Castle Bluff is a recreational, non-profit camp situated in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. Spanning 80 acres in Newton County, it is equipped with cabins, a large meeting room, an industrial kitchen, a mess hall for dining and a large new lodge.
Hiking, rappelling, rock wall climbing, and zip lining are some of the adventure activities available; you can also play Frisbee golf, basketball, gaga ball, or head inside to our game room. Also, the nearby Buffalo National River offers canoeing, swimming, lots of hiking trails and wildlife viewing.
History of The Bluff
In the late 1970s, groups of Arkansas teens began to camp with Young Life, and they began to overwhelm state parks with their numbers. Their leaders began to pray for a new low-cost camping option, a place to take large groups of students so that they could the story of Jesus and encounter God in the midst of His creation.
That prayer was answered in 1979 when land in Newton County, Arkansas, was donated to Young Life. At first the property served as a campground for groups of students, but in 1981 construction began on bathrooms and the camp got electricity.
The construction of Castle Bluff was an journey shared by the students in Young Life. A Camp for Kids Built by Kids was the motto at Castle Bluff in the 80’s. Shiloh Hall, the first major building which served as meeting room and bunkhouse, was built. Next, sleeping platforms were built into a large overhang beneath the main camp area, and the Bat Cave was born.
In the 90’s, new buildings were added, including the large kitchen / mess hall / meeting room known as the Cliffhanger. It has replaced Shiloh Hall as the camp meeting spot and quickly became the traditional place for campers of all ages to inscribe their names on the walls.
The next step for Castle Bluff was the huge blessing of its first onsite caretakers. Mickey and Jolie Hickelheim greatly improved Castle Bluff, bringing it into a new era of growth. Many different churches began to use the camp as a result of having full time hosts. Also, Mickey and Jolie were able to maintain and develop the camp all year long, and built a beautiful house that welcomes campers near the entrance to the camp. They have been a wonderful gift to the camp itself and to each of the caretakers since.
More recently, Greg and Dana Ingram have served as Castle Bluff’s caretakers. By living at the camp and investing in the surrounding community for 6 years, they earned the respect of Castle Bluff’s neighbors. Castle Bluff is now involved with the Newton County Food Bank, making the camp a positive force across the county. Greg and Dana also oversaw the construction of the Summit Lodge, a multi-use facility which can be used by all ages, all year long. It is designed to be used by men or women, couples or even whole families, making so many different kinds of retreats possible.
Currently, the Ingrams have moved back to civilization and God has graciously provided a new camp director. Paul Smith brings a love for what Castle Bluff has meant in his own life, and longs to see people venturing to a place where they can ‘love God and live free.’ By working with STEP Ministry at Jabali Ranch, Paul has gained an understanding of the power of camping in students’ lives. Jabali is just down the hill from Castle Bluff and Paul looks forward to his new role at Castle Bluff and insuring that these two camps will work together, allowing both to expand their camping ministries.