Camp Barakel - Farview, Michigan
For the past two years, a couple of guys and I have made the six and a half hour drive to Camp Barakel in northeastern Lower Michigan for one of their fall men’s retreats. The first year that I went up there I fell in love with the beautiful area. The camp is located on about 350 acres of beautiful forestland with its own spring fed lake (Shear Lake) on the edge of Huron National Forest. Barakel is not like one of those religious camps that are Christian in name only. It is an authentically Christian camp that is dedicated to proclaiming God’s glory and helping people find Jesus Christ as their savior. It is a great place to go to get away and to draw closer to God.
Map of Camp Barakel
History of Camp Barakel
The camp’s name means a place “where God has blessed.” The camp was founded way back in the 1940s by a young pastor with a heart to reach young people. The camp began meeting at the current campsite a few years later in 1952. Currently, the camp has over 10,000 people come each year. A group of 40 churches, consisting of a variety of denominations, owns the camp. What makes Camp Barakel unique is that they can run two different camps at the same time. Each side of the lake has its own separate camp facilities including a chapel, meal hall, and cabins. Larger retreats utilize both sides of the camp.
Top Activities at Camp Barakel
The main goal is to introduce people to Christ in the camp chapels if they do not know Him and to help those that do draw closer to Him. Every retreat sets aside time for a set amount of chapel sessions that offer a wonderful time of worship and a powerful message from God’s Word. When chapel is over, there is a lot of free time to enjoy all that the camp has to offer.
One of the highlights of a trip to Barakel is a chance to ride on their 950-foot zip line. Once you put your safety harness on, it is a short walk through the woods to the starting tower that is approximately 30-feet off of the ground. A quick climb to the top and you are ready to zip across snow valley and your fly down the hill. It is a blast. The best time to go is when you first arrive at camp, as the lines are not very long. It is a definite highlight of a trip there.
The Thunder Express is one of my favorite activities. A 160-foot long plastic corrugated drainage tube runs from the top of a hill to the bottom. Each person grabs a plastic toboggan sled and climbs onto the platform at the top of the hill. As you get into the sled and look down the long tube, all you can see is a small light at the end of the tunnel. You would be surprised at the amount of speed that you pickup by the time that you come out of the bottom of the tunnel. The only bad part is the walk back up the hill to do it again.
Another one of the popular activities at the camp is fishing in Shear Lake. The camp offers canoes, small boats, and paddleboats to take out on the lake. There are also plenty of places to fish from shore from. Since the lake is fully owned by Camp Barakel, you do not need a fishing license to fish there. During any of the winter retreats, you can go ice fishing on the lake.
Rifle and Archery Range
The rifle range offers a chance to see how well you can shoot targets. The camp provides .22 caliber rifles and bullets for your use. If you wish to bring your own rifle or shotguns, you can go to one of the sand pits in the national forest and shoot them there. The camp also has an archery range with bow and arrows for you to use.
The camp has something to do for everyone. Other summer activities include swimming, soccer, volleyball, softball, climbing wall, hiking in the national forest, and mountain biking. Winter activities include tubing, cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and a hockey rink. Also, there is a game room in the basement of each chapel that includes pool tables, ping-pong tables, air hockey, and more.
Types of Retreats Offered at Camp Barakel
Camp Barakel runs all different kinds of retreat camps year round. They use the months of November and December to do maintenance around the camp.
Barakel offers several different men’s and women’s camp retreats each year. These retreats are Friday night through Sunday morning retreats. They are a great time of worship, drawing closer to God, and enjoying a great time of fellowship with other believers. I absolutely love the fall men’s retreats. Camp Barakel is a beautiful place to be in the fall. It is so relaxing and peaceful there. They also have a camp set aside for grandparents.
Barakel also has many different kinds of family retreats including father daughter, father son, mother daughter, and mother son retreats. These are great opportunities for a parent to get away and have fun with their kids. Married couples have a chance to have a getaway weekend twice a year at Barakel, usually around Valentine’s Day and again in September. They also have two family camps each year on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends, respectively.
College Age Retreats
Camp Barakel offers a college and career retreat geared towards singles in their late teens and twenties. This retreat takes place right around the beginning of the New Year. It is a great time to get away and have some fun in wintry northern Michigan.
Teen and Kids Retreats
Teen retreats are very popular at Camp Barakel. They run individual retreats for junior high and high school students. They also have several combined retreats where the junior high teens are on one side of the camp and the high school ones are on the other side. These retreats are usually run in late winter into summer. Camp Barakel also offers retreats for grade school kids third grade and up during June and July.
Video of Tom Harmon Preaching at a Church
Barakel has become a special place in my heart. It is a place I can go with some guy friends and have a good time and learn about Jesus. Hearing Tom Harmon preach God’s Word is worth the price of admission. Tom usually preaches at both of the fall men’s retreats. He can really bring it and does not hold back. Enjoying beautiful northern Michigan is an added benefit. Another thing that I absolutely love about the camp is that wood fireplaces heat both the chapels and dining halls. There is nothing like wood heat on a cool and damp morning. I cannot recommend Camp Barakel enough!