Our History

Central Baptist Youth Camp came into being 1961 as a ministry of Central Baptist Church. 

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Dr. Adams learned that the Bar Mell Dude Ranch, located in Lake County, Florida (about 10 miles west of Deland) was for sale. The ranch contained 116 acres, mostly woodlands with lake front footage, two bunk houses, a mess hall and a house. The Girl Scouts had failed in an attempt to purchase this site. “Doc” Adams lobbied aggressively for Central to purchase the ranch for a church camp and recreation area.
 
Central’s Pastor, Hal Marchman (whom Doc Adams called: Mr. Preacher Man) and the church liked the proposal, but some thought the financial burden would be too great for the church in those early, lean years. Central’s growth was not to be denied, the camp site was purchased from the “Stone Lake Trust” of Boston, Massachusetts for $30,000.00 with $3,000.00 at closing and $3,000.00 per year at 4% interest payable on June first. 
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In the beginning Pastor Hal Marchman doubled as camp director utilizing Elliott Chestnut as camp committee chairman. Bob Trumbull and Bob Beetem were subsequent camp committee chairmen. Glen Jones kept the camp fleet afloat. 
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Soon a problem arose: the bunk houses slept more campers than the restrooms could accommodate. A larger restroom with two counselors’ rooms were built on the back of each bunk house. Everett “Red” McNiel, Jim Hughes and Tarplin Smith helped Louie Free to erect those additions. 
Original Cabins:
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Also, there was no place for the younger children to swim. A tear drop shaped swimming pool was constructed between the mess hall and Cow Pens Lake. Many of our church members and friends worked hard to complete both projects. J.T. Strickland spearheaded the pool project utilizing his bowling alley construction group. We are told that J.T. made good use of youths George Kissam and Billy Rippey as pool excavators. 
The baseball field was made possible by Kenny Clontz and other church teens. While burning trash, they accidentally ignited the nearby woods. After the fire was extinguished by the local fire department, it was concluded that a baseball field on the burned out area would be a good idea.
“Baseball”/Athletic Field:
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In 1970, the six room counselor building (called the motel) was built, just north of the mess hall. About five years later, to overcome a leaky, flat roof, an “A” frame roof was added with sufficient overhang on the west side to act as a porch cover over the walkway. Elliott Chestnut led this project. 

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In 1980 the multi-use chapel and crafts building was built. Associate Pastor, Doug Harrell made many trips to the Lake County Engineering Department in Tavares to finalize the building permit. Bill Russell and Harold Hess plus many church members helped in completing this building.

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During 1985, the present Olympic style swimming pool was built. It is 70 feet long by 30 feet wide and holds 93,000 gallons of water. The pool water is filtered via recycling through bellows shaped filters that are covered with cloth and diatomaceous earth.

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Kenny Clontz either supervised or performed the electrical work for the pool project.
 
The camp was operated as a “not for profit” corporation titled “Central Baptist Youth Camp, Inc.” from September 10, 1987 until December 31, 1991. This was an attempt to protect the church from possible liabilities at camp. Complete separation from the church was never achieved.
 
By 1995 with camp rentals dwindling, a study concluded that the boys and the girls bunk houses were too outdated, not structurally sound, not handicap friendly, and generally unsafe. During 1996 the church approved a fund raising project called “Project Sonshine” for general church improvements, which included the camp. Again Centrals’ growth was not to be denied. Significant funds from outside the church were donated.

The camp committee, with Wayne Beighle as consultant, chose from three floor plan proposals made by Les Burdette. After approval by the church, Leete and Leete, Architects provided finalized and certified drawings as a donation to the church.
 
Wayne Beighle, Jim Hitson and Les Burdette began weekly trips to the Lake County Planning and Engineering Departments. Finally after three months, required permits for the two bunk houses were issued in March 21, 1997. Wayne Beighle and his team completed the two bunk houses on June 15, 1997. Finished just in time for our scheduled campers. The CBS’ers made and installed draperies for both bunk houses. Total budgeted amount: $60,000.00 each, with actual expenditures of $58,000.00 each!
New Campers Cabins:
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The boys bunk house was dedicated on September 1, 1997 with a bronze plaque inscribed, “In memory of Bill and Annie B. France” presented by NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation.
 
The girls bunk house was dedicated on September 1, 1997 with a bronze plaque inscribed, “Given by Louise Eller Montague”.
 
During the early part of 1998 the camp mess hall and it’s kitchen renovation was completed. Led by Les Burdette and Ron Moore (camp caretaker), plus a group from the church installed siding, roof, windows and doors throughout the mess hall. Bob Rhinehart and Charlie Sapp were painters.
Original Mess Hall:
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New Mess Hall:
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Kitchen in Mess Hall:
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In the same period of time, the kitchen was retrofitted with: wall paneling, ceramic tile floors, stainless steel refrigerator, freezer, dish washer, hot table, tables, sinks and cabinets. New electrical and plumbing were installed as required, plus water treatment equipment. This state of the art food preparation center was dedicated with a bronze plaque inscribed, “In memory of Jerry Coble” on November 15, 1998 and was made possible by gifts from Jerry’s family and friends.
Also, early in 1998, the Pavilion was completed. Tommy Adams designed and built the pavilion, assisted by two of his construction associates. They donated the cost of their labor. This project was counseled by Gene Gibson. The pavilion was dedicated with a bronze plaque inscribed “In loving memory of Keith Forest Gibson” on November 15, 1998 and was made possible with gifts from his family and friends.
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And just to the side of the Pavilion is a GREAT spot for SLIP ‘n SLIDE!
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Later in 1998 the Gazebo, near the boat dock, was built with mostly surplus materials from the pavilion by Tommy Adams and associates.
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In April 1999 the shore line beside the dock was graded and filled with white sand by Tom Self, of Self Trucking, and Self Trucking employees. Tom Self and Amy Mecklem supervised.
 
The camp committee chairmen for the first thirty-eight years of operation were: Elliott Chestnut, Bob Trumbull, Bob Beetem, Gene Gibson, Bill Bethea and presently, Les Burdette.
 
Camp caretakers were: Ernie Hafling, John Payne, Bill Toboin, Bill Schouse, Bill Kiel and presently, Ron Moore. Les Burdette, Tommy Adams, Daniel Cone, Jim Faires, George Kissam, Dot Lusson, Marty Petty and Tim Self were camp committee leaders and workers.
 
We are grateful to all of those who helped make Central’s Camp Ministry a success and to those that supplied information for this document.

 

Respectfully submitted by: Les Burdette, June 1999
(and typed for this BLOG by: Vicky Jackson, 2010)
(UPDATED in June 2014: Tim Lauxman)

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