In 1974, George and Irene Holling approached the bishop of the Nebraska Synod/Lutheran Church in America, Rev. Dr. Reuben Swanson, with an offer of a half section of land (320 acres) near Ashland, Nebraska. The Hollings wished to give the land…that had been in the family for many years…to the church. This gift would be given to establish a Christian youth camp in memory of their daughter, Carol Joy Holling.
Carol, who was born in 1934, had enjoyed the outdoors, lots of friends and her Lutheran faith. A tragic car accident in 1952 took Carol’s life. The accident happened as she and two others were traveling to Arizona where Carol was to begin her college career at Arizona State University. She was only 18.
Carol’s parents believed that having future generations of young people enjoy time in the great outdoors where they could make new friends and where they could grow in faith would be an appropriate way to memorialize their precious daughter.
In order for the Lutheran Church to receive the property, George and Irene stipulated that children would have to be camping on the grounds within five years or the land would return to the Hollings’ ownership. The Nebraska Synod accepted the offer of the land in 1974 and in 1979, the first campers enjoyed time away in this very special, yet primitive, place. There were 356 campers during that first year of camp.
George Holling died in 1988 and Irene passed away in 1991. The ashes of Carol Joy and her parents reside in the altar at the camp’s Inspiration Point where thousands have come to worship, pray and enjoy time around the campfire.
Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries gives thanks to God for the life of Carol Joy Holling and the marvelous, life-changing generosity of her parents.