Big New Plans for Council House Café

The Council House Café is a popular spot on the Natchez Trace Parkway for many travelers and local residents.  Its reputation for delicious sandwiches and soups is known and enjoyed by people from all over the world.  “I’m sure George Richey of Carrollton, MS who donated the logs back in 1967 never imagined the impact his gift was going to make,” says Lance Ragsdale, Vice President of Development at French Camp Academy.

For the past year a plan has steadily been shaping this historic space to become bigger and better.  The original building that we know as the Council House Café will remain the same and become available for group events.  The new space will be connected to the Huffman Log Cabin Gift Shop providing an expanded dining room space accented by a large indoor fireplace.  A large deck with an outdoor fireplace will also be a new space for guests to enjoy a meal under the shady oak tree.  Along with the dining areas, an expanded menu is also in the works.  The new commercial grade kitchen will provide our café staff opportunity to create tasty new items on the menu to complement most of the old favorites.

Expect the new Council House Café to be ready by Labor Day 2019.  And if you want to learn more about the French Camp Historic Village, please log on to


Mid South Star Gaze and Astronomy Conference

Rainwater Observatory is gearing up for its annual Midsouth Stargaze and Astronomy Conference April 3-6, 2019. This event attracts amateur and professional astronomers from around the country. It is held under one of the few remaining dark skies in the southeastern United States and just off the beautiful Natchez Trace Parkway near the village of French Camp, Mississippi. Join us this year for fun, fellowship, observing and fascinating presentations by professional astronomers and others such as galaxy researcher, Dr. William Keel from the University of Alabama, astrophotographer-retired “Hurricane Hunter” Jon Talbot and much more!


Daytime activities include solar viewing, fascinating presentations and workshops by professional research astronomers, and good food with a healthy dose of tall tales. Nights will be spent viewing the heavens through a variety of telescopes, space photography, eating, visiting, and watching the sunrise.

This year we have a special opportunity as Jon Talbot will present an astrophotography workshop on Thursday April 4, 2019 from 10:00am-4:00pm with a break for lunch. This workshop will cover the fundamentals of taking raw data and making a color image out of it using PixInsight.


We have a large camping area with a pavilion, picnic tables, amphitheater, men’s and women’s showers and bathrooms, WIFI access, all new electrical outlets on the hill and camp area, 14 bed air-conditioned bunk house, four new grills and five campfire pit areas with surround seating as well as other camping areas around the observatory hill. There is a Bed and Breakfast, Council House Cafe, Lodge, Memphis Guest House and other additional lodging located within a mile of the observatory. Register soon to ensure your choice of lodging.

W-O-R-K-I-N-G it out at French Camp Academy

For many “W-O-R-K” is not a word to be embraced.  Some do anything they can to avoid it.  Others go to other extremes and exhaust themselves to enjoy the better things in life.  Others, out of necessity and circumstances, work several jobs just to put food on the table.  It can produce life-altering stress and physical issues.


Work wasn’t meant to be a chore in the beginning.  You know the story.  God gave Adam and Eve some land. The soil was perfect! The fruit from their labor was satisfying.  Work was good, and life had meaning!  And then it happened!  Sin entered the workplace.  Weeds shot up.  Life got complicated quickly.


Genesis 3:17-18…after the First Couple took a bite from the forbidden fruit, God told them some really bad news. In short, He said the ground is cursed because of you. You will struggle to make a living. And all your life you will struggle to make a living from it.  It will grow thorns and thistles for you.


Ouch!  Work today isn’t what God planned for us, is it?  But God gives LOTS of grace and wants us to work out a proper perspective of work.  Most French Camp Academy young people who come out of a culture demanding us to make bucket piles of money fast.  And the message is clear: YOU come first.  Look out for number ONE.


French Camp strives to teach a different model of viewing work, because we believe a perspective shaped by God’s Word can transform a life and generations to follow.


  • Every afternoon Monday–Friday and Saturday mornings young people 7th –12th grades are assigned to work coordinators. If you visit our campus during those hours throughout the week, you will notice young people accomplishing and learning different tasks.  Photography, weed eating, retail, writing thank you notes to FCA supporters, cleaning offices, answering telephones, operating a back-hoe, and a host of other activities provide opportunities for adults to teach young people life skills and develop habits of working every day.


  • As FCA students enter their Junior year of their academic program, French Camp’s Life Coaching program kicks into high gear. Students learn about their unique God-given strengths, their passions in life, natural abilities, personality characteristics, and life experiences.  Monthly mentoring meetings and classroom instructions help students shape a life purpose catapulting them into the future by laying out a track they can run on for life after high school.


Sound biblical teaching supports all of our work we do with young people ensuring that a Christ-focused world view shapes their lives.  The work program at FCA is designed to point our students into career paths, teach them a Christian work ethic, develop skills and enhance talents, and ultimately serve others as they follow their God-given calling in life.


Five Nights of Prayer

Would you make time to pray for us in October?  The first 5 nights in October we are encouraging our ministry partners to stand with us in fervent prayer for the following:

Night One:             FCA students have multiple needs based on life situations. Pray for perseverance as they each address challenges, reach for new life goals, and take guided steps that will change the trajectory of their lives.

a-girls-in-church-1Night Two:            Pray for FCA House parents who work daily with the ones in their care.  Eleven sets of parents from all around the country are called to meet the emotional, physical, social, and spiritual needs of young people.

Night Three:          FCA Family Ministry kicked-off last year by providing life-changing retreats, counseling, and resources for families of our young people.  Pray that God would use this targeted ministry to re-adjust marriages and families.

Night Four:            The FCA Life Coaching program pairs staff with students Boy prayinglooking to start the next phase of their lives.  These students need career direction, a clear understanding of their gifts and abilities, and someone to walk through goals to get them across the finish line and set-up for the next phase of their lives. Pray for over 60 adults who are serving as Life Coaches and the senior students being mentored by them.

Night Five:            Counseling plays a major role in our program to children and teenagers.  Some need a little, others need a lot, and a few none at all.  Pray that our counselors will have discernment and godly wisdom as they lead our youngsters through the bumps and bruises of their lives and allow healing to begin.

Harvest Festival 2018

What better way to celebrate the changing of the seasons than a good old-fashioned fall Harvest Festival! October 13, 2018 marks the 67th annual Harvest Festival sponsored by the French Camp Community Club. The fundraiser benefits the local churches as well as FCA.

2018 HarvestFest publicity

The main attraction is the Auction where you can bid on handmade items— arts, crafts, quilts, squirrel feeders, furniture, picture frames, and more. Shop the Country Store for jellies and jams, sweet treats, and other homemade and handmade goodies. The Historical District will be filled with traditional arts and crafts demonstrations. Enjoy watching the sorghum mill before buying some to take home. Children will delight in horseback and buggy rides and lots of good food will be available.

Pictured below are just a few auction items that have already been delivered. Keep watching out Facebook page, French Camp Academy One Fine Place, as new items arrive!


Bring your entire family and come join us for this fun day!

Gratitude Changes Everything



When new staff member Karen Leach learned part of her job duties would be supervising a daily work crew she was nervous. “I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I wanted to connect with the girls and help them connect with the Lord,” she says.

Karen came up with the idea to create each girl a gratitude journal. Each day when the students arrive at the Welcome Center, Karen greets them with a short devotional and time to write down the things they are grateful for that day. It’s become a great opportunity for the girls on Karen’s crew to refocus and move into their afternoon activities with an appreciative attitude and smiles on their faces.