Camp History - New Bible Camp

Two years later, the front page headline of the Christian Caller was NEW BIBLE CAMP.  The story told how a Madison member had discovered an abandoned and dilapidated old camp on El Dorado Springs Road in Robertson County that had once been a fashionable health spa operated by members of the Jewish faith.  It was known simply as El Dorado Springs because of its numerous mineral and sulphur water springs.  By now, all of the buildings were in disrepair and showing the ravages of wind and weather.  The trails had been reclaimed by nature and grown over with bushes, briers, and small trees, while the lake that was fed by a clear stream held back by a stone dam, was covered with algae.  But when Ira North and that (at that time) unnamed Madison member, clawed their way through the briers and brambles, they became very excited as they envisioned what the rundown camp couldbecome with the help of Almighty God (just as Dr. North and Borum McPherson would a few years later be able to see through the thick woods on Miss Opha Bixler’s farm and picture Madison Childrens’ Home).  Another Madison member bought the property and leased it to the church for one dollar a year with the sipulation that his name never be made public.  Madison had the option to buy it at any time.

 

We can now release the names of those two Madison members who were not named in the 1958 story in the Christian Caller.  The member who found old camp was Borum McPherson, a man of tremendous vision who along with his wife Amelia was part of the group of six families who left Edenwold and started the Madison Church of Christ in 1934.  A few years later, he would show Dr.  North that wooded area on Miss Opha’s farm and share his vision of cottages for homeless children being built on that property.  The anonymous brother who paid for the abandoned camp was Joe Corley (at that time a successful young business man), who said that he had about $14,000 available and could not think of a better use for it than to buy a camp for Madison’s children.  He later donated the camp to the congregation;

 

Once again, Ira North put his vision into the work shoes of the Madison family.  The call went out for workers in that April 1958 issue of the Caller, with each of Madison’s 40 zones being challenged to provide volunteer labor.  Every Saturday at El Dorado Springs was a beehive of activity.  The 12 delapidated buildings included several frame cabins with sleeping porches, with a central room and fireplace in each one, an administration building, a dining hall/kitchen, and bathhouses.  All of the buildings were cleaned and remodeled from top to bottom, inside and out, while the algae were cleaned from the lake that was drained, refilled with water, and stocked with fish.  New construction included a swimming pool and athletic fields.

 

“The result,” wrote Sam McPherson in an April 1966 feature story in the Nashville Banner,“has been a camp considered priceless in the church’s youth program.”

 

Madison’s new Bible Camp was named Valley View by Ira North because it was       V-shaped and located in a beautiful valley.  It opened in the summer of 1958, and   these 32 acres provided Christian camping for Madison’s boys and girls every summer until 1972.

 

The camp was supported by special contribution taken one time each year.  Dr. North explained it like this in that 1966 Nashville Banner story.  “We didn’t have any money in the treasury to devote to the camp so the elders gave us permission to pass the basket one time each year after the regular contribution was taken.  And we always get what we ask for.  Many times we ask for $2,500 and get $2,650.  But I pad that a little bit through what I call my ‘secret dozen’.  Each year I write about 12 men in this church and ask them to drop a $100 bill in the camp contribution.”

 

McPherson, the son of Borum and Amelia McPherson and an award-winning

Banner reporter, explained in the 1966 story that Dr. North took great pains to emphasize his deep conviction that the camp was important.

 

“Now this camp is absolutely out of this world,” he said.  “If we don’t take care of our young people here, the time will come when we can’t have a children’s home or anything else.  The camp is just a vital investment in youth.  It is our best opportunity to teach children in surroundings that proclaim the glory of God through nature.”