camp tanako

By Melinda Shunk

Children's Ministry Coordinator

Where did Jesus teach his disciples? The majority of Jesus’ teachings were outside. Along the lake, on a hilltop, on a dirt trail were the locations of ministry that Jesus chose. Still today, the Holy Spirit works best outside and in nature. Camping ministry is the corner foundation for faith formation in children. It allows a child to be away from the everyday life distractions and places them in peaceful locations surrounded by new friends, beautiful worship, silly songs, caring young adults, outdoor adventures, Bible study, and a small taste of independence.

Camp Tanako is a blessing to the Children’s Ministry in Arkansas because they specialize in elementary-age camping ministry most of the summer. Don’t get me wrong, they have some excellent MAD camp, junior high and high school theme weeks for older kids, but most weeks are designed with your child in mind. The camp also has a short three-night Discovery Camp for first-time kids that are not sure they are ready for a whole week away from home. Tanako is nestled right in Hot Springs, which has plenty of fun things for parents to do if they stay in town while their children try out the three-night option.

tanako overnight

Kayla Hardage is the new camp director, and “Thanks to COVID-19,” she has had an entire year to plan and prepare for your child to come for a week of camp. There are new boats in the lake, 9 square, GaGa ball pits, a renewed mini-golf course, great creative art spaces, mountain bike trails, a well-staffed swimming pool, and a ropes course for those up for a sky-high adventure. There is also a new education director, Matthew Gwinner, who has years of camping ministry experience to share around a s’mores-filled campfire. Kayla and Matthew will be training their staff not only for their summer ministry positions but also for controlling the spread of COVID-19. They have several layers of precautions in place, including mask-wearing and spaced-out bunk beds in large cabins. They will follow all CDC guidelines for a safe summer camping experience.

It is not too late to plan a fun-filled faith formation week for your child. Click on the link to check out their new, updated website and the weeks of camps available. Please also check with your church administration; many times, funds are left by members to finance a child’s experience at camp. If your church doesn’t have a camping scholarship fund, talk to Kayla today, by emailing her at, on the ways you can quickly create a camping scholarship fund.