In 1972, in an old open-air wooden tabernacle, 14-year-old Jerry Kitts knelt at an altar on a wood chip floor and surrendered his life to following God’s call while attending youth camp. It comes as no surprise that five decades later, he can still be spotted at campgrounds across Texas doing exactly what he knows God has called him to do – to be a TBM Camp Builder.
Jerry and his wife, Ruth, yearned to spend retirement differently from the stereotypical image of playing golf and sitting in recliners. In 2021, the couple embarked on their first Camp Builders project. This came after Jerry had spent 41 years working, including 24 years in the cabinet manufacturing industry; and Ruth had worked 35 years as a nurse. They haven’t looked back since.
“We really feel like God called us to this,” Ruth said. “Since we joined, we’ve become more passionate about camps. It’s fun to be able to serve behind the scenes knowing what we do is just a small part of the ministry for campers to retreat and get away to find God.”
While participating in a project at Panfork Baptist Camp in Wellington, Jerry spotted an aging chapel with a rotting steeple. Inside, scribbles and carvings graced the walls where campers had written prayers and confessions to God. Jerry felt a tug on his heart to bring life back to the place where thousands of students had met with their Father.
“We took some measurements and sent them to TBM craftsman Ralph Stephenson, and he constructed a new steeple out of cedar wood,” Jerry explained. “I built a base and mounted the steeple. TBM Camp Builders build altars – places where kids of all ages can meet with God. What could be more fun and fulfilling than that?”
At each jobsite, Ruth and the other women set up a sewing room and tackle countless tapestry projects for the camps and various ministries. Ruth finds great joy in sewing items for the camps, such as curtains, that help bring new life to the inside of the facilities.
The couples’ passions for camps stems from countless memories of God working through their own lives as young campers. Volunteering with Camp Builders is just one way they believe they can help camps continue that legacy.
“As the world is getting busier, camp is still an oasis,” Jerry said. “It’s where kids come and willingly lay down their cell phones. We want to make it a place where the camp staff don’t have to worry about the facilities and can just focus on sharing the Gospel.”
Ruth and Jerry encourage anyone nearing retirement to strongly consider spending their new free time in ways contrary to what the world suggests.
“God made us to work and serve,” Jerry said. “We are happiest and most fulfilled when we do both while actually using our God-given abilities and being thankful for our good health.”
When they aren’t serving with TBM Camp Builders, the Kittses enjoy traveling in their RV and spending time with their seven grandchildren.
TBM Builders ministries – including Church, Camp and Cabinet Builders – empower churches, camps and other ministries to accomplish their God-given visions of expanding the kingdom of God. Click here to learn more about opportunities to volunteer with TBM Builders.