Up until Second Baptist Church in Downtown Little Rock purchased the Lake Nixon Outdoor Center in late 1968, the facilities there were strictly segregated. In 1969, Second Baptist Church, or 2BC, began offering integrated summer camp programs. Today, the Lake Nixon Summer Day Camps are recognized as among the best in Little Rock and are an affordable option for working families.
Every summer, over 400 children attend 2BC’s Summer Day Camps at Lake Nixon. On the beautiful 200+ acre recreational facility, kids take nature hikes, go swimming, do arts and crafts, have Bible lessons, and engage in other activities. Information about Summer Day Camps can be found here: http://www.2bclr.com/lakenixon/daycamp/.
In 2018, a memorial will be erected at Lake Nixon to recognize its place as a site on the National Historic Registry. Monica Woods, Program Developer and Lead Educator at Lake Nixon, says that “things have come full circle. The Church is really proud of the turnabout.” Second Baptist Pastor Preston Clegg says “Lake Nixon exists today because a church in the 1960’s held the unpopular belief that all people were created in the image of God and worthy of dignity, respect, and inclusion at God’s table. Second Baptist’s sincere hope is that Lake Nixon- in its very existence- bears witness to racial justice and harmony. When we remember this history, it’s not just rational recall, but the sort of remembering that propels us forward to continue the work. Every time I swim in Lake Nixon, I can’t help but remember my baptism and who I’m called to be as a follower of Jesus.”
Second Baptist Church has also recently launched a year-round outdoor preschool at Lake Nixon, in which 3-5 year-olds spend all day outdoors. Registration for outdoor preschool for 2018-2019 school year opens April 1st and registration information can be found here: http://www.2bclr.com/outdoor-preschool-application/.
2BC is excited about the opportunity the outdoor preschool will provide for “children to experience the beauty of Lake Nixon and be outside, especially in a time when a lot of kids don’t even get a proper recess” says Monica Woods. Gerald Cound, a volunteer at Lake Nixon, says that “this is just a beautiful natural area that needs to be preserved.” Gerald and other volunteers work with the natural space to provide a safe, comfortable environment for the children that will provide them with a positive experience.
For the people of 2BC, Lake Nixon is truly a ministry. Pastor Clegg says of the space, “every time I step foot on the grounds of Lake Nixon, I think of the word ‘Sabbath.’ It is a place for rest and renewal, prayer and play. Truly, it is a place for re-creation in the most literal sense of that word. It is a place for people to rediscover their humanity. It is a place where children, including the child that lives in each one of us, can behold the wonder of soil, the mystery of water, and the glory of a tree. It is a place where creation points to the Creator. It’s a place we intend to share with all of Central Arkansas in every way we can.”