Camp Joy to get a makeover

Camp Joy to get a makeover

April 28th, 2012 by Adam Poulisse in News

Kabari Ledgester, left, Channetta Newby, center, and Cory Stafford, campus pastor of Camp Joy, listen to a speaker in the main building of the camp in Harrison during a news conference on Friday announcing a month of service to help rebuild the camp, which was damaged by the March 2 tornado.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

In 1946, former Highland Park Baptist Church pastor Dr. Lee Roberson founded Camp Joy on the principle that the greatest need for a young person is Jesus Christ.

But on March 2, a tornado hit the Harrison area, destroying the camp's tabernacle and 5,000-square-foot dormitory. Somehow, the multipurpose building -- recently remodeled with a skating area -- and cafeteria were left untouched, camp director Tim Walterbach said.

It was by the "hand of God" that this happened because the tabernacle and dormitory needed remodeling anyway, Walterbach said.

"The dorm was so bad that only the linoleum was holding it up in certain parts," he said. "I prayed about what could be done with those buildings, and the very next week, God took care of the problem."

Now, Camp Joy has initiated Extreme Camp Makeover. Not only will thousands of volunteers rebuild the tabernacle and the dormitory using community donations, but efforts also will be made to build a new pavilion, remodel the snack shack and camp office, and spruce up the landscape.

The Covenant Values Foundation and Vision Homes will help oversee the makeover.

Craig Smith and Jason Willard co-own Vision Homes.

"We're going to help in leading this and putting it all together," Smith said. "We're going to be in an advisement role."

Vision Homes will oversee the scheduling of the makeover, which is an accelerated process so the camp will be back up and running for kids in the summer, Smith said.

One thing the makeover will accomplish is a camp that's "beyond ADA [American Disabilities Act] approved," Walterbach said.

"If God built this camp, he'd want it to be accessible to everyone," he said.