ASSU (American Sunday School Union (now InFaith) rented the property, which is now Galilee Bible Camp, from Mrs. L. I. Mauney, a bankers wife from LaFollette. Mrs. Mauney had purchased three pieces of property around a cove of Norris Lake from the TVA. She had a vision for a Methodist camp, a Baptist camp, and a non-denominational camp for children from the mountain area.
The non-denominational section of camp was very primitive, no electricity, no running water (other than one pipe coming from some springs to the kitchen), no showers or hot water. Gas and kerosene lanterns provided the light. There were two buildings on the main side, the original dining room which also served as girls dorm. It had a dirt floor, no caulking between the logs and a tarpaulin over the front.
Across the lake there was a nice screened-in building which served as the boys dorm. Water for drinking was hauled over in milk cans. A cake of soap and a towel was given to each as they went to the lake for their daily bath.
The first year of camp, 51 children attended ranging from the ages of 5 to 19. Betty Glover, an ASSU missionary and her friend, Mildred Clarke directed the camp. Mildred kept the children well fed with the use of a tiny propane gas stove set up outside. The dishes were washed and rinsed in two big wash tubs, protected from the rain and sun by a flapping tarpaulin. Even with the excitement and the primitive conditions, children were saved and encouraged in the Lord.
After observing the camp a few years, Mrs. Mauney was so pleased with the curriculum, and the children that attended, she sold the property to the ASSU thinking that her dreams for her mountain children had been answered. Because of the excellent lake site, the property could have been sold for a tremendous sum, but she sold it for just a minor fee.
In 1964 after the purchase of the camp, Bud Johnson from Philadelphia was commissioned to develop a camp and training center for mountain young people. He built seven girls cabins and three boys cabins. There was also a shop, his home (The mission house) and what is now known as the guest house (The Paxson). Electricity was installed and a good well dug. Later a shower house and a dish room were also built.
Because of the dire poverty and isolation of the mountain areas the need was seen of not only teaching the children spiritual truths but how to get along with other people in social graces. This birthed the idea of the Harold Baird Center, so called in memory of the brother of Mr. Baird, a businessman in New York City who was then interested in the project.
Because of lack of funds and the government building, Vocational Schools at Cove Lake and Scott County, the Harold Baird Training Center did not materialize. However, there were three weeks of camp held for the children, plus there were weekend retreats, picnics, and Bible Club rallies. And when not in use, various Christian groups were able to rent the facilities.
There is always constant need of upkeep and improvement. In 1993, Mr. Raymond Moore, Honorary Vice President of the camp, greatly improved the road. There was also a multipurpose building built in memory of the former Regional Director, Wilbur F. Rigby.
During Ms. Glover’s and Ms. Clarke’s time at the camp, 1958-1989, the Lord blessed with around 500 young people professing to accept Christ as Savior. Betty had spoken with three of the original campers who are now grandparents and they spoke of “Camp Galilee” and their “mountain-top experience.” Only the Lord has the true records and knows the future potential of this place dedicated to His Glory.
** NOTE: History and the above picture (one of the first camps to inlclude all ages) were given by Betty Glover and the late Mildred Clarke. We thank these wonderful ladies for their hard work and dedication to the Lord. They have touched many lives with the Lord’s love!