Saturday, April 26, 2014

Fun and Fellowship in Big Sandy, Texas!

We are tearfully headed home from our 2nd trip and week spent in Big Sandy, TX for the annual ATI Homeschool Conference. We arrived early on Saturday morning and enjoyed 4 days of camping fun with our family, meeting new friends and fellowshipping with the families we met last year. We were encouraged in our journey and were encouraged by what the Lord is doing in other families’ lives. From the moment we pulled up our big kids were off finding all their penpals and friends from last year. Once the 3 day conference began it was go, go, go! We would quickly grab breakfast, get some dinner in the crockpot, run the kids to their activities and programs and be filled with great speakers’ teachings and sermons. The conference itself was so encouraging and gave us a year’s worth of application to pursue in our Christian walk, the number one teaching we will bring home is the Power of Prayer by David Gibbs. We hope to pursue of journey of nonstop and very powerful prayer this year!

Here is our blog post from our 1st year attending this conference, when our discernment was peaked and ready to decipher theological and doctrinal error: A Week in Big Sandy with the Duggars

This blog post is to share some pictures of the fun we had during this year’s conference but before I share, I would like to address the current Gothard issue so this is not read as if I am na├»ve to happenings. Gothard was not present at this conference as he has resigned and has released a statement online (click here for Gothard’s statement). ATI as a whole is not a person but a ministry, a ministry that truly strives to equip families to love and serve the Lord, their families, and others. The families we have met and continue to meet (including the Duggars and Bates) are real people, saved from real sin and serving a very real Jesus. As humans we can and still do fall into sin and temptation, it is why we need a personal, loving Savior. Whether innocent or guilty we do feel Gothard did the right thing in stepping down and stepping back to evaluate his own walk with the Lord and reconcile with those who feel or were wronged. This is just another homeschool conference with great and encouraging speakers to help strengthen Christians, parents and families in their walk with the Lord. I do believe that the ATI’s ministry began to encourage families and provide teaching and curriculum to help them along their homeschool journey, but along the way instead of worshipping Jesus and using ATI as a tool, ATI and Gothard have been worshipped and followed to the point of idolatry. We must always evaluate our own heart and motives, the Lord tells us in Proverbs 4:23 to “guard our heart.” Our heart focus should be Jesus! Gothard needs prayer, he and many other men of ministry are not perfect, they are men like David, who although may be men after God’s own heart they are human and can fall into lust, temptation and great sin (James 1:14-15). It should hurt our heart when we see a man fall and hurt our heart all the more when they bring a whole ministry with them. We were thankful that the conference continued this year under new management, it was an encouragement to our family.
Here are some pictures from our trip:

                The twins Sunday best!                                       Risa and Sam with Jim Bob Duggar!

     Anthony and Sam chillin' with Jason.                                  Daddy walking with the twins!

       Six little children standing on a log...                                             Cool Dudes!

             Mirabel and Sam on a family walk                    Maggie hitching a ride from big brother

        1st fun-filled day at planned activites                                            Mom & Dad
       Risa and Titus at Children's Institute                               Samuel and Anthony at ALERT

                   Mirabel at Pre-Embassy                                 Maggie hanging with mom and dad

               Best friends when awake...                                                     ...and asleep!

Stop by our 5 Kids 6 Months Facebook page where I will be sharing some other wonderful families’ websites and blogs that we have met while camping here! They are real, imperfect and in love with Jesus just like us!

Click here for our blog post about the 2013 conference
Click here for our blog post about the 2015 conference

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone


  1. Your family makes me so happy! You all are truly an inspiration. I'm happy that you guys had a great vacation at the conference. :)

  2. Hi. We love your blog! We are considering attending the ATI conf next April. We will be flying in from Vermont and we were wondering how we go about camping? Is it a camp ground that you all are at? If it is do they rent campers? If not is there a place to rent campers? Are there places close by to get groceries.? Any info or tips you may have would be greatly appreciated . Thank you!

    1. Hello, Thank you! The ATI conference center does have it's own huge RV and tent campground with electric and water hookups, sewer dump station and bathroom facilities. The conference center and children activity drop off areas are all a short walk away from our campsite. Here is a link to campground information:

      We do have our own RV and the drive is half the fun! We also set up a large tent and on nice nights the kids usually want to sleep in the tent. There was a family across from us this year that drove there in their vehicle and rented a camper. The camper rental place in TX came, set it up and came back to pack it all up. There are dorm rentals available on site as well but they do cost a little more. The best part about staying at the campground is the constant fellowship! It is safe and the kids are off on bikes and at the huge playground and obstacle courses with the friends they miss all year.

      There are grocery stores and a walmart close by if you have a car and leave the campus. They also have a meal plan program that you can pay a bulk price for breakfast, lunch and dinner to be provided at the cafeteria. The food is good and plentiful! We personally spend the week before preparing frozen crock pot meals so that on the road and at the campsite I can just pop a frozen bag into the crock pot and not worry about cooking on vacation! Here is the map of where the campground and conference center is:,+Texas+75755&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=0x8649df9ba728e877:0x4eebbbdf53a9788,Academy+Blvd,+Big+Sandy,+TX+75755&gl=us&ei=Mz5-U9uJEYiyyASpgIGQCw&ved=0CCoQ8gEwAA (google has a feature that you can click "search nearby" and put in grocery stores to know what is available nearby).

      Hope that helped and hope to meet you next year!

  3. Good morning!
    I know this post is older, and from reading newer posts you are quite busy getting ready to move into your new home! I originally found your blog doing a Google search on a book and large families.
    We recently moved to Texas and are researching attending Big Sandy this next year. We had friends who attended Sacramento conference and have really appreciated the conference.
    In my research, I am curious how families with young ones handle the week. We will have a 10-month old and 2-year old as our youngest of 6. It seems the other ages we have can sign up for a program.
    We don't have a camper, and would prefer to camp versus the cost of the dorm.
    But, I would also like to prepare our own food to save money.
    Anyhow, sorry to bombard you with so many questions!
    Have a merry and blessed Christmas!
    I have really enjoyed reading about your family.

    1. Hello, We enjoy it every year and are already registered for 2015's conference! I would love to walk you through logistics, feel free to either message me on our Facebook page or email us at Hope to talk to you soon! Thanks!