Who are we?
The Oxendine family (Butch, Kathy, Leah (her husband Michael and baby Shiloh), Will, Adam, Andrew, and Luke) founded and produce the annual Florida Shindig. We live in Reddick, Florida (about 40 minutes from the camp). We have a small farm with chickens, goldfish, bass and catfish, a doberman Chika (who is the Shindig mascot), cats (one indoor and others outdoor), a guinea pig, and other varmints.
The Oxendines founded a non-profit corporation, the North Florida Christian Homeschool Association, to run the Shindig. We’re also grateful for help, encouragement, support from our church family, Crossroads Bible Church.
Why did we start the Florida Shindig?
We attended the huge No Greater Joy Shindig in Missouri in 2013. We rented a Class C motor home (the ones with the waving kids on the side). While the Missouri event was great, it was so large that our family nearly got swallowed up. We had a bit of a “parents pity party,” as we really didn’t connect with anyone else. This is partly because the venue was so spread out, but mainly because our attitudes were wrong at the time.
While there, we pondered the idea of producing a smaller Shindig in Florida. We thought a smaller Shindig might be really helpful to families to make real connections, get encouragement, build friendships and perhaps more for our older children. It was logical for our family to take the lead on this, as Butch already produced 11 conferences every year for his collegiate association ASGA (see www.asgahome.org). For three years, we talked and prayed about this idea and got feedback from our friends. We had almost given up on the idea when the news came…
When did it start?
In 2016, the Pearls announced that they would not be doing any more Shindigs. Miss Debi said the stress was literally killing them. Shindigs are hard to do! They’re time-consuming, tiring, and cost a lot! If lots of people cancel at the last minute, our family could lose thousands of dollars.
The Pearls said they would help families who would take the risk of producing a Shindig. In Texas, the Powers family produced the first one, the East Texas Mini Shindig, which went very well. Butch & Kathy listened to some good advice from the Powers.
Then we visited nearby camps, even as far as Orlando. Most were far too expensive for many homeschool families with one income and several children. Some charge $60 per person per day! We were striking out on a location until a family friend, Daniel Cook, mentioned Lake Swan Camp. The Lake Swan leaders really supported the Florida Shindig idea and have done everything possible to adjust their fees so that families can attend. We’re very grateful to Lake Swan Camp and to Daniel Cook for his suggestion. This might not be able to work if not for Lake Swan’s flexibility and ministry-minded business philosophy. They are not in it for the money (but they still have to make a living and not lose money).
Once we secured a camp, we asked the Pearls to mention the Florida Shindig and consider speaking. A small article in the No Greater Joy magazine and a blurb at their Facebook page was all it took to get families to sign up the first year. We had 309 people attend in 2017. Attendance jumped to 433 in 2018, and rose to 460 in 2019. There were 385 in 2020. The 2021 attendance is looking good despite the fear, panic, and hysteria in most of the nation.
A family produces this event, not a company
When you correspond, have needs, or criticisms, please be aware that we’re doing this as a ministry and we’re volunteering our time: hundreds of hours throughout the year.
It is challenging and time-consuming to produce the Florida Shindig. Honestly, it’s pretty difficult! Everyone in the family contributes. Butch works nearly full-time on preparations for a month leading up to the event. Kathy talks to most of the families by phone, text, and e-mail. But it is a labor of love. It is our way to serve our friends and other like-minded Bible-believing families.
Many have said the Florida Shindig is the highlight of their year. There already have been eight marriages as a result of the Florida Shindig, and probably more to come. Several have given their lives to Jesus and/or rededicated their lives while there. Many have grown in their relationships with their families and with God. We have heard great teaching that is challenging, uplifting, piercing, and encouraging.
We have made many new friends and grown as a family from producing the Florida Shindig. It is an honor and privilege to serve the Kingdom of God in this small way.