“A truly sacred place where encounters will last a lifetime.”
History of Camp Wesley Pines
1953 – The Mississippi Conference established a Youth Camp Committee for the purpose of building a camp and raising financial support.
1954 – Throughout the conference year, the Youth Camp Committee searched for a suitable site and visited existing camps. No progress was made on fundraising because the capital campaign for the Millsaps College overshadowed their efforts.
1955 – Some opportunities to buy land were considered by the Youth Camp Committee, but with no funds available they decided to seek land that could be donated. As Annual Conference closed, an opportunity was developing in Copiah County with “J. Durr Wise & Associates.”
1956 – “J. Durr Wise & Associates” offered to provide the money for one of two tracts of land located in Copiah County. A Board of Trustees was formed to receive property with the following members: J.M. Ewing, B.M. Stevens, T.J. Luke, W.D. Myres, J.K. Milner, J.J. Nosser, and J. Durr Wise. (Wise and Nosser lived in Copiah County.)
The Board of Evangelism scheduled two Evangelistic Youth Camps at state parks in July: (1) Hattiesburg, Seashore, and Brookhaven Districts at Lake Shelby State Park (now Paul B. Johnson) near Hattiesburg; and (2) Meridian, Jackson, and Vicksburg Districts at Leroy Percy State Park near Hollandale.
1957 – For reasons not disclosed in the records, the Youth Camp Committee did not receive either of the Copiah County choices offered in 1956.
During 1957, “J. Durr Wise & Associates” offered a third site for consideration located on a private fishing lake named “Lake Copiah” that was being developed at the time.
The Board of Evangelism scheduled two Evangelistic Youth Camps in July at Lake Shelby and Leroy Percy State Park
George Lumsden replaced J.M. Ewing on the Board of Trustees.
A request was made for $10,000 from the World Service Commission.
1958 – On June 7, 1958, the Trustees of the Conference Youth Camp purchased from the Copiah Development Cooperation 50 acres of land located on Lake Copiah. Trustees named in the deed were J.D. Wise (Hazlehurst), George Lumsden (Brookhaven), B.M. Stevens (Richton), T.J. Luke (Jackson), J.K. Milner (Gulfport), W.D. Myers (Philadelphia), and J.J. Nossler (Hazlehurst).
Approval was given for a land swap with the Long family of two eight-acre tracts with no money involved for the exchange.
A Conference wide campaign to raise $100,000 for camp construction was announced.
The Board of Evangelism scheduled two Evangelistic Youth Camps in July at Lake Shelby State Park for all six districts.
1959 – Various efforts to organize fundraising continued with little success. Other actions included forming:
- A personnel committee to secure a camp director with the understanding that the director would be appointed to the Gallman Charge while overseeing construction and that the camp would pay a portion of salaries and expenses.
- A property management committee composed of R.I. Moore, Sr., J.D. Wise, R.C. Stockett, Dan Ireland, and J.R. Cameron.
A brochure was developed for promotional purposes.
J. Roger Cameron received a dual appointment as Gallman pastor and Youth Camp Director for the new conference year.
1960 – Durr Wise became chairman of both the Board of Trustees and the Property Management Committee.
A gravel road was completed with dirt moving done for free and gravel provided at a special consideration.
Construction began on three buildings. The Tabernacle was completed in the summer of 1960, but there are no records on the progress of the other two buildings.
Other improvements included:
- An athletic field
- A water well and storage tank
- Installation of power lines
- Street lights that were donated
- Gift of four picnic tables by Hazlehurst Vocational Class
- A pavilion and two classrooms, one of which was donated by the Vicksburg District MYF
- 30 acres of underbrush cleared by volunteers and day laborers
- Beach clean up and sanding
- Acquisition of a truck, tractor, and tools
A Special Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference met at the Tabernacle on October 12, 1960 and authorized up to $125,000 of indebtedness for the purpose of finishing the camp. ($125,000 in 1960 has the spending power of about $1,000,000 in 2020.)
Two Board of Evangelism’s Evangelistic Youth Camps were held in July at Lake Shelby State Park.
Various adult, youth, and children’s groups visited the camp for picnics, day camps, and Vacation Bible schools.
A total of nearly 600 youth cleaned underbrush at two workdays.
In addition to private gifts, no less than $37,000 of apportionment payments were made by the conference. ($37,000 in 1960 has the spending power of $324,000 in 2020.)
The conference authorized the sell or trade of 8 acres of land given by the Gabriel family in 1958 that did not adjoin the camp property.
1961 – Improvements continued through the fall of 1960 and the winter of 1961. A contractor completed construction of all remaining buildings between December and April. The buildings ready for occupancy were the Tabernacle (1960), two classroom shelters, four dormitories, administration building, dining hall/kitchen and superintendent’s home.
No records exist on the total construction cost, but in an article in The Meteor, dated March 2, 1961, Roger Cameron was quoted as saying it was over $200,000.
The first overnight event was the Methodist Youth Conference on May 5-6 with 149 in attendance.
Although no records exist on attendance the first year, the same newspaper article noted above stated that Roger Cameron expected over 1,000 youth during the first season scheduled for June 17 – August 18.
“Camp Wesley Pines is committed to continuing the ministry of Christ by serving the United Methodist Church and by providing a Christian environment for people of all ages amidst the beauty and grandeur of God’s creation.”