How Do You Explain Trossachs?

When I was asked  to give my testimony at our family camp’s annual fund-raiser last spring,
I asked the kids what I should talk about.
They all had ideas, and we shared lots of stories and memories of what Trossachs meant to the Smith family.

Then my daughter Summer piped up and said, “Mom, how do you explain Trossachs? 
Trossachs made us”

The girl had nailed it.
Three words, summed up  Trossachs,

“ It made us”

When I look back , every area of breakthrough and growth in my family has  had roots at Trossachs Gospel Camp.

My very first Trossachs experience was  in 93.
My oldest daughter, Shastan, was 2;  just the right height to bang her head on all the corners of the tables in the dining hall.
I was a new believer in Christ, and had never been to a camp of any sort.

But now, I had found myself out in the middle of  nowhere, with this very busy baby girl.

I had packed completely  totally wrong;
with one sleeping bag, forgotten my pillow, no sheets, even worse… no heater.

My abode for the week… the wee-ist little match-stick  house of a cabin.


My first Trossachs experience was the year it rained, and rained and rained.

The year of….. “the flood”.

When the water in the crick behind the camp rose, the camp sank.

The water was half way up my shin. 
People waded everywhere to get anywhere.
Those who wished to leave, were paddled out of the camp to the parking lot.

But those who hungered and thirsted for the hope of something more, stayed.

I stayed.

So there we were.
Baby and I.
In this itsy bitsy cabin,

Cabin 28..

in the rain.
No rainboots, rain coat, no heat….

I would miss most of the evening services that week because baby would be asleep by 7 and first time mommies never leave the side of their first time babies!

oh… which reminds me..

the one other thing I didn’t pack….
a lamp

So there I sat in the dark, in the cold, in the rain at Trossachs Gospel camp.


If that wasn’t bad enough, I had also decided that, that was the week I was going to quit smoking…

Yup.. I had given my life to Jesus, and I was letting it all go!
Far away from any store and temptation, what a golden opportunity to wean  my horrible habit.

Surely, I would come home from this place a new and improved Jo.
So, there  I was in the dark, in the cold in the rain, with out any cigarettes at Trossachs camp.

Heaven on earth was not the scripture coming  mind.


There I sat in the night in the cold , in the dark, in that crikey little cabin by myself.

Wondering what in the world I was doing there….

Do you know what happened?

I had a very real encounter with the very real God.
He filled that little room with His great big presence, and I found myself face to face with the created of the universe, the lover of my soul.

And  that was it.
I was hooked on Trossachs camp and for the past 17 plus  years we’ve been doing the 4 hour drive from Manitoba, to Weyburn, Saskatchewan to meet with a very real living God.


It is absolutely true.
Being a single mom of 2 girls, one boy….there has been more then enough challenges.
No not challenges, chaos….

Absolute utter chaos reigned in our family.
There were many immensely trying times.
Stretched beyond our natural strength,  all we could do was to hang on the next 51 weeks to get back to Trossachs the next summer.

Broken and battered, desperate for God to meet us, I probably came to camp and cried for a solid week for the first 13 years.

But no matter how absolutely critical the situation in our home seemed, no matter how devilish things had gotten, or how desperate ….  I heard myself saying over and over, in my heart….


If I could just get my kids to Trosachs, God would touch them, God would do something.

If we could get there, God would move again.
He is faithful beyond imagination and  in this was our hope.

It pulled me thru  many winters and springs.
Summer was coming.
Camp was coming, and I knew that I knew that I knew… God would meet us and God would change us.


And He did.

There is a supernatural sense of peace when you come down that lane to Trossachs camp.
Once we passed that gate,
I just knew everything was going to be alright.

It wouldn’t  matter if I got my kids into Chapel.

God faithfully would hunt them down and touch them on the grounds, in the booth, in the shower, it didn’t matter,
God just did.

Overly and abundantly.

We never ever left Trossachs the same as when we drove in.


When I look at the shambles our family was in for so many years, and I look at all that He has restored to me, how could I not serve him with everything  within me?

Trossach was the vessel.
It was all we had. But it was all He needed.

I never want to sound irreverent, but when people ask about Trossachs I  tell them it is magical.
Holy Ghost magic takes place there.

Every year, we felt the pressure from opposition.

We creeped our way through sheets of rain and hail.
Like Jesus rebuking the waves, we spoke against reports of  tornadoes on our travels.
We agreed in prayer over many vehicle breakdowns.

It became a running joke in our family.
What new tactic would Satan try this year to halt the “Smith Exodus” to camp?

But every year, God got us there safe and sound.
And every year God did the unbelievable in our hearts.


Now this is the  place I want to get you to.
If you’ve read this far, I need you to hear this…

As powerful as Trossachs has been for us, I would be in great error  if I was to tell you it was the camp’s doing.

For Trossach Gospel Camp will always only be a piece of soil.
Damp, cold, lifeless….

But absolutely everything that ever happened to us there, was intelligently crafted by the loving hands of the one who took that lifeless soil and transformed it into His garden.

The Lord Jesus Christ.

In that old sanctuary, the seed of His living word was sown and took root in our lives.
The rain of His spirit, became a healing flood.
His  grace and mercy, was a wind across our family that blew away the dirt and stain  and brought a fresh fragrance of hope.

Without Him, Trossachs will always be just a bunch of old cabins in a pasture,
But with Him, Trossachs became Holy ground.

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