KINGSPORT—Camp Bays Mountain, a ministry of the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, is in the midst of construction to open this summer for kids across Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

This camp’s goal is to be a continuation of the Buffalo Mountain Camp that suffered extensive damage from flash floods and heavy rains that tore through the property in August 2012. Unfortunately, damages could not be repaired and the camp closed. In April 2014, it was determined the camping ministry must close for good. Buffalo Mountain Camp was founded by the United Methodist Church in 1949, but now the legacy will live on at their new location in Bays Mountain Park.

The Methodist Church bought the property from the Baptist Church April 2016. Within 10 months, through a capital fundraising campaign the camp has raised approximately $2.5 million of its projected $4.5 million.

To donate, go to the “Donate” tab on www.campbaysmountain.com, or to volunteer time at the camp look for opportunities under the “How You Can Help” tab.

Camp Bays Mountain will be opened to children in 1st-12th grades with day camps Monday through Friday, half week overnight camps, Monday through Wednesday for younger children and week overnight camps, Sunday through Friday, designed for older children who can stay away from home for a period of time.

“The camp is not only for United Methodist, but for any child in our area who would like to come,” said Camp Director Jeff Wadley. “

Activities offered this summer will include swimming, archery, crafts, large group games, hiking, offsite activities at Bays Mountain Park or area lakes and a climbing wall that was donated to Buffalo Mountain Camp by the family of the late Christopher King, a 10-year-old who passed away, but often enjoyed spending his summers at Buffalo Mountain Camp and had plans to attend the camp the following summer. The family and the community raised money to provide the camp with the climbing wall. There will be paintball slingshots, archery ring and volleyball court.

Each week, they have a minister come to the camp and teach. Thursday night they will be able to make a response of what camp has meant to them. This is the part of camp that Wadley said he is most looking forward to.

“Since we are a Christian, faith-based camp, we are asking kids to consider becoming a follower of Christ.”

According to Wadley, the camp intends to expand the camp activities starting Summer 2018. Some of the activities include another zip line, mountain biking trails, offsite backpacking trips, river trips down the Holston River, kayaking and much more.

This summer, the camp will be able to house 64 campers in a lodge with 48 beds and campsites for tents spread out across the property. Eventually the camp will be able to house 156 campers at a time.

Right now, Camp Bays Mountain is searching for 12 summer counselors who will lead from June 5-July 28. They need both male and female staffers with a “love for Jesus, love for kids, and love for outdoors.” The counselors will be asked to stay onsite the duration of the camp.

Staff training will be held the week before camp begins. Some staff will be asked to take lifeguard training and the rest will take CPR, First Aid and Wilderness first aid. An application can be found on their website under the “Summer Staff” tab.

Week One of camp begins June 5 and the last week will begin July 24. To sign children up, visit www.campbaysmountain.com and click the “Summer Camp 2017” tab. For more information about registration, call (423) 929-9037, or for additional questions, contact Jeff at jeffwadley@holston.org or 398-6272.

“This camp is a gift to our community,” said Wadley. “We are not asking anyone to support camp, the camp is here to support the community. We are gift to the community for the children of our region.”