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History of Short Mountain Bible Camp

The following history was written by Mrs. W.H. "Mom" Brown. It is the first chapter of a book she is working on about the camp as she knew it in the years she and her husband, Bill, were the directors. 


"When you first turn off highway 146 to go up on Short Mountain you don't realize the majesty of it. Then as the road begins to wind and edge it's way on up you start seeing the valleys off to the right and lift….such a beautiful sight! Not until you get on top does the handiwork of God really magnify itself. Once you are there you can look to the west as the sun is setting and the skyline simply takes your breath away. " 

"This mountain is something special! God has given it to me for some purpose. In searching out that purpose, I can think of no better use to which it could be put than in some use for young people, such as a Christian camp." So spake Dr. J.F. Adams, beloved physician of Woodbury, Tennessee in December 1952, to a group of Christians gathered at the Woodbury Church of Christ, immediately following the group's tour of the mountain, searching out its possibilities.  

The idea of a Christian camp for youth was planted in the doctor's mind by Vardaman Forrister, minister of the Woodbury church. Realizing at that time that there was not a Christian camp especially for the young people in all the southeastern part of the United States, Dr. Adams thought well of the idea, and decided to put the idea into operation. Dr . Adams invited a number of brethren to consider the idea, and to form a board of directors. Those forming the board at first were, PAUL M . TUCKER, EL VIS HUFFARD, JOHN T. SMITHSON, JR., V.E. WILBANKS, NILE YEARWOOD, J.W. BRENTS, CARL NORWOOD, A.R. HAL TON, MACK LANGFORD, STANLEY McINNERY AND JOHN ALEXANDER. 

Elvis Huffard was elected President of the Board of Directors. Very shortly brother Huffard went to Nigeria as a missionary, and Paul M. Tucker was named as President of the Board. Tucker served in that capacity from 1953 to 1973. A charter of incorporation was received from the state of Tennessee on February 10, 1953. The purpose of the incorporation was stated as "providing a place and facilities for carrying on a program of religious, educational and recreational teaching for people of all ages. " It was to be an eleemosynary institution for young people. 


The 700 acres of mountain land (more or less), from an area towering to 2,076 feet above sea level, is the highest point in Middle Tennessee. From the top of the mountain, there is a 360-degree panoramic view unsurpassed in the area. The area has historic value. Millstones were made in a cave on the mountain in 1806, according to an old inscription on a bluff. Nearby are numerous state erected historical markers as well. To the Board of Directors, Dr. and Mrs. Adams leased the land for 99 years for $1.00. Later the land was deeded to David Lipscomb College, who will become sole owner of the land at the expiration of the lease. In 1963, there was a flagpole erected at the camp. On July 4, 1963, the Board presented Dr. and Mrs. Adams a bronze plaque, which was attached to the marble top flagpole in recognition that "their lives of dedication and loyalty have been an inspiration to many thousands, both young and old in this area. May it continue to be for ages to come. 


Dr. Adams was a trailblazing country doctor. In addition to serving other social needs, he delivered many hundreds of babies in the entire region, often in homes. He was also known as a wise counselor, with keen perception and insight into problems of the people he loved to serve. As a Christian doctor, he was interested in what these babies he was delivering should grow up to be. He had keen vision. He foresaw thousands of young people on Short Mountain enjoying the benefits of Christian camping with dedicated Christian staff, the Bible being taught everyday in God's natural surroundings. So Short Mountain Bible Camp was born. 


The first public meeting on the campgrounds was Labor Day, 1953. Approximately 150 people from twenty congregations gathered, assessed the potential, and made plans for development of facilities. The meeting was held in the new dining hall kitchen, which was the first building erected, and was financed by a loan of $5,000, which the Board made at the Bank of Commerce, Woodbury, Tennessee, of which Dr. Adams was President of the Board. Getting the camp ready was no small task. Mr. H.C. Hollandsworth, owner and operator of Hollandsworth Building Supply, was contracted to do the work. He supplied the materials and hired many good Cannon County carpenters for the joy. Among these carpenters was his son-in-law, McQuade Armstrong. At that time, there was an old barn and house. The dining room and kitchen was built where the barn had stood. Dr. Adams struck the match that set the fire that burned the old barn down. About halfway around the mountain from the campsite was an old farm house that was torn down and the rock chimney was taken down and rebuilt in the dining room. 


The first year of camp operation was a ten-day session in the summer of 1954, for boys only, as we had only one bath house, and the bunk beds were in the north end of the dining hall. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Davis were the first directors. The summer of 1955 saw two ten-day sessions, one for boys and one for girls. Jimmie Johnson was the camp director. During the first three years, swimming was at the public pool in McMinnville, which we had reserved for our campers alone, at certain hours of the day. We have always had boy and girl swimming groups separately.  

A giant step forward was taken in 1956 when Bill and Gertrude (Mom and Pop) Brown became directors of the camp. A swimming pool was constructed, with the help of Karl Peltier Sr., who had worked in camping in Virginia. Mom and Pop Brown had ten years of previous camping experience. In 1957, additional bath facilities and cabins enabled the camp to take both boys and girls at the same time. 


The Brown's gave order, organization, direction, spiritual emphasis and discipline as characteristic of the camping program. In addition to a spiritual emphasis of daily chapel and Bible classes, the camp became a member of the American Camping Association under the Browns, who directed the camp for eighteen years. Details of those wonderful "Mom and Pop " years must wait for another chapter of this history. 


When we took over the camp there were three buildings, a dining hall, small bathhouse and Cricket Lodge. When we left there were five boys cabins, five girls cabins, a gym, craft house, Lischey lodge, a directors house, a barn, swimming pool with two dressing rooms, two large shower houses, a rifle range, two tennis courts and a caretakers home was being constructed. Also, a building used to house ministers. A lake for fishing and canoeing was added. There were between 300 and 400 hundred baptisms and restorations. 


Thanks to a wonderful Board of trustees and many interested Christian people who are interested in young people.  

A lot of wonderful things have happened on mountain. The big thing that has happened in my lifetime was the founding of Short Mountain Christian Youth Camp.


Since the time of the Browns, there have been periods where the camp has been slow but has since rebounded dramatically. The camp has grown and has become one of the premier camping facilities in the Southeastern United States. Come be a part and watch history unfold.

Gallery: About
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