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    ECU Supports Camp Bays Mountain

    August 28, 2017

    KINGSPORT — Through a lot of hard work and some generous donations, Camp Bays Mountain is coming together. And if all goes according to plan, the camp will start hosting weekend retreats this fall.

    After heavy rains and floodwaters caused major damage to Buffalo Mountain Camp in 2011, the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church decided to relocate the camp to Bays Mountain. The UMC purchased the old Sullivan Baptist Association retreat center last year and launched a $4.5 million capital campaign to expand and renovate the property.

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    Mary Boehms, development officer for Camp Bays Mountain, said the camp has raised $3.2 million toward its goal, with either money in hand or through pledges. One notable donation recently came from Eastman Credit Union to the tune of $100,000, which will allow the camp to complete its commercial kitchen.

    “Camp Bays Mountain is a gift for the region, and this gift from Eastman Credit Union is an investment in children,” said Rev. Jeff Wadley, executive director of Camp Bays Mountain.

    Plans for Camp Bays Mountain call for a renovated and furnished dining hall and kitchen, power lines placed underground, a new bath house and the construction of three cabins. Crews have already built a zero-entry swimming pool, several outdoor adventure areas (archery, low ropes challenge course), a campfire worship area and a woodshed.

    Boehms said the climbing tower has also been relocated from Johnson City to Kingsport.

    All of this work should be covered in the $4.5 million goal. A future phase will add three more cabins, a property manager’s residence and an activity bus, Boehms said.

    “We’re pleased with the progress, though the rain hindered us in the spring,” Boehms said. “We’ve had a lot of volunteer groups do work, building trails, picnic shelters and the campfire circle. We can’t wait to be open for retreat uses.”

    In addition to offering a faith-based camp for children and youth during the seven weeks of summer, Camp Bays Mountain will have a 36-bed retreat lodge with a kitchenette, meeting space, indoor restrooms and showers. The cabins will have modern amenities and comforts suitable for church groups, wedding parties, corporate retreats, Emmaus walks, scout troops or family reunions.

    Outdoors, the camp will offer the climbing tower, low-ropes challenge course, archery range, hiking trails, the zero-entry swimming pool and kayaking and canoeing.

    UMC officials are hoping to serve 1,000 kids each summer, along with other retreat opportunities, community events and outdoor activities. Officials estimate the camp has served nearly 40,000 campers over the decades.

    For more information on Camp Bays Mountain, call (423) 398-6272, or visit www.campbaysmountain.com.

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