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News for the week of Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Operating Camps/Retreat Centers

By Connie Davis Bushey

7/1/2014

news editor, Baptist and Reflector

BRENTWOOD — Besides the two Baptist camps/conference centers being operated by the Tennessee Baptist Convention in Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee, seven Baptist associations own and operate camps/retreat centers, and a former association camp bought by a Baptist church in Tennessee, now a separate ministry, is available.

The TBC camps are Linden Valley Baptist Conference Center, Linden, and Carson Springs Baptist Conference Center, Newport. This summer Linden Valley is offering one week of youth camp, one four-day youth camp, and one week of children’s camp. Cost begins at $285 for youth camp and is $260 for the children’s camp. Carson Springs is the site of one mini-camp for children which costs $135. The TBC camps also host many church and association-directed camps, retreats, and other meetings.

Linden Valley and Carson Springs have lodges with motel-type rooms that sit on 250 acres and 150 acres respectively. Linden Valley has 40 motel-style rooms and Carson Springs has 36. Both of the conference centers can sleep a total of 400. Linden Valley has a ropes course and both have swimming pools. Linden Valley also is adjacent to a river.

The TBC camps are also used by Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes, based in Brentwood, for their two week-long Special Friends Camps for adults ages 20-80 with disabilities. The camps are mainly funded by the annual Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions of the TBC. The camps cost $295 per camper.

The seven association camps and former association camp are offering camp activities this summer in various ways and despite some struggles. The retreat center is only hosting groups. All of the camps and the retreat center are old — ranging from 66 years old. Of course, maintenance, updating, and security are issues. One camp was vandalized recently by robbers though it has a full-time caretaker who lives there.

Camp Smoky in Sevierville

Camp Smoky, which also is known as Camp Smoky Christian Retreat, is operated by Sevier County Baptist Association, based in Sevierville and can sleep 150 in facilities on 25 acres. It is the second largest of the association camps.

Camp Smoky is offering two weeks of mini day camps, a children’s camp, and a youth camp. The day camps are especially an outreach effort because they are for members of Boys and Girls Clubs, Inc. They are being led by a church in Alabama and churches in Kentucky. Those missions teams get to stay at camp for free, said Robert Nichols, DOM. They do provide their own food and cooks.

The children’s camp is being led by volunteers directed by Robin Jones of a local church and the youth camp by volunteers being directed by Donnie and Lisa Hatfield of Roaring Fork Baptist Church, Gatlinburg.

This year a special feature of the youth camp is that campers will include eight residents of a cottage of the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, Chattanooga. Their fees are being subsidized by the association. The camps cost $130.

Nichols hopes churches from Tennessee and other states will consider manning a week of day camps next year. They can stay for a very minimal cost. The camp also hopes groups will use the camp in other ways. The charge is $10-14 per person per night with the lowest price for missions teams. Groups inside the association can use it for $10 per person per night.

Nichols noted that the maintenance and updating has been an issue at Camp Smoky because some of the facilities are 60 years old. The camp once was a boarding high school. The association has been blessed as several staff positions, including the camp director, have changed and savings have been available for the maintenance and renovations. For instance, a swimming pool is being repaired.

One different aspect of this association’s ministry is that if the association ever ceases to use it for a Christian camp, it will return to the family which deeded it to the association. That factor and its age may have caused Baptists here to decide the camp is not worth the effort, said Nichols. Instead, he thinks Baptists here should enjoy the savings the association has been blessed with recently and continue to use it as it has been used for 50 years by the association for God’s glory, said Nichols.

“The opportunities these 60 churches have with the millions of people who come here to visit is great. We’re already involved in resort ministry and there’s a world of possibilities related to that. The camp can be part of that … ,” he added.

Copyright (c) 2014 Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention

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Visit Us at 3311 Camp Smoky Lane Sevierville, TN 37876

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