Summer camp is one of the best-loved and most impactful Salvation Army ministries in Texas. Thousands of children look forward to spending a week at Camp Hoblitzelle each summer but unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused summer camp and year-round group rentals to be cancelled for more than a year. However, some unique and exciting opportunities have come about at Camp Hoblitzelle.
Picture three-thousand men, women and children all coming to hear Jesus preach the Sermon on the Mount, in freezing temperatures on a February day at Camp Hoblitzelle! That’s exactly what happened when The Chosen, the first multi-season app-based television series about the life of Christ, shot this amazing scene on their production facility at Camp Hoblitzelle.
In 2020 the production team were searching for suitable locations to shoot the show in and around the DFW area and made a chance visit to Camp Hoblitzelle. They quickly decided the camp landscape and facilities were perfect for their needs and for several months, The Chosen, created by Dallas Jenkins and distributed by Angel Studios, has been renting a section of the camp property for filming and production. The show is the highest crowd-funded project of all-time and has been translated into more than 50 languages.
“We are all incredibly proud of The Chosen,” said producer, Chad Gundersen. “To be able to bring this story to life in this way has in many ways been miraculous. Support for the show has continued to pour in from all over the world since the season one debut, and we can’t wait to release season two later this year. This Sermon on the Mount, shot at Camp Hoblitzelle, is going to be the highlight of the new season and the most incredible retelling of that event in television history.”
Plans are in place to shoot future seasons of The Chosen at Camp Hoblitzelle.
While the gates of camp temporarily closed to overnight and weekend rental groups, an opportunity presented itself to partner with local homeschool co-ops. Family Education Days (FED), Sunflower Nature Co-op and Ellis County Christian Homeschool Co-op (ECCHO) all currently meet at Camp Hoblitzelle, utilizing classroom space and outdoor activities three days each week. Certified teachers lead K-12 classes in the Mabee Music Conservatory building and students participate in afternoon outdoor education tracks led by Camp Hoblitzelle staff.
The program team developed a creative, 14-week outdoor curriculum including the following tracks: Taking Aim, Project Wild, Adventure Experience, Sports Exploration, Adventure Experience and Artistic Expression. Students experience all the facilities of camp like archery, camping, hiking, ropes course and challenge tower, canoeing, and more. An Equestrian track was offered in the spring semester where Equestrian Professional Missy Halbert taught skills needed to learn wrangling, horse and cattle care, as well as other important equine and riding skills.
“Such a fun and unique way to get my children outside and active,” said a parent with the Family Education Day. “The Camp Hoblitzelle tracks are amazing!”
As the program developed, parents and students requested choir and theater classes. Program Coordinator Katelyn Ljungholm, who has a Musical Theater degree, now teaches three electives – Elementary Musical Theatre (K-5), Theatre (6th-12th grade) and Choir (6th- 12th grade).