Jamie and Ruffin Shackelford have been camping since they were wee young ‘uns. Ruffin grew up spending summers up at Cataloochee Ranch following head wrangler, Todd Henry, through these mountains on horseback, on foot with friends, and anyone else who was interested. during the winter season, he wandered the wilds of West Texas, while his father, George Shackelford, painted the desert scenes. He attended Student Conservation Core in high school and went onto NOLS climbing and mountaineering with Paul Petzl during “the good old days.”
Jamie started skiing and camping when just a youngster. She led her first camp for preschoolers in her backyard when only ten years old! She started an outdoors club in high school, and she and her father backpacked in the Adirondacks every chance they got. She picked up paddling and a little climbing back in the ’70s. When they met, in Colorado, they knew they were a perfect fit! Both dreamed of leading outdoor adventure trips. They began Backcountry Skiing, guiding cross country ski and camping trips through the mountains of Colorado.
After moving to North Carolina, to be closer to family, they raised their 6 children and 14 foster kids, camping, climbing and canoeing. They began to take out more organized trips in 1999, first with at-risk and court-involved kids, then began to include teen mothers and other kids that had few opportunities to engage in wilderness experiences. In 2001, they had seen so many spiritual changes in kids’ lives through time in small groups set in the mountains, lakes, and other wilds, that they began a chapter of Youth For Christ. They hoped to incorporate the local church in building life-changing relationships with kids. That program continues today under the name My Life Matters, serving over 900 kids a week in rural Roxboro, NC! Ruffin left his career as a power plant manager in 2008 to move to Maggie Valley to finish building the facility and go into camp ministry full-time. They developed SHERPA -a ten-week wilderness discipleship program, Wilderness 101, a small group wilderness experience, WILD- Wilderness Instruction for Leaders and Disciples, La Aventura, a Spanish Speaking camp, and partnered with a local camp for kids with developmental challenges- Camp Ability. After some health issues and significant family loss, both Ruffin and Jamie, along with their advisory board, decided it is time for a change. YFC is changing and we no longer were a good fit, so by mutual agreement, we have become an independent 501c3.
As a new focus emerges, Outdoor Mission Camp is now Outdoor Mission Community. The new OMC has a desire to reach a larger population with less boundaries. We hope to engage our local community, as well as the wider population to impact other organizations, as well as individuals to help people spend time in the wilderness, value quiet time with God, care for our planet, and spread God’s love! For the latest in OMC’s current history, check out the Smoky Mountain News article, https://www.smokymountainnews.com/archives/item/28528-a-time-for-change-outdoor-mission-camp-expands-its-focus-under-new-name