The rolling hills at Hidden Falls Camp are teeming with children of all ages through the hot summer months, but as the season winds down and students return to school, it opens its doors to a very different group of campers.

Hidden Falls is a 706-acre camp near Bedford, Indiana that is owned and operated by The Salvation Army. It offers Indiana children who otherwise couldn’t afford a camp experience the opportunity to learn and grow, both physically and spiritually, during week-long adventures. Each September, though, more than 100 campers over the age of 55 come to Hidden Falls for their own special adventure.

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Leading campers in song

Older Adult Camp is more than a chance to act like a kid again. For many campers, it’s an opportunity that they never had in their youth and wouldn’t otherwise have as an adult. From swimming in the indoor pool to taking part in a fun skit or talent show, camp lets seniors on fixed incomes break away from their daily routines and try something new, creative and exhilarating.

“They rip it up great and have a fun time,” says Nellie Sillanpa, a retired Salvation Army officer who once ran Older Adult Camp and now attends each summer as a camper. “They love it! They like to be out in the village, in the cabins where they can all be together.”

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A camper dances during a musical performance

Each year, Older Adult Camp is built around a theme, and this year was no exception with the theme “Back to Childhood.” In addition to traditional camp activities, like crafts, fun games and fishing, campers dress up in costumes for a night of pageantry and fellowship.

“Baby boomers are becoming older adults,” explains Major Margaret Hill, The Salvation Army’s Older Adult Ministries Director. “We want our programs to meet their needs and provide a better lifestyle. They want something to do, something to look forward to. They want to participate and uplift someone else, and camp gives them that opportunity.”

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Participants in the “Who Killed Mother Goose” skit

Campers were able to attend for only $60, which included all meals and activities, thanks to donations that support older adult programs. Of course, when it comes to summer camp, the memories are priceless at any age.