It all began with the purchase of fresh eggs from a local resident.
In the late 1950s, the Southern Baptist Church in Weir, Kan., had begun looking for some land in order to built a church camp. One day a church member had stopped by one of his friend's house to purchase some eggs and mentioned that he was out searching for land.
“Well, I've got something you just might be interested in,” the friend had said. With that, the small Baptist Church purchased 80 acres of hill top land located in the old mining area of Weir. The church acquired 80 acres for $1,250.
“There was nothing here but a lot of trees and a bunch of junk,” said Delbert Calloway, Camp General Manager since 2006. “The land was purchased in 1958, and work began right away to build the camp.”
The church got busy and moved in an old clapboard building, which was used for “everything at the camp, including dining, sleeping, laundry...everything,” stated Calloway. In 1962, the church built the dining hall using bricks from the old brick plant in town.
“The church men hauled in the old bricks and the ladies would separate them and wash them, then the workers used the bricks to build the new building. Everything was from right here in Weir,” he said.
As time passed, each church in the Southeast Kansas Baptist Association built their own individual cabin. There are presently 11 churches represented, with 11 separate cabins, and two new ones currently under construction.
The first camp took place in 1962, beginning with girls ages nine through twelve, then known as the GAs (Girls' Auxiliary). The camp hosted 20 young girls.
“Back then we did the camps separately,” Calloway said. “But now we do the boys and girls together, according to age brackets. They seem to like it better that way.”
Presently the camp schedule includes Senior High Students, grades 9-12; Junior High Students, grades 7 and 8; Pre-Teen, grades 5 and 6; a two day camp for grades 1 and 2; and a one day camp for ages 4 through Kindergarten.
Mornings are started at the camp with a hearty breakfast in the dining hall, followed by Bible classes, and a devotional held in an open air tabernacle. After lunch, campers enjoy free time to participate in the many activities offered to them.
Basketball, softball, and miniature golf are only a few of the activities a camper can enjoy. There is also a complete play area including sand boxes, climbing tires, and a tire jungle-gym for the younger children; a 240 feet water slide; Frisbee golf; fishing is available from a dock on a private pond; an obstacle course; a climbing rope field; and being added for next year, a zip line.
After the evening meal, the campers meet once again in the tabernacle for singing and worship services. After the services are concluded, the children are given “canteen time,” free time in which to purchase soft drinks and snacks from the little canteen, to have fellowship with each other, to make new friends, and to go over plans for the next day. The older children's camps are Monday through Friday.
The Weir Baptist Camp also offers weekend retreats for anyone wishing to use their facilities.
“There is no group too small or no group too big,” Calloway said. “We have a lot of Hispanics from Miami (Oklahoma) and Carthage (Missouri), who use our camp for retreats. We also have several families who rent out the camp for family reunions.”
The public can rent the facilities, utilizing several options. The camp can provide one, two, or all three meals, or the campers may prepare their own meals. The laundry is available, and some linens, though it is best to inquire on what basic essentials are provided when calling to schedule a retreat or an event.
All cabins are air conditioned, though there are only a select few sleeping options that maintain heating.
Secluded in a wooded area away from the camp is a private prayer garden, complete with benches and shade trees. The prayer garden is a quiet place for reflection and prayer during the children's hectic schedules.
For information on the church camp, or to schedule a family reunion, retreat, or an event, people may call Delbert Calloway at (620)870-8834.