a 300 foot long zipline and a 35 foot high power pole. And then in 2001 the zipline was extended to four lines and 9 new low elements were constructed to add an effective challenge course to our activities. 2002-2004 saw the addition of a third pool, a team wall, the K-Klimb (cargo net climb), and several new activities for the younger campers – including the minizip and the water wagon. In 2005 we added the K-Klimb Zipline and the CCD deck. In 2012 The Rock swimming pool was added to accommodate the exploding afternoon/evening camps. The total summer enrollment, with both day and evening programs, is now is over 6000; yet, the camp still maintains the wooded seclusion the campers enjoy so much. Our CT Challenge Adventures program partners with schools, sports teams, corporate businesses, and other local organizations to reach another 3000 to 4000 participants in the non-summer season.
It’s hard to mention Camp Thurman in any community setting without someone remembering their involvement as camper, counselor, parent, or friend. Many of the current staff began their involvement with the camp as young children. Some of the counselors of the past years have gone into full-time Christian service with gratitude for the blessings of past years and trust in God for the future that the ministry of Pantego Camp Thurman will continue to serve His children. To this day, more and more previous campers, those who became staff and those who didn’t, bring their own children to the camp, creating a special group of second generation CT campers. And God’s blessings continue!