Bennetts to host informational meeting for new Bible camp

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ridgley camp slated to open next summer

Ridge Top Bible Camp will be hosting an event on Nov. 7 to invite the public to tour the camp ground and hear about plans for a Christian-based camp for children.

The tour will take place from 3-5 p.m., and a meal will be served at 5:30 p.m. at Ridgley Baptist Church, which is adjacent to the campgrounds. The Flyin' Buzzards Bluegrass band will perform from 5-7 p.m.

At 7 p.m., an informational meeting will be held to share details and plans about the camp. Bill and Brenda Bennett, missionaries with InFaith, are organizing and directing the camp.

"We're hoping to hold camp next summer, and we want to be able to tell the community about our plans," Brenda Bennett said. "It's mainly an informational meeting, but also about sharing the needs we have to make the camp happen, and how the community can be involved."

The Bennetts have years of experience managing and building camps. The couple started and managed a camp in southwest Missouri in 1986 for 18 years (Camp Smokey) near Roaring River, and a camp in Tennessee.

InFaith asked them to reopen the camp in Tennessee, which they managed for 10 years.

"It's going strong," Bennett said. "We moved back to Missouri and this opportunity opened up, and we feel this is where God wants us to start this camp."

The couple is focused on serving youth in Barry County.

"We're just hoping to reach youth in the area," Bennett said. "Then, as the camp grows and expands, we will be doing more weekend events, such as more adult-type events. At the camp in Tennessee, we would do women's and men's retreats, outdoor retreats and quilting and scrapbooking retreats.[We also did] all-day children's or teen retreats. And, if the interest shows here, that's the kind of thing we will build toward. It depends on the confirmation we get from the community and what they want."

Bennett said right now, the camp has minimal facilities, but the goal is to build the property up, including the addition of an industrial kitchen, so that they can properly serve their young guests.

The camp, which sits on roughly 50 acres of land, will have a capacity of approximately 60 children.

"That's what we're going to shoot for the first year, and as finances are available we could expand later," Bennett said.

At the camp, children will learn about the Bible while enjoying a variety of activities."

"We'll have Bible class and chapel but also recreation. We try to alternative activities during the day. We also try to have a missionary speaker so they can be exposed to missionary opportunities if that is what God would have them do."

The camp will be available for very young children all the way up to high school.

"The day camp will be for the younger kids," Bennett said. "For middle-school- and high-school-aged children, the camp will [tentatively] be Monday through Saturday, then for fourth, fifth and sixth grades, we back off a day because they tend to get homesick. For second and third grades, two whole days and two half-days. We're trying to explore the school schedules because there's a certain amount of time to do things over the summer, and snow days affects the school schedule, too. Right now, we're just in a lot of planning stages and these are the kinds of things we plan to share with anyone that wants to come to the event."

The cost is still being determined but Bennett said it will most likely be under $100. The idea for the camp came about when the Bennetts met the landowners, Mike and Jeanie England, at a church event where they were speaking.

"They bought the land for the camp, and they weren't pursuing it to turn it into a camp," Bennett said. "It was the former His Children's Camp."

The Bennetts believe the meeting was no coincidence.

"We don't believe it just happened," Bennett said. "We feel like God put us together for a reason. They were just visiting that night. When they heard our testimony, and they felt like God wanted us to back their camp, so we got together and started talking and praying."

"We'd both like to see it continued in what it was supposed to be," Jeanie England said. "We'd like to see it become that again. And, that's pretty much up to the community because they have to give the support to the camp, there has to be people to do that. It would be a shame to let it go. There is an opportunity here. On Nov. 7, the camp will be opened up for the community to see it. It's really pretty right now with the trees and fall colors."

The Bennetts would like to talk to anyone who is interested in helping with activities at the camp, and said they are very thorough on who they hire.

"One of our highest goals is to make sure our campers are safe," Bennett said. "There's an application process and background check.

Bennett said children who attend the camp will benefit from the experience and enjoy it.

"They will have the opportunity to be with other children, do activities, learn more about God and the Bible, and be in a place where they are safe, loved and cared for," she said. "As long as we have room, our goal is to welcome anyone that wants to come."

For more information about the event or camp, people may call Bill or Brenda Bennett at 423-912-8333, or visit their website at: www.ridgetopbiblecamp.org.

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