History of Camp Hope

//History of Camp Hope
History of Camp Hope 2017-10-22T10:03:31+00:00

What, I ask you, “as a personal friend” (can you remember singing a song with “I ask you now as a personal friend what does Tennessee” during church camp?) does a Byrd and pig have to do with “Hope”

Camp Hope??? If you don’t already know, read on . . .

Much of this interesting information comes directly from Allegheny Passage, so if you have never read this book in entirety, the portions below taken from Emmert Bittinger’s history should prove to be quite a story. How the second Camp in our West Marva District was born, grew and continues to grow, shows, if there are willing volunteers, even with limited funds, dreams can become reality.

Through the efforts of a summer pastor, Rev. Robert Bryd and his wife Doris who served the Glady congregation in 1934, “Camp Hope” became a reality—but not without plenty of hard physical work. “This young couple had attended Camp Bethel near Troutville, VA the year before and were inspired by their experience and resolved to “establish a camp in the Second District of West Virginia.” They presented their ideas to the District Conference meeting in August 1934 at Glady and those delegates approved a plan to begin a camping program.” … (Several quotes from Allegheny Passage pgs. 780-782 will follow in this article.)…”

Doris Byrd owned a pig which she sold when her husband decided to attend Daleville College. The money from the sale of the pig was used to purchase three acres of land in Upshur County, WV. … After the District Conference approved the idea of a camp, the Byrd’s offered the land to the District. A committee was appointed to examine the land and approved it for a camp.” … “In 1935 Robert Byrd moved to the Beans Chapel congregation with his wife, where he served as pastor but also became one of the Second

District’s earliest ‘field men.’ … “The Byrds stayed in the District until 1944, serving as camp promoters and managers but toiling to improve the facility all those years

.” … Thus, thanks to a pig … “Camp Hope” was born and you see the role of the Byrd(s).

This was undeveloped property and required a tremendous amount of labor. … “The first step was to clear sufficient land to provide space for some tents, two cabins, a large building which was to contain bunks and a few other facilities. Robert & Doris Byrd had a vision and tirelessly donated their efforts and time so the camp could progress. … “Robert developed a unique way of announcing his arrival at the work scene. Before descending into the little cove, he would blow a tune on his trumpet; thus announcing to the community that he was there and it was time for them to come and help with the work.” (“Actually, later in life Rev. Byrd wrote a story of his and his wife’s ministry with the title The Trumpet Sounds.”)

“During the first season there was no kitchen and cooking was done over an open fire. The name of the camp was chosen by means of a District contest. … “Those who diligently worked by the sweat of their brows, many local persons and “friends from Virginia” helped in many ways.” … “No finance report was required as scarcely any funds were expended. For example, food for the Camp was donated and brought by campers and leaders. Remember these were the Depression years and few families had money for anything other than life’s necessities.]

Where there is a will, there is a way with God as your guide …completely fits the description, as “Camp Hope” became a reality. This sounds shocking in today’s world but …”camper fees were paid in kind, usually with food, dried or canned, which was brought in. Look at this 1947 listing which accompanied the advertisement for Campers:

…” stated amounts were assigned a monetary value, for example: 1 chicken= 70 cents, 1 dozen cookies=14 cents, 3 carrots=3 cents, 2 onions=3 cents, 2 beets= 2 cents, one head of cabbage=8 cents. Stop and consider if campers in 2014 would have relished menus with these ingredients, rather than pizza and hot dogs.” …

“The first Camp, as reported in Allegheny Passage page 781, registered forty campers, Brethren as well as non-Brethren families also attended the evening vespers and camp fires in large numbers. As idyllic as this “story of Camp Hope sounds … there were conservative Brethren who objected to the use of secular songs at Campfires and to the fact … campers had to sleep in the cabins on the grounds rather than return home.” …

…”By 1944 Norman Seese who had succeeded Robert Byrd as field man and was also an advocate of camping, made a study of the conditions and needs of Camp Hope. Because of the rapidly decaying buildings and off center location, a decision was made to abandon the Camp and rent the Barbour County 4H facility.” …

…”Again, Second District of WV Conference in 1952 received a request to take immediate steps toward developing their own Camp site.” … “When the Committee submitted its report in 1953 recommended their District establish a new Camp Hope on land three miles north of Belington which had been given by T. Ford Valentine and his wife.” …

On page 782 we read …”1953-54 was a time of preparing and building of the new Camp Hope… The expense report of 1954 showed $564.66 had been spent for building supplies.” …”By opening time the first year, two buildings, a bunkhouse and a dining hall were in place. Since the boys did not have a bunkhouse, they slept in the attic of the dining room. A second bunkhouse, a shower house and cooks quarters were added later. … The Camp program operated during the summer of 1953 with 54 campers and 12 leaders. …By 1973 the facilities, including an assembly building, cottages made a total of seven buildings. It was in October 1988 Camp Trustees made plans for a major new building to serve as dining room and assembly hall.”

In “The Story of Brethren Camping Kum Ba Yah” by Linda Logan on page 42 the chapter on “Critters at Camps”vacross our nation … this story is related … “when the first (Camp Hope) campsite was abandoned in 1944 the window screens were saved and stored, later these were re-used in construction of the dining hall. The record states that with the new camp barely finished in time for camp that summer, the boys slept in the dining hall attic, leaving the new boys cabin to the girls. That cabin, however, still lacked a door so a sheet was hung. The report doesn’t say what happened that night in the cabin housing the girls—but it does report that a carpenter came to camp the very next day to hang a door to keep the animals out.” …

Doug Mills shares some of the changes and how the facilities have been upgraded during the past fifteen years. After a request was brought to District Conference for special financing for this Camp, the West Marva churches responded and today it has become a comfortable facility. Currently the camp consists of a concrete block dining hall with fully equipped kitchen (ca. 50×30 ft.) A game room above the dining hall has a window air conditioner for comfortable freetime recreational use. The boys bunkhouse has 24 bunks, the girls bunkhouse has 26 bunks; each bunkhouse has an attached showerhouse and restrooms. This is an improvement over the original restrooms and shower houses which were located several yards from the bunkhouses.

From the money that came in as a result of the District’s response to the needs at

Camp Hope, there is a 40 x 30 ft. open pavilion, a Noah’s Ark playground with slide and four swings, another youth swing set with 6 swings, volleyball and basketball courts and a soft ball field. Also, lighting in both bunkhouses and craft hall have been improved. The craft hall and two storage buildings round out this campus. Doug shares about a young boy attending and commenting during Vespers, …” I hope there is a Camp Hope in Heaven!”

Doug also observed, “With all these improvements Camp Hope retains its ‘flavor’—it is still a homey, rustic church camp which holds unbelievable memories. Some parents who now bring their children to Camp were campers when they were young. “ Camp Hope continues to be used for church picnics, retreats, work camps and reunions.

Wouldn’t Robert and Doris Byrd be pleased to know Camp Hope has grown and become the comfortable camping site where Christians reach out to meet the needs of the community and area?