Our Story is HIStory timeline PC.pdf

The Legacy of Springs of Life Camp

Coming Soon: Springs of Life Camp's: Our story is HIS-tory

The telling of God's over-arching story of redemption through the power and platform of Springs of Life Camp in Patrick Springs, VA.

Thank you to many who continue to help us piece together HIS-tory here in Patrick Springs, Va!

Special Credits: The Works of Beverly Belcher Woody; Thomas D. Perry; The Enterprise (Voice of the People of Patrick County); Charlie Bowman; Richard Shelton and the multitudes of Springs of Life Bible Camping Alumni who continue to engage in helping us in this restoration venture!

We hope you enjoy the following excerpts for this project in process!

Most who remember "Summer Camp" look-back at not just a simpler time and place, but a significant part of personal history surrounded by friends and family. A common experience threaded throughout multitudes of childhood stories, the opportunity to go to Patrick Springs for Summer Camp meant an adventure we were certain to remember! Unbeknownst to us as we splashed in the creek, we were somehow learning life-lessons that would usher us into adulthood on a backdrop that centered around developing a relationship with Jesus Christ.

And that is where our story begins...

Just a few years before the War Between the States, God was heavy at work in the lives of Methodist Minister Beverly A. Davis and his wife Mary. Having a heart for discipleship and a passion for education, the Davis family had a yearning to launch the very first female Bible college in the South. After much prayer and careful deliberation, they purchased an old plantation home with the date 1790 carved high in the chimney of the structure positioned on 200 acres of land in now, Patrick Springs, VA.; and, on July 19, 1860 commenced the first session of the “Patrick Springs Female College”.

Managing to keep the college open throughout the Civil War, by 1870 ownership changed hands from the Davis family to beloved Colonel William H. Werth (of the 45th VA. Calvary) who had served on staff at the college while overseeing cannonball production at the iron-ore mine at now, Fairy Stone State Park. Sadly, when Col. Werth passed away in 1872, the vision to maintain “Patrick Springs Female College” died with him, and the halls went silent for nearly 2 decades before being purchased by William Hughes Clark for a new business venture.

Even at the inception of ministry-work in Patrick Springs, the world was presenting catastrophic distractions that shaped not only the history of our nation but sets the general theme of stories passed down for generations. As the culture was changing all around us, the natural springs were beginning to overtake parts of the property where legend tells of the days when Pamunky and Algonquin Indian tribes brought their braves to be healed by the iron waters after warfare. A new narrative was again being written at the former “Spabrook Station” region of Patrick County.

By 1890 the property was converted into the Patrick Springs Mineral Springs Hotel and Resort where even today we hear stories from “Hotel Hill” from long ago.

People would travel for days to experience the healing qualities of the natural springs and to enjoy the facility boasting an Olympic-sized swimming pool, dance hall, bowling alley, and luxurious meeting spaces and bedrooms all served with “old-fashioned” hospitality. During its days in operation, the hotel changed hands several times until its closure around WWII due to wartime shortages of personnel and supplies.

A hotspot during the height of prohibition in Southwest-Virginia, Patrick Springs and the “Mile-Straights” became almost as iconic for its deep history in drag-racing. The 70-year history of the famous “Patrick Springs Mineral Springs Hotel and Resort” are full of stories that connect families that span generations.

Then tragically on January 16th, 1954, fire was discovered in the 164-year-old structure and in a matter of minutes, the grand hotel was fully engulfed and only the summer cottages and nearby outbuildings were saved. Over the next few years ownership again changed several times attempting to redevelop the “old” Patrick Springs Hotel leading to its immanent closure in 1963.

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Even with a reputation as an old defunct hotel in a community that was building its own identity, God was heavy at work on a storyboard that threads together a network of families that have scattered all over the world who unknowingly work together in unison to impact lives for one purpose; “to make, equip and mobilize Disciples of Jesus Christ” as laid out in Matthew 28.

The exact same passage of scripture that likely compelled Reverend and Mrs. Davis to pray over Patrick Springs over a century prior.

In late 1963 however, Reverend Burl and his wife Dolly Washburn purchased the defunct mountain resort with funds raised as they presented across 3 states, the vision to launch an all-new discipleship concept: Summer Bible Camping Ministry. The Washburn’s prayers revolved around God’s creation and temporarily removing children and families away from the distractions of everyday living to guide them to a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ.

Over the next 10 years, the Washburn’s traveled throughout a network of churches promoting the idea of bringing together youth groups from various communities to experience “the people of the Church” from a different perspective. During the summer, “Wash” and Ms. Dolly led summer missions teams to operate week-long Bible Camping programs. Each week typically consisted of 6-10 local churches from across VA, NC, and WV who missionally supported the Camp. Each collaboration brought its own custom program centered around sound biblical teaching on a backdrop of group led games and activities. While the staff in Patrick Springs provided the highest quality food along with superior service, our goal was to minimize as many distractions as possible so that counselors and program coordinators had the best opportunity to serve the families that came to “Camp”.


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This new discipleship platform, the “Patrick Springs Bible Conference” served countless lives who were introduced to a lifetime of service to the mission of “the Church” (the universal collection of “Believers”; or The Body of Christ). By the early 1970’s the Washburn’s sensed the Lord’s redirection into another area of ministry and at that realization, a board of advisers was formed out of 12 Baptist churches who were already overseeing some of the work in Patrick Springs.

In September of 1973, this board agreed to incorporate and rename the ministry to “Springs of Life Camp and Retreat” and the balls were set in motion to “provide a safe place that is separated from everyday distraction to allow a vertical focus of glorifying God”.

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Over the next 50 years, multitudes of people traveled to experience Bible Camping Ministry in Patrick Springs, VA. Serving up to 13 weeks of Camp with some summers averaging nearly 200 youth every week.

Each ministry season containing incredible stories of God's redeeming love for families through His people.

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Corporately speaking however, we goaled to impress the children by the hundreds while the world and culture around us was changing at an incredibly fast pace. At the same time, the Church was being ripped apart as families began shifting their identity towards their own preference of things like music, physical appearance, printed resources, social status, contemporary or traditional, etc...

With the common struggles of life outweighing the passion for our purpose, our organizations' vision eventually began to fizzle out. Exposing another reality in the culture of the Church: damaged relationships left unresolved allows bitterness to penetrate and impact even the most intimate areas of our lives.

In other words, we under estimated the power of "Church Hurt".

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Springs of Life Camp's: Our story is HIS-tory:

The story of Springs of Life Camp tells an over-arching story of a creator who pursues us. One with a love so great that He gave us Jesus as the literal sacrifice for our separation from Him and ultimately all things good. More so, Jesus Christ willingly took on the shame of each person who identifies with a misapplied life and restores us back to our own purpose in the overall telling of God’s story of redemption.

When our root identity is in anything other than Christ, our ability to understand our purpose as His followers is misled by our own emotions and abilities...

"I am an intentional Disciple of Jesus Christ, one of His Ambassadors. My life is the platform that God has created to lead people to the light found only in Him..."

- Springs of Life Camp Alumni Project

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restoring the reputation of the ministry, reconditioning the facilities to be safe and appealing, and Revitalizing Springs of Life Camp's ability to serve in the Mission of the Church: To make, mobilize, and Equip Disciples of Jesus Christ.

Springs of Life Camp is uniquely structured to cater to programs of many shapes and sizes. Combine our staff with your staff to create an unforgettable experience for campers and staffers alike!

"Providing a safe place, separated from everyday distraction with a vertical focus of glorifying God."