We, Jason & Rilene, the proud parents of Jacob Arvid Johnson would like to tell you a bit about “Jacobs Ladder” a memorial dedicated to him at Kedleston Gospel Camp.
Jacob was all boy. He loved his camouflage comfy pants and would complain when mom wanted him to wear jeans and a shirt that didn’t have an animal on the front. His favorite things to do were hunting and fishing. If he couldn’t be outside shooting gophers, morning doves and sparrows with his BB gun, the safari animals would get lined up and the nerf gun would shoot them for hours in the house. His other interests were archery, boating, playing with his dog Bear, quadding, skidooing, building forts, camping and of course wrestling on the trampoline with his two brothers Ethan and Peyton. Jacob loved building things, he spent many hours in the shop cutting, screwing, sawing wood, just trying to build everything from boats to skateboards. It was always fun watching him create.
Jacob loved camping, he loved every aspect of it. He loved the family and friend time, the campfires, and sleeping in a tent. He had many living room camp outs with friends and as soon as it was summer he would pitch a tent in our backyard under the spruce trees near the fire pit so he and his brother Ethan and his dog Bear could have a fire before they went to sleep.
Jacob was a healthy boy his whole life. Besides stiches and a cast on his arm when he was 5 he lived a full and active life. We took Jacob to the hospital on October 15th 2014 because he had a stiff and sore neck, and on October 19 2014 Jacob passed away due to a large tumor discovered inside his spinal cord, at the age of 9.
Kedleston Camp was a huge part of Rilene’s life. God spoke to her there, she learned life skills, made life long friendships, it made an impact on the woman she is today. Rilene wanted the same experiences for her three boys as they grew up. We started attending the Family Adventure camp at the end of June, and it has become a tradition for us, as it worked well with the farming seasons, and Jacobs birthday was always during this weekend.
Jacob quickly fell in love with camping at Kedleston. He loved being around different kids, loved the games, fishing, and being outdoors. It was at the Family Adventure camp in 2011 when he was 6 that Jacobs life changed forever, and what made kedleston special for me as his dad. It was after the Saturday evening service Jacob and I were walking up to our camper together talking about what he had learned at church. Jacob wasn’t a man of many words but he asked me about heaven, so we talked about that and how he could get there. Jacob then said he would like to ask Jesus into his heart, and get to know God as a friend. So Jacob and I prayed together on the front steps of our camper and he asked Jesus to be his best friend forever.
So this is some of the reasons why “Jacob’s Ladder” was built. Yes, it’s a memorial for our son Jacob, but it is more than that. We pray that it will be used as a tool to help bring more kids to Kedleston to hear about God, have their lives impacted and changed and make decisions to follow Jesus as Jacob did.
My son Jacob and my wife Rilene are two examples of lives changed because of Kedleston Gospel Camp, and our hope and prayer is that “Jacob’s Ladder” can be another tool used to bring the gospel to campers for years to come.