About Camp Barakel

Barakel Exists To Proclaim the Glory of God

Camp Barakel exists to proclaim truth about the living God. We want people to feel the weight of God’s glory, know the depth of Biblical truth and see the beauty of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. The glory of God is on display at camp in every season. His glory is seen in His majestic creation. Psalm 97 says “The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His glory.” The proclamation of the written Word of God in chapel makes His glory heard. Like Paul in Acts 20 we say, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” Sometimes His glory is felt as the Holy Spirit brings conviction in a listener’s heart and awakens that heart from the deadness of sin. Camp Barakel is here to show and tell of God. This proclamation is, at the same time, both old and new. We take our message from a very old book, but that message is more relevant for our day than much of what is considered fashionable. The story of Camp Barakel is the story of God’s faithfulness, and that story is being added to every day. We trust your heart will be stirred to praise God as you read of what He has done.

How We Got Started

Camp Barakel was founded in the early 1940s by a young pastor named Holman ‘Johnnie’ Johnson. Johnnie had recently graduated from Moody Bible Institute and was the pastor of a small rural congregation just west of Lansing, Michigan. As the church grew, Johnnie desired to have a ministry that would really get at the hearts of young people. The Lord led him to organize a summer camp for the church youth... and the roots of what is now Camp Barakel began to grow. In those early days, Barakel rented a former CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) campsite located on the shore of Lake Michigan near Muskegon. (Where they had an old blockhouse, which became our symbol.) Barakel grew from approximately 30 to nearly 800 summer campers during those first years. In 1952, through a series of events that can only be described as marvelous, the dear Lord provided our present campsite near Fairview, Michigan - originally two hundred acres. Today the property includes 350 acres (including all of the frontage on Shear Lake) and hosts more than 10,000 people per year.

Be sure to see our Heritage page for more about our founder, and the place “where God has blessed.”

What’s A “Barakel”?

Our name is from a Hebrew word which means “blessing of God.” It was originally a man’s name in the Old Testament book of Job (chapter 32), and was suggested to us in the 1940s by a nine-year old camper. Thousands of people will agree that Camp Barakel is a place “where God has blessed.”

Who Owns Camp Barakel?

Camp Barakel is owned and operated by a group of 40 local churches, all located in Michigan’s lower peninsula. These churches, from a variety of denominations, operate the camp as a non-denominational ministry. We are a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Aerial View of Camp Barakel

What Is Camp Barakel Like?

The dear Lord has blessed Camp Barakel with a beautiful setting. Our property is located in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula, approximately 45 miles east of Grayling along the northern edge of the Huron National Forest. We are surrounded by forest in all directions and our acreage is wooded with rolling hills and valleys. Shear Lake (the headwaters of the south branch of the Thunder Bay River) is completely spring-fed. The water in the lake is clear and pure… in fact, it still passes the drinking water standards established by the State of Michigan. The lake nestles at the bottom of a valley whose sides are covered with mature pine, oak, birch, cedar and poplar. It is a great place for swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and paddle-boating. Since we border the National Forest, we are afforded the use of over 1,000 additional acres as a part of our year-’round camping season.

Over the years, we have worked very carefully to blend our buildings into the environment. We desire to have the beauty of God’s creation be predominate — for His power and majesty to be most visible. Thus, our buildings are made of natural materials (wood and stone) that come from our local area. We have carefully laid out the buildings in an attempt to blend them with the surrounding forest. The interiors of our buildings are knotty pine — many have exposed shaved log trusses and fireplaces in an attempt to give a ‘northwoods atmosphere.’ More than 400 campers and staff may be housed at any given time. There are two completely separate and self-sufficient camp facilities (one on each side of Shear Lake) with a total of more than 40 buildings. There are also accommodations in our 50-site RV Park. Construction is done by our own staff with the help of volunteer labor. (Virtual Tour)

We hope you’ll venture up to the place “where God has blessed” and see the area for yourself. Our county (Oscoda) is the least populated in the lower peninsula — and is as fine a place to go camping as you can imagine. (Directions)

What Is Our Purpose?

Our mission is to give a thoroughly Biblical declaration of the glories of God among the entire Barakel community, with a view to gathering worshipers who magnify God through the gladness of radically obedient lives. All to the glory of God!

Camp Barakel Essential Doctrines


We believe that the Holy Scriptures, contained in the 66 canonical books of the Bible, have been verbally inspired by God through his Spirit to their human authors. As such, they are infallible, inerrant, and demand our obedience. They are our sole and final authority for doctrine and practice. (Luke 24:27, John 17:17, Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 2:13, 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21)


We believe in one God, maker of all things visible and invisible, who is eternally existent in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are one God, each having the same nature and attributes, but each carry out distinct functions in the sovereign plan of God. (Deuteronomy 6:4, Matthew 28:18-19, John 1:14, John 5:17-19, John 10:30, 2 Corinthians 13:14, Hebrews 1:1-3)

Man, Created and Fallen

We believe that the universe and everything in it was created by God to glorify him. The culmination of his work was the special creation of Man and Woman in His own image. We also believe all mankind has fallen into sin, is thereby placed under God’s righteous judgment, and is therefore in need of a savior. (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:1-19, Psalms 14:1-3, Romans 3:10-19, Ephesians 2:1-3)

Person and Work of Jesus Christ

We believe that the man Jesus did live a perfect and sinless life on earth. Although he deserved no penalty, he was crucified as a substitute for sin to turn God’s wrath away from helpless sinners. He rose again bodily from the dead and ascended into Heaven where he currently reigns over the created world at God’s right hand. (I Corinthians 15:4, Philippians 2:5-8, Hebrews 5:8-9, Hebrews 10:10-14, 1 John 2:2)

Person and Work of the Holy Spirit

We believe that the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of Scripture also works to illuminate the meaning of Scripture in the lives of those who read it, and to plant faith in the hearts of those who would be saved. (John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9)


We believe that salvation from the penalty of sin is available only in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ whereby his righteousness is imputed to the sinner. This is the gracious provision of God and is received solely through conscious faith in Jesus Christ, to the glory of God. All those who are born again by the Spirit through faith in Christ are assured of their salvation from the moment they take Him to be their Savior. (Acts 4:12, Romans 5:6-9, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 John 5:13)


We believe God defines marriage as one man and one woman becoming one flesh. God establishes this one flesh relationship when one man and one woman enter into a formal covenant. God has commanded that sexual activity is reserved for the marriage relationship only and is not to be defiled by sexual immorality (Genesis 2:18-24, Matthew 19:4-6, Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Malachi 2:14, Matthew 19:6, Hebrews 13:4).

The Church

We believe that God’s people are united across time and space in the universal church, and that the rightful home for the Christian is the corporate gathering of the local church. (Romans 12:5, Colossians 1:18)

Return of Christ

We believe in the resurrection of the saints of God and in the bodily return of Jesus Christ in his glory to judge the living and the dead on the Day of the Lord. (Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 1 Peter 4:5)