Deed to Lakeview Presented to Conference--June 11, 1947
The Texas Annual Conference was a relative latecomer in obtaining and developing a conference encampment. Although there were scores of camp grounds scattered across the conference in the 19th century, the first encampment for youth camping was not a conference institution. Epworth-by-the-Sea, was a project of the statewide Epworth League. That facility, near Corpus Christi, operated from 1905-1915. It was sold and another camp, near Port O'Connor operated from 1915 to its destruction by a hurricane in 1919.
The torch of camping was then passed to the annual conferences. The West Texas (now Southwest Texas) Conference authorized the purchase of Mount Wesley in Kerrville in 1923. That same year the Methodist Episcopal Church obtained Gulfside in Mississippi. The Northwest Texas Conference followed the next year with the purchase of Ceta Canyon. In 1939 the Central Texas Conference bought land at Glen Rose.
The lack of an encampment did not mean that Texas Conference Youth did not camp. Lon Morris College was the most popular site, and when the youth assemblies grew too large for that campus, Texas A & M hosted the event.
The 1945 Texas Annual Conference authorized a committee to locate a site for a conference encampment. That committee considered sites in various parts of the conference, but finally decided on a 453 acre tract in Anderson County. The deed to that property was presented to the conference on June 11, 1947.
Exactly two years later, June, 1949, the first campers arrrived. They were the Older Youth Assembly. They found a lake, a dining hall, and twelve cabins. They also found abundant quantities of red clay that had been brought to surface by the installation of water lines. June, 1949, was a rainy year so soon the brand new facilities were filled with red clay mud stains. Most of the campers resorted to bare feet for the week. From that small beginning came more than a half century of expansion, increased services. and an ever-widening witness.
Personal Note: The author attended that first camp in June, 1949 as a toddler while his father was acting as Dean of the Assembly.