Camp History - First Campers

Madison’s very first campers were  70 girls in grades 4-6, and a total of 250 Madison kids attended the four sessions directed by Ira and Avon North, assisted by Charles and Madge Lewis.  The Lewises had just arrived at Madison a month earlier for Claude to join the staff as educational director,  song leader, and assistant preacher.

Serving as camp counselors for that first year of Madison Bible Camp were Mrs. Weaver, Helen Chilton, Claudette Coleman, Janet Chilton, Gail Slaughter, Mrs. Bill Brown, Marjorie Parrish, Robert Wood, Donnell Castleman, Brother Stout, Glenn Burton, Harold Cox, Edgar Soapes, and Bill Brown.  Mrs. Gregory and Mrs. Soapes assisted Avon North and Madge Lewis.  Mrs. Kirk, supervisor of the cafeteria at Amqui School, was in charge of the cafeteria.

If you had visited Madison’s first Bible camp in August 1956, you would have reached it by driving up the mountain on a winding gravel road.  As soon as you entered the camp, the first thing you would have seen would have been a little barn identified by the sign, “Short Mountain Stables.”  Looking inside, you would have seen four of Dr. North’s horses.  On the right would have been Billy, a gentlebut rather contrary bay horse nicknamed “Old Country” by the campers.   In the next stable was Smoky, a slick black horse described as “gentle but full of pep.”  You would have seen the pride of Short Mountain in the last stable on the right – Gypsy, a beautiful Tennessee Walking Horse.   All by herself on the other side of the barn was another beautiful mare named Star, a western horse with such a long stride the other horses had a hard time keeping up with her.

As you continued to drive around the mountain and through the Madison camp, you would have enjoyed breathtaking views of the Middle Tennessee scenery from the highest mountain in Middle Tennessee.  The next building would have been a lovely little cabin known as the Main Lodge, which housed the dining hall, recreation room, and the kitchen.

Retracing your drive back toward the Main Lodge, you would have looked across at Cricket Lodge with rooms named for Indian princesses: White   Cloud, Red Feather, and Pocahontas.   To the right of Cricket Lodge was the Happy Trails Riding Ring (erected by Madison).   The ball field and archery range were close by.

Each day and evening were packed with thrilling adventures, as shown in the daily schedule:

6:30   Whistle blows – time to get up

7:30   Breakfast at main lodge

8:00   Bible classes

8:40  Assemble for chapel on the porch

9:15   Swimming at a site off the mountain

12:30Lunch at the Main Lodge

1:30   Rest period

2:30   Organized recreation (horseback riding, archery, shuffleboard, ping-pong,

          Volleyball, badminton, horseshoes

5:00   Organized hiking

5:30   Supper at the Main Lodge

6:15   Hike up the mountain      

6:45  Evening worship at sunset

8:00   Bonfire party on top of the mountain (first night)

          Picnic at the big spring on the other side of the mountain (second night)

          Weiner roast on top of the mountain followed by Stunt Night (third night)

9:00   Whistle blows – time to go to bed

At the end of the four sessions, the first year of camping at Madison was summed up by Dr. North in the Caller:   “The Bible classes under the trees, the chapel service with preaching by Brother Lewis, and the evening service around the campfire have all been exceedingly inspirational.  In the tents, the older boys and girls have enjoyed the devotionals by lantern light.   The campers in cricket Lodge   have gathered around the fireplace and enjoyed the devotional before retiring.  It certainly increases the faith of any person, young or old, to see the beauties of nature that Almighty God has prepared.”

 

And that is the way it was during the first year of Madison Bible Camp on Short Mountain.