Camp Yorktown Bay

The Story Behind the Camp

Commander Peter Dierks Joers in 1963 (Baxter Bulletin, 1963)

December 11, 1958, was the first organizational meeting for the Hot Springs Navy League Council (hereinafter “Navy League”), part of a national organization of men voluntarily seeking to keep the American public informed of our Navy’s needs, included veterans of the various military services, and non-veterans, too (Sanders, 2017). The original idea for the camp began when the Navy League needed a base on Lake Ouachita for training its Sea Cadets. This program, the Naval Sea Cadet Corps (NSCC) was for boys ages fourteen to seventeen. Also included, the Navy League Cadet Corps (NLCC), was for boys ages twelve to thirteen, to promote interest and skill in naval disciplines while instilling strong moral character and life skills through leadership and technical programs modeled after the Navy’s professional development system (Corps, 2005). Peter Dierks Joers, president of the Navy League and vice-president of Dierks Forests, Inc., offered to donate sixty acres of land for the project, and the U. S. Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over lakeshore property, agreed to lease the remaining fifty-three acres to the Navy League, which was a non-profit organization, giving them a 113 acre site on which to build the camp. The name Camp Yorktown Bay was chosen, named for the second U. S. Aircraft Carrier Yorktown, bombed by the Japanese in late 1944 off Okinawa during World War II, and for the town of Yorktown, Virginia, which was the scene of a major naval battle during the American Revolution. The president, Peter D. Joers and George Earnshaw, secretary at the time the idea for the camp was conceived, had both been officers on the carrier, Yorktown (Council, 1962).

Photo courtesy of the Navy League.

In 1960 the Navy League sponsored a Navy Day celebration with the theme “Arkansas Salutes the Navy.” Top brass from all parts of the country were in attendance. Leading the celebration were L to R: Honorable John L. McClellan, U.S. Senator from Arkansas; Commander Peter D. Joers, Navy League President; and Brigadier General J. C. Munn, USMC Assistant Commandant.

USS Yorktown embarking aircraft at U.S. Naval Station (Navy, 1940)
USS Yorktown
Recipe for 10,000 Chocolate Chip Cookies

The USS Yorktown carried a complement of 2,600 men, so this recipe made enough for three to four cookies per person.

112 pounds of chocolate chips
165 pounds of flour
500 eggs
100 pounds of white granulated sugar
87 pounds of shortening
75 pounds of brown sugar
12 pounds of butter
3 pounds of salt
3 cups of vanilla
4 cups of water
1 1/2 pounds of baking soda

Cream white sugar and brown sugar with
shortening and butter. Add eggs, mixing.
Incorporate flour, water, salt, and baking
soda. Add vanilla and chocolate chips. Drop
by measured scoops on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees 12 to 15 minutes.

Posted in the USS Yorktown Naval Museum in Charleston, S.C.

Navy League Camp Construction Begins

1962 Master Plan for Camp Yorktown Bay. Photo courtesy of the Navy League.

As the Navy League began work on the camp, the idea of the project grew to not only serve the Sea Cadets, but hundreds of other Garland County youth as well. The first project was to put in a three-and-a-half mile gravel road joining the access road from Hwy. 270 to Ouachita State Park. By 1962, the Council had cleared two large areas. On one area they had built a 27′ by 90′ mess hall and five 20′ by 20′ cabins. On the other, an administration building had been built and they had plans to build five additional cabins. Pressure treated lumber was used on all the buildings and they all had concrete floors. When completed, the camp would include an office, mess hall, ships store, sick bay, amphitheater with open-air chapel, waterfront development, program equipment and camp water system. Electrical power lines were being installed and telephone service was added shortly. Later, the Navy League planned to construct three-sided Adirondack shelters for year-round camping, and clear trails over the area (Council, 1962). The camp motto was, “He stands the straightest who stoops to help a child.”

U. S. Navy Jet Trainer donated to the camp. Photo courtesy of the Navy League.

Navy League Camp Dedication

On Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16, 1962, a special dedication for the camp was held, with the actual dedication ceremony taking place at Camp Yorktown Bay on Saturday afternoon. Many naval officers and dignitaries from around the United States were invited to attend and forty-five of these distinguished guests and spouses came for the dedication. Many of these men had served on the USS Yorktown.

Photo courtesy of the Navy League.

Photos courtesy of the Navy League.
Senator John McClellan-principal speaker.

Navy League Youth Program begins

Camp Yorktown Bay opened its doors under the direction of the Navy League to young people during the summer of 1962 and beginning July 2, ran three twelve-day camps for boys and one for girls (Sentinel-Record, 1962). Because of the naval aspect of the camp’s origin, there were classes in seamanship, basic navigation, and naval terms along with the swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, first aid, softball, archery, and other sports. At first the camp could accommodate seventy campers plus the necessary staff per week. That number could double when the remaining cabins they hoped to build were completed, for total accommodations of 840 campers and staff each summer (Council, 1962). In the summer of 1963, the Navy League expanded the program to twelve sessions with ten for boys and two for girls. They also donated 192 scholarships for young people to attend (Sentinel-Record, 1963).

Using the hand-and-bat method of choosing sides for a baseball game.

Corporal Missile Presented to the Camp

Flyer Advertising the Navy League Youth Camp

Photo courtesy of the Navy League.

Navy League signs five-Year Lease with the Arkansas Boys Club

A lease was signed for the Boys Club to use the camp from 1965 to 1970. (Times, 1964)

The Navy League never felt that they were doing an adequate job of operating the summer camp program so in June 1964, the Navy League and the Arkansas Boys Club officials signed an agreement turning control of Camp Yorktown Bay over to the Boys Club for a period of five years, effective January 1, 1965 (Sentinel-Record, 1964). The Boys Club operated a summer camp program in 1965 (Abilene Reporter-News, 1965) but news that the Boys Club members were not taking care of the camp nor upholding the values and high standards upon which the camp had been founded soon reached the Navy League and they rescinded the lease after the first year.

Dream for Our Own Camp

Elder Wally Welch. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference had never owned a youth camp, but had dreams of having one that would be well-suited to their needs. In 1965, the youth director, Elder Wally D. Welch, stopped at the Meyers Realty Company in Hot Springs and asked if they could show him some property on the lake that might be used for a camp facility. The owner, Lawrence Meyers, spent most of the day with Wally looking at various lake properties. The properties were very expensive and the conference didn’t have any money to invest in a youth camp—they had just completed a new girls’ dorm and were starting to build the gymnasium at Ozark Academy. At the end of the day Wally explained this to Mr. Meyers and Mr. Meyers asked, “Well, let’s just say you had some property on the lake somewhere; what would you do with it?” So Wally explained to him the kind of youth camp we would like to have, if and when we had the funds to buy such a facility (Welch, 1968).

Mr. Meyers thoughtfully said, “Well there is only one camp like that in this whole country and that’s Camp Yorktown Bay out on Lake Ouachita.” He continued, “But you couldn’t touch that at all because a group of men who were formerly in the Navy built this camp and they have invested a whole lot of money in it. Several of those men served on the aircraft carrier, the Yorktown, so that’s why they call their camp ‘Camp Yorktown Bay.’” But Meyers said he would go talk to Peter Joers, vice-president of Dierks Forestry, and also president of the Navy League. Dierks Forestry owned some lake property and Meyers thought they might be willing to give the Arkansas-Louisiana conference a long-term lease on it (Sherrill, n.d.).

When Meyers went to see Peter Joers he asked, “Peter, how is your camp doing?” Peter replied, “Not any good at all.” He went on to explain that they had money and a dream, but didn’t know anything about running a camp. They had tried it for three years without any success, so they finally gave up on it and leased it out to the Arkansas Boys Club. They hadn’t taken care of the camp and Peter said, “I don’t know what we’re going to do with it.” Mr. Meyers replied, “Why don’t you give it to the Seventh-day Adventists?” Peter’s grandmother, LaDesha Dierks Joers, had been a Seventh-day Adventist for many years, living near Union College, so Peter knew quite a bit about Adventists. Meyers proceeded to tell Peter all that he knew about the Seventh-day Adventists’ dream for a youth camp. When Meyers finished, Peter said, “Tell those people to come see me. If they are half as good as you say they are, I think we will give it to them” (Sherrill, n.d.).

Navy League Gives Lease to Seventh-day Adventists

Meyers called the Conference office saying, “I think they are going to give you this Camp Yorktown Bay on Lake Ouachita, lock, stock, and barrel, no strings attached.” When they met with Peter he said, “As far as I am concerned, you can have the camp. About a hundred of us have invested in this camp property and it is now administered by a board of twelve, of which I am chairman. They usually take my recommendation. I don’t know if they will this time or not, but I’m going to recommend to them we give you the camp.” When Peter told the board all he knew about Seventh-day Adventists and the work they do, the board voted unanimously to give the twenty-year lease of Camp Yorktown Bay to the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference and have them come and take it over (Sherrill, n.d.). Three of the provisions given by the Hot Springs Navy League when they assigned the lease to the conference were that: 1) We provide camping facilities for under-privileged children each year, along with camps for our own members; 2) Should we ever cease to be interested in the operation of the camp, that it be returned to the members of the Board of the Hot Springs Navy League; and 3) That we retain the name Camp Yorktown Bay (Agreement, 1965).

Transfer of Lease on September 15, 1965

Red outline indicates the 53 acres leased from the Army Corps of Engineers.

On September 15, 1965, a formal ceremony was held and the U. S. Corps of Engineers’ lease of the fifty-three acres of waterfront property of Camp Yorktown Bay to the Hot Springs Navy League Council was sublet to the Arkansas Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists (Beeler, 1996). At this time, the camp included a small office building, a one-bedroom caretaker’s home, an open-air covered dining hall and enclosed kitchen with $25,000 worth of stainless steel appliances and fixtures, five 20′ x 20′ screened cabins, a restroom facility, an open-air pavilion/basketball court, horseshoes area, ball field with backstop and softball equipment still in the cellophane, a pickup truck, a motor boat, a rowboat, a canoe rack with several canoes, a roped-off swimming area, and separate boating area. The camp and facilities were valued at about $250,000 (Sherrill, n.d.). In addition to the 113 acres of camp property, there were two small islands about a quarter mile from the swimming and canoeing area. The larger island, about one acre, was the Peter Joers Island and the smaller island, about half an acre, became known as PIN Island, possibly named for Paul Irving (“P. I.”) Nosworthy, who was the conference treasurer during this time (Ray, 1979; cf. 1966 plans below). An open house for the camp was held on October 17, 1965, with about 200 in attendance (Wright, 1965). On May 21, 1968, the sixty acres of adjoining Dierks Forestry land that had been donated to the Navy League by Peter D. Joers was donated to the Conference (Warranty, 1968).

Our First Summer Camp at Camp Yorktown Bay

The first Seventh-day Adventist summer camp held at Camp Yorktown Bay was in July 1966 (Green, 1966; cf. Welch, 1966). Since there were only five duplex cabins, the camps for girls and boys were held separately, July 3-10 for girls, and July 10-17 for boys. The cost was $18.50 for the week (Welch, 1966).

1966 Summer Camp Application (Welch, 1966)

Plans to Develop the Camp

1966 plans for Camp Yorktown Bay development. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

First Camporee At the Camp

It was voted for the Missionary Volunteer department of the conference to conduct a Missionary Volunteer Camporee at Camp Yorktown Bay from May 5 – 7, 1967 (Minutes, 1966).

Camp Improvements 1967-1968

Stephen Burton in front of new boys’ cabin #5 on June 18, 1967. Photo courtesy of Sue Burton.

When the camp was given to the conference there was sufficient eating, sleeping, and meeting space for eighty campers at a time. By June 1967, several improvements had been completed to handle up to 160 campers at the camp: 1) Five new duplex cabins were added to accommodate mixed groups. The cabins had large screened windows to allow fresh air, with shutters that could be lifted to provide shade and keep out rain, or lowered to add warmth and privacy; 2) Two piers and docks were built in the swim area; and 3) To accommodate the growing numbers of youth attending our summer camps, the dining hall at Camp Yorktown bay was enlarged by fifty per cent. A large rock fireplace was added to the dining hall to add a place for indoor campfires (Record, 1967a); 4) An additional bathhouse was added; 5) New boating equipment was purchased (Welch, 1967). As a result of the new cabins, 1967 was the first year the camp program was divided by age instead of gender. June 18-25 was for ages nine to thirteen; June 25-July 2 was for ages twelve to sixteen, with twelve and thirteen year-olds allowed to go to either or both camps (Record, 1967b).

The dining hall was dedicated to Peter Dierks Joers’ uncle, DeVere Dierks, Sr.
Interior of the dining hall facing the rock fireplace. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Tragedy at the Camp

(Dyer, 1967)

The only death in over eighty years of summer camp history in our conference, occurred at Camp Yorktown Bay on Monday, June 19, 1967, in the ski area. Staff and campers alike still distinctly recall this tragic incident that took place over fifty years ago. Two campers, Stephen Burton and Lewis Cox, clearly remember their first summer camp experience. On their first day of camp activities, they looked out the back window of their cabin and saw the flashing lights of an ambulance (Burton, 2019). They were shocked to learn that a young girl, Connie Theriot, had apparently collapsed while water skiing (Dyer, 1967). Thirty-six year old Jerry Wynne, the spotter in the boat, witnessed her fall, and the boat driver, Alvin Castania, also thirty-six, turned around to pick her up. Witnesses told the Garland County sheriff that Connie was already unconscious by then (Gazette, 1967). The camp nurse attempted to revive her with artificial respiration and oxygen. Connie was taken to a Hot Springs hospital where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Connie’s father, Roy Theriot, said that “she was known to have a slight heart murmur, but the advice of all doctors had always been that she not be restricted in her physical activities.” Connie’s twin brother, Donnie, had died of a similar heart condition five years before (Banner-Tribune, 1967).

Nosworthy Lodge

Elder Sherrill baptizing Nancy Chambers at CYB in 1968 (Bendall, 1969)

By July 1968, a large staff building directly across the road from the dining hall had just been completed. This facility provided a headquarters for the camp so that the camp director could live closer to the camping area. There was also room for a nurse’s office, camp store, and additional guest rooms. A beautiful stone fireplace was in the lobby to offer warmth in cooler seasons (Voss, 1968). Paul Irving Nosworthy had served as the conference secretary-treasurer for seventeen years and at the time of his retirement August 31, 1974, the staff building was named Nosworthy Lodge.

By the summer of 1969, our conference was running three weeks of summer camp, which included one week of Friendship Camp. This was a week that donations were given so under-privileged children could attend free of charge, as promised to the Navy League.

1969 summer camp dates (Bendall, 1969)
A new camp sign in 1970 made it easier to find the camp. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Summer Camp Schedule

The 1971 summer camp schedule included a week of blind camp to make the camp program four weeks:
Friendship Camp — (ages 10-16) — June 21-27
Summer Camp No. I — (ages 9-13) — June 27-July 4
Summer Camp No. II — (ages 12-16) — July 4-11
Camp for the Blind — July 11-16

New Nature Building in 1972

The nature building was dedicated to Peter D. Joers.

In 1971, Peter D. Joers donated the money for a nature and craft building. Elder Sherrill organized a work bee at the camp to construct what was named the Peter Dierks Joers Nature Building (often referred to as Town Hall). The foundation and floor made of concrete was poured in the rain on a Sunday by volunteer help from men in the Bonnerdale, DeQueen, and Hot Springs churches. The pouring of the floor 30′ x 100′ was quite a task. Three giant eight-yard concrete trucks got stuck and had to be winched out. One truck had to be unloaded before it could be gotten out. Elder Sherrill met with the pastors from Arkansas and three from Louisiana along with his departmental men at Camp Yorktown Bay on the following Sunday. Work started at 1:00 p.m. that afternoon and by noon on Thursday, the exterior of the building was almost completed. The front of the building was covered with polished native stones and petrified wood. Before long, the interior was finished as well, with display cabinets completed and ready for materials to be displayed in them (Sherrill, 1972).

Pioneers and Indians

In 1972, covered wagons had been added for “Schooner Circle” where the campers took turns sleeping overnight. Also, three teepees and a native-American-style hogan were added to the large island in Lake Ouachita near Camp Yorktown Bay. Campers and counselors took turns canoeing over to the island to spend an interesting night out in nature. Both of these overnight experiences were very much enjoyed by the campers (Bendall, 1972a).

Groundbreaking for Camp Motel in 1972

E. Frank Sherrill, president of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, turns the first shovel of dirt in preparation for the new building at Camp Yorktown Bay. P. I. Nosworthy, treasurer, looks on while Richard W. Bendall, camp director, moves the first stone. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

By 1972, the number of individuals using Camp Yorktown Bay had more than doubled since 1968, and the need for additional housing had become urgent. For some time, the conference had been wanting to provide more housing but funds were not available. Then, at an Arkansas-Louisiana medical retreat in September 1971, the doctors worked out a plan whereby the laymen of the conference would furnish the finances so a twelve-unit building could be constructed. Each room had carpeting and a private bath. Individual heating/air conditioning units were installed. Four of the rooms had kitchenettes. They ended up building a sixteen-unit building with laundry facilities. The motel helped to alleviate the crowded room problems at workers’ meetings, lay congresses, and summer camps (Bendall, 1972b).

Ski Shed and Boat Dock

The boat shed and dock improvements were added in 1975. Photo courtesy of Sue Burton.



Camp Yorktown Bay Staff Cabin
A wing with two bedrooms and a bathroom was added to the administration building which served as the caretaker’s home. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Horses Added to the Camp in 1975

Camp Yorktown Bay horses
Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

February 9 – 12, 1975, the Arkansas ministers met at the camp to construct a twelve-foot addition along the whole length of the cafeteria. This addition was winterized and air-conditioned, with room for a bakery and laundry facilities (Eccles, 1975). Probably the greatest single attraction that was added to the camp in 1975 was the horses. Dr. Bryant of Tennessee, gave four beautiful Appaloosa horses to the camp, then Stan and Punky Garret of New Orleans gave a quarter horse that was ready to foal in a few months. In addition, Holmes Goslee loaned four horses to the camp for the duration of the summer. Of course, the horses required a corral and stable which, thanks to the Good News Singers, were built in record time, since the horses were enroute to the camp. A temporary barn and stable were built during the winter of 1975-1976 by the camp superintendent, Ron Becker (Herman, 1976). Later, saddles were purchased for the horses and a permanent barn was built in 1978.

Camp Yorktown Bay horses
Horses with foal in the summer of 1975. Photo courtesy of Jim Herman.

CYB Summer Camp Staff 1976

Youth director – Jim Herman. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton, and Photoshop by Jerry Downs.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1977

Camp Yorktown Bay staff 1977
Youth director – Gary Rust. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1978

Camp Yorktown Bay staff 1978
Youth director – Gary Rust. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1979

Camp Yorktown Bay staff 1979
Youth director – Gary Rust. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
Stephen Burton designed and built the first camp gate in 1979, with the help of Mike Rust. Photo courtesy of Sue Burton.

Steps to the Swim Dock in 1980

Photo courtesy of Sue Burton.

The path leading from the dining hall to the swim dock was rather steep and loose rocks made it easy to slip. During camp in 1980, Rene Zambrano and the interim ranger, Stephen Burton, built steps going down the hill, using railroad ties and fill dirt to create a terraced walkway. That summer, camp staff lined the edges of the walkway with rocks to help prevent erosion.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1980

Camp Yorktown Bay staff 1980
Youth director – Gary Rust. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.

By 1980, there were ten weeks of summer camp programs, including several specialty camps (Rust, 1980). For the first time in the history of our conference, over 1,000 campers attended camp in one summer (Elder, 1981).

Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1981

Youth director – Bill Wood. This building housed the nurses station on the left and the camp store on the right. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1982

Youth director – Bill Wood. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1983

Youth director – Bill Wood. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1984

Youth director – Ron Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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Milestones in 1985

Bill Miller, Judge Henry Britt, and Elder Woodruff with newly signed lease. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

September 15, 1985, marked the twentieth anniversary of the Adventists’ use of Camp Yorktown Bay. The Navy League, who had originally leased the land from the Corps of Engineers, had arranged for us to sublease the land belonging to the Corps. Also in 1985, Camp Yorktown Bay went through its toughest evaluations in its twenty-year history. It was inspected by the Arkansas State Health Department, Gencon Insurance Company, the Corps of Engineers, the Garland County Fire Department, The Arkansas American Diabetic Association, and the American Camping Association and came through with flying colors. At that time, Camp Yorktown Bay was one of only four Adventist camps that were accredited by the American Camping Association. (Record, 1986).

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1985

Youth director – Ron Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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New 25 Year Lease

As the lease for the waterfront property came due for renewal on October 31, 1985, the conference treasurer, Marshall Chase, negotiated with the Navy League and the Corps of Engineers to have the new lease drawn up in the name of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference rather than going through the Navy League. The Corps advised Elder Chase that under the new Government Austerity Program they might have to charge as much as $1500 a year for the lease. Elder Chase and Ron Whitehead, conference youth director, pointed out the many community oriented programs operated by Camp Yorktown Bay such as Blind Camp, Diabetic Camp, and Friendship Camp. On February 12, 1986, conference president, Bill Woodruff, and Marshall Chase met Bill Miller from the Corps of Engineers in the office of Judge Henry Britt in Hot Springs. Judge Britt represented the Navy League. A new twenty-five-year lease was signed in the name of the conference with the Corps of Engineers at a total cost of $10 per year — only $250 for the entire lease period, which ran from January 1, 1986, to December 31, 2011 (Lease, 1986).

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1986

Youth director – Ron Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1987

Youth director – Ron Whitehead. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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A Year in the Life of Camp Yorktown Bay


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1988

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1989

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1990

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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1990 Ski Team

The Camp Yorktown Bay pyramid ski team. Bottom row L to R: Scotty Jones, Mike Hernandez, and Kevin Carlisle. Middle row L to R: Rodney Garrett and Bernie Anderson, ski director. Top: Julie Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.

Summer of 1990

During the summer of 1990, a total of 730 campers attended one of the following camps at CYB: Cub, Junior I, Junior II, Teen, Diabetic, Blind, Family, Waterski, Horsemanship, Scuba, or Half-Marathon. A six-person pyramid was a new feature of the weekly ski show by the Camp Yorktown Bay Ski Team (Kostenko, 1990).

Camp Yorktown Bay Operating Board Begins

A Camp Yorktown Bay Study Committee was formed in 1990 with their first meeting held September 23 and 24 at the camp. Their purpose was to create a mission statement for the camp and to plan and recommend ways to maintain, operate, and market the camp. The committee did a walk-through of the camp, inspecting it for needed maintenance and repairs. The committee recommended to the conference executive committee that the rocket (corporal missile) be painted and the plane (jet trainer) removed (Committee, 1990). This study committee, with the addition of one more member, became the first Camp Yorktown Bay Operating Board for the camp (Minutes, 1990).

Celebration of 25 Years

Elder Frank Sherrill and Elder Richard Bendall were the featured guests at the anniversary celebration banquet on Sabbath evening, September 29, 1990, held in the Camp Yorktown Bay cafeteria. It had been twenty-five years since the camp had been donated to the conference on September 15, 1965. The celebration was part of the annual Pastor/Elder’s Retreat and a group of more than 100 persons enjoyed an inspirational review of the Lord’s leading in providing this beautiful camp for our conference (Minutes, 1990).


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1991

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo taken near the Lake Ouachita spillway. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay and Tobe Watts with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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A Forty Acre Gift from the Navy League

At the end of 1991, the Arkansas-Louisiana conference accepted a generous offer from the Navy League of Hot Springs to give them forty acres of land near the main camp area. The Navy League indicated that its desire to present this gift was based on its large satisfaction with the program our church had carried on at Camp Yorktown Bay since they had passed the operation over to the conference (Minutes, 1991; cf. Quitclaim, 1992).


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1992

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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The Future of the U.S. Navy Jet Trainer

When the Jet Trainer was first donated to the camp it was completely intact except that the engine had been removed. Campers loved to slide back the glass and climb into the cockpit, work the controls, and crawl across the wings. Over the years the controls quit working, the glass over the cockpit had broken out and some metal had worn to become sharp. Eventually it became obvious that the trainer would need to be restored or removed. In May 1993, the Camp Yorktown Bay Board voted to retain the jet trainer plane, rather than donate it to the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida. The plane was to be restored by the time of the first CYB Board meeting in 1994 (Minutes, 1993). However, the restoration did not take place and the plane was donated to the Naval Air Museum.

A New Dining Hall in 1993

Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The original food service building was destroyed by fire on March 12, 1991 (Daniel, 1991). One side of the gym was enclosed to house a temporary kitchen. A new building that included the kitchen, dining area, restrooms, two offices, the camp store, and an infirmary was ready for the 1993 summer camp season. The paved surface in front of the building was paid for with funds raised by the camp staff during a 1993 phone-a-thon campaign, which raised $8,500 from 352 donors. The camp staff themselves pledged $500. The new dining building was dedicated on May 15, 1994, with representatives from the Navy League, the American Camping Association, the Arkansas-Louisiana conference, and from Hot Springs and Mountain Pine who came together to celebrate not only the dedication of the building but also the history of the camp (Record, 1994).

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1993

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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1993 Ski Team

The Camp Yorktown Bay 12-Man Pyramid ski team. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton. Bottom Row L to R: Cheryl Burnett, Mark Hoover, Clay Burnett, Mike Hernandez, Kevin Carlisle, Danny Pickle, and Sandra Crone. Middle Row L to R: Shelley Klein, Fred Harder, Timo Chacon, and Sarah St. Clair. Top: Tonda Peterson.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1994

Youth director – Joe Watts. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1995

Youth director – Mike Edge. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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Christian Camping International Membership

In 1995, Camp Yorktown Bay became a member of Christian Camping International/USA (CCI/USA), an association of more than 750 camps, conference centers, and retreat centers located throughout the United States. This new membership linked the Camp Yorktown Bay board and staff with more than 5,000 peer professionals in Christian camping and with the CCI/USA national office in Colorado Springs, which sponsored numerous training events designed to promote excellence in camping leaders. The result of this connection with CCI/USA was that members became better equipped in their task of shaping the lives of youth (Record, 1995).


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1996

Camp Director – Mike Dale. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1997

Camp Director – Ron Ray. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1998

Youth Director – Doug Brown. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
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CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 1999

Youth Director – Doug Brown. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

Master Plan drawing voted in 1999. (This plan does not necessarily reflect what has been done nor is it the current master plan.) Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2000

Youth Director – Doug Brown. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

New 25 Year Lease

January 9, 2001, Elder James Gilley, conference president, received a letter from the Department of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers granting a new twenty-five year lease for the waterfront property of Camp Yorktown Bay, effective January 1, 2001, and ending December 31, 2025. The annual rental of the Corps of Engineers property is now $375 per year (Torrey, 2001).

Yellow is the area leased from the Corps of Engineers, pink is the area owned by the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2001

Youth Director – Doug Brown. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2002

Youth Director – John Taylor. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

G50 ThunderStorm Hits Camp

On Friday, July 12, 2002, a G50 thunderstorm with winds of 58 mph, hit Camp Yorktown Bay during Tween Camp. The ski boat dock blew across the cove with damage to several boats and the dock structure, the brand new water trampoline/miniature blob ripped into the trees, the swim dock was pushed onto the shoreline with major damage caused to the dock itself, paddle boats, wave-runners and sailboats were flipped over or blown onto shore, a tree crashed through the sound shed at the campfire bowl, and numerous trees and large limbs were knocked down with other minor damage throughout the camp. A staff member, Kevin Burton, looking out the window of the camp store, saw a red streak fly past, but had no idea what it was until he later saw one of the canoes had blown into the trees at the top of the hill by the dining hall. Volunteers were called together for a work bee on Sunday, July 14, and managed to get much of the damage repaired and things back in place for the start of Teen Camp that afternoon.


Jan and Gary Manly, dedicated volunteers at the camp. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

From 2000 to 2003, Jan and Gary Manly spent countless hours, mostly volunteer, doing things to help the camp in various ways. Gary renovated the camp motel and lodge with new beds and furniture. Using his expertise in plumbing and construction he put new doors on the boys’ cabins, and on the motel, and put new bathroom sinks and tile throughout the motel. Jan worked as the camp cook during those years and also cooked for many church retreat weekends. The Manly’s two sons, Gary Jr. and Jeff helped around the camp as well. Gary Jr. repainted all the CYB logos on the boys’ cabins and the well house (Taylor, 2003).

One of the signs repainted by Gary Manly Jr.

New Campfire Bowl Stage in 2003

In 2003, the eighth grade class at Ozark Adventist School in Gentry raised about $2,500 for a Camp Yorktown Bay (CYB) mission trip. They used the money not only for their expenses but also to pay for the lumber, wiring and other materials needed for their project. The eighth graders spent six days at CYB remodeling the stage at the campfire bowl. This included rewiring for new lights and power outlets. In addition to the stage, many smaller projects were completed. The leaves were raked, trails repaired, handrails installed, gravel replaced, benches and the sound building painted, and the horseshoe pits were redone. There was still time for play each afternoon. The kids enjoyed wake-boarding, tubing, and sunbathing (Burton, 2003).

The old stage at the campfire bowl
The new stage built by the 2003 eighth grade class from OAS

In January 2003, the roads from the flagpole to the dining hall, around the front of the boys’ cabins, and from the dining hall to the top of the hill was paved with new asphalt. There was a gift to the camp that made this possible (Minutes, 2003).

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2003

Youth Director – John Taylor. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2004

Youth Director – John Taylor. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

New Dining Hall Deck in 2004 and 2005

The purpose of Ozark Adventist School’s eighth-grade class mission trips in 2004 and 2005, was to build a large deck out the back of the dining hall at Camp Yorktown Bay. In 2004, Stephen Burton, along with his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Rodney Bowes, spent spring break at the camp putting in posts and framing the deck floor for the large octagon portion of the deck. When the eighth-graders arrived for their mission trip, they installed the floor-boards, the railings, and the steps to the ground on this part of the deck. In 2005, the eighth-grade class put in the floor joists, the flooring, railings of the upper level of the deck and added steps connecting the upper deck to the lower deck.


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2005

Youth Director – John Taylor. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay with digital scan by Kevin Burton.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

New Septic System

Paperwork for permits to install a new septic system began in 2006. As plans were being made to replace the thirty-five year old cabins, the consulting engineer, Jerry Williams, determined that the new cabins, which would have toilet and shower facilities, could not be connected to the old septic field leach systems. The proposed project consisted of constructing a new sewer collection and treatment facility that included two 3,000 gallon pump tanks, one 3,000 gallon grease trap tank, three steel septic tanks of 35,000 gallons total, in addition to the sand filters, chlorine tank, meters, and lines needed (Williams, 2008).


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2006

No photo available. Youth Director – John Taylor

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2007

No photo available. Youth Director – Brandon Westgate

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2008

Youth Director – Brandon Westgate. Photo courtesy of Camp Yorktown Bay.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.
Camp sign in 2008

CYB Summer Camp Staff 2009

No photo available. Youth Director – Brandon Westgate

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2010

Youth Director – Brandon Westgate.
If you know more of the staff names, please contact us so we can add them.

New Cabins in 2010

During 2009-2010, new cabins were built at the camp. Five duplex cabins were built for the girls and five for the boys, with heating and air conditioning in addition to restrooms and showers in each side. The girls’ cabins were completed in time for outdoor school but the boys’ cabins were not ready until camp started. Wood walkways and decks were added as well.

The new boys’ cabins. Upper photos courtesy of Stephen Burton. Bottom photo courtesy of Stephen Orian.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2011

No photo available. Youth Director – Brandon Westgate

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2012

No photo available. Youth Director – Ray House

New Swim Docks In 2012

Between the summers of 2011 and 2012, the old wood and steel swimming docks that had become rusty and unsafe were removed and all-new swim docks with lifetime decks and flotation, and new diving boards were put in. Volunteers spent countless hours constructing the docks on the ball field before transporting them to the lake in time for summer camp. This made the swim area a much safer and fun place for campers (House, 2012). Another new feature for the summer of 2012 that was very popular was a gaga pit. Ray House, youth director, had the concept and he and Stephen Burton built it during outdoor school in May 2012.

Playing dodge ball in the gaga pit. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2013

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.

2013 Ski Team


CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2014

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.

Renovation of the Lodge

In 2014, the work of renovating the lodge began. Eric and Linda Bray, the camp rangers, did the demolition of the interior. In a few days, they had torn down walls, removed carpet, linoleum, and tile from the kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms. When the renovations were completed, the kitchen was larger with new cabinets and appliances, the bedrooms were enlarged, and there was a handicap-accessible bathroom (Villegas, 2014).


Motel Renovated in 2015

In 2014 – 2015, the motel was gutted down to the studs and each room completely renovated. Two rooms were redesigned to be handicap-accessible.

Celebration of 50 Years

June 4-7, 2015, Camp Yorktown Bay hosted a fifty-year anniversary of the donation of the camp from the Hot Springs Navy League to the Arkansas-Louisiana conference on September 15, 1965. Activities were planned for all day Friday and for Sabbath. Previous camp directors and staff were especially invited to attend (Record, 2015).

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2015

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.
CYB sign in 2015

Town Hall Renovated in 2016

In February 2016, plans were approved to remodel the town hall building. It was gutted down to the studs and completely renovated. Rooms were reconfigured to create space for much-needed restrooms in the building, in addition to the renovations made throughout the rest of the building.

The roads were improved in 2016 by adding cement to the s-curves coming down the hill into the camp and in 2017 the roads within the camp were repaved. This included paving the area in front of the gym, adding parking spaces, the road to the horse barn and by the town hall, which would finalize the project started in fourteen years before, in 2003 (Minutes, 2017).


CYB Summer Camp Staff 2016

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.

Camp of the Year Award

In the summer of 2016, Camp Yorktown Bay received the North American Division Norm Middag Award as Camp of the Year with a commemorative plaque and a check for $2,500. Eric and Linda Bray, Camp Manager and Food Service/Hospitality Services Director, as well as Jeff Villegas who was the Conference Youth Director at the time, provided outstanding service and a commitment to excellence. This was demonstrated in three significant ways: safety provisions, hospitality and care of campers, and facility upgrades (Orian, 2017; cf. Minutes, 2017).


CYB Summer Camp Staff 2017

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2018

Youth Director – Jeff Villegas. Photo courtesy of Darlynn Villegas.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2019

Youth Director – David Craig. Photo courtesy of David Craig.

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2020

Youth Director – David Craig. Photo courtesy of David Craig.

2020 CYB Virtual Summer Camp

What happens to summer camp when you have a pandemic and are required to use social distancing? Welcome to a virtual summer camp!

CYB SUMMER CAMP STAFF 2021

Youth Director – David Craig. Photo courtesy of David Craig.

United States Navy Loan

The bell and ship’s wheel on loan to CYB from the United States Navy.

Lake Ouachita at Beautiful Camp Yorktown Bay


Citations

(1935, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

(1942, Apr. 28). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1950, May 10). Ibid.

(1951, May 23). Ibid.

(1953, May 27). Ibid.

(1954, Jan. 25). Ibid.

(1956, Jun. 8). Ibid.

(1962, Jun. 16). Camp Yorktown Bay. Sentinel-Record, p. 3.

(1962, Dec. 6). Corporal Missile Presented to Camp Yorktown Bay Youth Camp. Ibid., p. 12.

(1963, Jun. 27). Youngsters Fire Military Guns as Camp Yorktown Bay Feature. Ibid., p. 12.

(1963, Oct. 31). 1964 State Chamber Officers. Baxter Bulletin, p. 20.

(1964, Jun. 26). Camp Yorktown Bay Control to Pass to Boys’ Club Next Year. Sentinel-Record, p. 16.

(1964, Jul. 17). Facility Donated by Navy League to Boys’ Club. The El Dorado Times, p. 2.

(1965, Apr. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.

(1965, Jul. 28). Roscoe Youth Back From Camp. Abilene Reporter-News, p. 2.

(1965, Sep. 1). Agreement of Assignment, Garland County Deed Records, Book 621 pp. 442-445.

(1966, Nov. 16). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1967a, May 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 6.

(1967, Jun. 20). Girl Collapses, Dies While Water Skiing. Arkansas Gazette, p. 22.

(1967, Jun. 21). Centerville girl dies at Arkansas camp Mon. St. Mary and Franklin Banner-Tribune, p. 1.

(1967b, Jul. 8). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

(1968, May 21). Warranty Deed. Garland County Deed Records, Book 622, pp. 432, 433.

(1986, Jan. 29). Lease No. DACW38-1-86-3. Lease between the Secretary of the Army and the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

(1986, Apr. 11). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(1990, Sep. 23, 24). Camp Yorktown Bay Study Committee. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1990, Oct. 18). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA, p. 2.

(1991, Nov. 1). Quitclaim Deed. Garland County Deed Records, Book 493, p. 290.

(1991, Dec. 1). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA, p. 3.

(1993, May 20). Ibid., p. 4.

(1994 Jul. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

(1995, Dec. 1). Ibid., p. 11.

(2003, Feb. 13). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(2015, Apr. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 18.

(2017, Mar. 9). Executive Committee Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(2017, Apr. 3). Ibid.

Beeler, Charles R. (1996). A History of Seventh-day Adventists in Arkansas and Louisiana 1888-1996. Keene: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p. 162.

Bement, W. E. (1937, Apr. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Bendall, Richard W. (1969, Mar. 8). Ibid., p. 7.

Ibid. (1969, May 24). p. 7

Ibid. (1972a, Jul. 8). p. 11.

Ibid. (1972b, Sep. 9). p. 9.

Britt, Judge Henry M. (1991, Nov. 5). Camp Yorktown Bay. Letter from Judge Britt.

Burton, Stephen. (2003, Jul. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 11.

Ibid. (2019, Aug. 12). Personal interview.

Carter, Lee. (1944, Apr. 12). Ibid., p. 1.

Daniel, Ray F. (1991, Mar. 13). Letter to the Executive Committee.

Davis, Dan. (2014, Mar. 25). Ruins of College Lodge.Retrieved from flickr.com.

Eccles, Floyd W. (1975, Apr. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

Elder, W. H. (1981, Mar. 5). Ibid., p. 5.

Gardner, Mrs. T. R. (1944, Apr. 26). Ibid., p. 4.

Green, George. (1966, Jan. 19). Ibid., p. 2.

Haas, Harold E. (1952, Aug. 7). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1953, May 20). p. 5.

Ibid. (1954a, Jun. 16). p. 4.

Ibid. (1954b, Jul. 7). p. 6. (Photo shows the Brownie Six-20 Camera model D made from 1953-1957.)

Herman, Jim. (1976, May 8). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.

House, Ray. (2012, Jul. 1). Youth Ministry Update. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Newsletter, p. 6.

Kostenko, Peter A. (1990, Dec. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

Naval Sea Cadet Corps. (2005). Who We Are. Retrieved from seacadets.org.

Olsen, Boyd E. (1947, Jun. 11). Southwestern Union Record,p. 4.

Orian, Stephen J. (2017, Mar. 1). Ibid. p. 10.

Ray, Ronel D. (1979, Fall). The History and Development of Camp Yorktown Bay, p. 6.

Ross, James B. (1941, Jun. 9). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 1, 2.

Ruf, A. F. (1935, Apr. 24). Ibid., p. 4.

Ibid. (1936, Aug. 19). pp. 3, 4.

Rust, Gary. (1980, May 29). Ibid., p. 6.

Sanders, Ben. (2017). Camp Yorktown Bay – Lake Ouachita. Retrieved from lakeouachita.org.

Sherrill, E. Frank. (1972, Sep. 9). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

Ibid. (no date). History of Camp Yorktown Bay. Unpublished.

Taylor, John E. (2003, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 7.

The Hot Springs Council – Navy League of the U. S. (1962, Jun. 16). Camp Yorktown Bay, p. 2.

Torrey, Burke S. (Jan. 4, 2001). Lake Ouachita, Arkansas, Lease No. DACW38-1-01-18, Camp Yorktown Bay. Letter from the Department of the Army, Vicksburg District, Corps of Engineers, Real Estate Division to James W. Gilley, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President.

U.S. Navy. (1937, Jul. 21). Yorktown (CV5). Starboard bow, underway. Retrieved from catalog.archives.gov.

U.S. Navy. (1940, Jul. 1). USS Yorktown (CV-5) embarking aircraft at Naval Air Station North Island, in June 1940. Retrieved from history.navy.mil.

Voss, H. H. (1968, Jul. 27). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

Welch, W. D. (1966, May 28). Ibid., p. 9.

Ibid. (1967, Apr. 22). p. 11.

Whitehead, Mrs. Hensen. (1950, Jul. 26). Ibid., pp. 3, 4.

Williams, Marvin (Jerry). (2008, Jan. 8). Camp Yorktown Bay Wastewater System Improvements. Letter from Engineers, Inc. to the Department of Arkansas Heritage Historic Preservation Program.

Winger, D. M. (1959, Sep. 30). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

Ibid. (1961a, May 31). p. 3.

Ibid. (1961b, Jul. 19). p. 5.

Ibid. (1963, Jun. 5). p. 8.

Wright, O. D. (1965, Nov. 10). Ibid., p. 4.

Herbert Clifford Hartwell

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference President, 1933-1937

His Early Years

Herbert C. Hartwell ca. 1902 (Globe, 1908)

Herbert Clifford Hartwell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on August 7, 1876, to Fanny Charlotte Hurst and Wilbur Fiske Hartwell. Herbert was the oldest of six children (Ancestry, 2021). He became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1899 and entered the colporteur work. Herbert attended school at South Lancaster, Massachusetts, then began his ministerial work in 1901 in the Central New England Conference (Worker, 1960). On June 4, 1902, he was united in marriage with Sarah “Sadie” Elisabeth Jones, and to this union four children were born: Raymond Herbert Hartwell, Anna Pearl Hartwell, Hazel Fanny Hartwell, and Donald Clifford Hartwell (Ancestry, 2021).

Years of Service

Elder H. C. Hartwell ca. 1935. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference.

Herbert C. Hartwell was ordained in 1905. Elder Hartwell became president of the Central New England Conference in 1909. When that conference was divided in 1910, Elder Hartwell served as the president of the newly formed Massachusetts Conference. Elder Hartwell served as president of the Western New York Conference from 1914 to 1916, then became president of the Eastern New York Conference. Elder H. C. Hartwell served as the Missouri Conference president from 1920 until 1933, when he became the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president (Yearbooks, 1909-1937). Because of failing health Elder Hartwell retired in 1937, after more than 28 years of administrative responsibilities (Worker, 1960).

Retirement Years

Elder H. C. Hartwell

In 1938, he and Sadie located in Florida where he served as district leader for six years, after which he continued to visit in some 40 churches of the Florida Conference (Worker, 1960). In 1957, Herbert lost his wife of 55 years. He married Mabel Lee Head in September 1958 (Ancestry, 2021).


Citations

(1908, Jan. 18). The Tabernacle. Fall River Globe, p. 2.

(1909 – 1937) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

(1960, Feb. 17). Southern Union Worker, p. 17.

Ancestry.com. (2014, Sep. 21). Sarah ‘Sadie’ Elisabeth Jones. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Ibid. (2021, May 19). Herbert Clifford Hartwell. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Louisiana Seventh-day Adventist History Begins in 1884

The first known Sabbath-keeper in Louisiana was Mary A. Nugent in New Orleans who was keeping the Sabbath at least by January 1866 (Review, 1866). She was subscribing to the Review and Herald and The Youth’s Instructor as early as February 1865. In 1866, a letter Mary wrote to a friend was published in the Review thanking her for the “Prophecy of Daniel” and other books, and wishing she could be with others of “like faith” (Review, 1866). New Orleans is also the site of the organization of the first church in the state (SDA Encyclopedia, 1976).

Photo: Mary A. Nugent ca. 1870 (Ancestry, 2019).

First Seventh-day Adventist Church in Louisiana Organized in 1885

Elder Robert Meek Kilgore opens a city mission in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of the Review and Herald.

In contrast to the rural beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Arkansas, the early efforts in Louisiana centered mainly in the city of New Orleans. Upon learning of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition that was to be held in New Orleans in 1884 to 1885, and seeing the opportunity to contact many people with the gospel, the General Conference sent Texas Conference president, Elder Robert M. Kilgore, to open a city Mission in New Orleans (Haskell, 1884). The Mission served as an International Tract Society, and included a free reading-room and a book depository which served as a distribution center for books and publications. It was located at Pitt Street between Valmont and Leontine Streets, but the following year moved to Magazine Street (Yearbook, 1887, 1888). Unlike most city missions, the New Orleans Mission had no sponsoring conference (Beeler, 1996). A few Adventist laymen came from other states and busily visited ships, depots, and hotels, distributing literature, and giving Bible studies (Owen, 1885a). When the Exposition opened, people came from all over the world to this busy port city, and an exhibit booth for Seventh-day Adventist publications was rented with hopes of spreading the gospel. After the Exposition, some who had started keeping the Sabbath left, but a few converts remained, were baptized in Lake Pontchartrain, and were organized into a church by Elder G. K. Owen. By August 1885, about fifteen people had begun to observe the Sabbath and hold regular Sabbath services in New Orleans (Owen, 1885b).

The 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans.

Challenges of the Work

Meanwhile, an interest was growing in Marthaville, a small city in the west central part of Louisiana (Beeler, 1996). Word of this reached Elder Thomas H. Gibbs, who had come from Kansas and at this time was leading the Mission in New Orleans. He immediately went to Marthaville and preached for about six weeks (Review, 1886). Sixteen adults took a firm stand for the Sabbath. Elder Gibbs did report some challenges, however. He said, “Pork is the principle article of diet, and tobacco—oh how the people are bound by this monster—men, women, young ladies not excepted, and small children!” (Gibbs, 1886). Another challenge in developing the work was the instability of the membership. After joining a small church, people might lose employment or suffer a crop failure and move elsewhere. Almost everywhere, the new Adventist churches with inexperienced members and infrequent pastoral visits, faced fierce anti-Adventist propaganda, which resulted in a loss of members (Beeler, 1996).

Church Growth

The principal factors contributing to church growth were annual camp meetings, canvassing, and tent crusades and the few workers in Louisiana were constantly involved in one of these methods of spreading the message. By 1887, there were two churches, New Orleans and Marthaville, neither of them very strong. Although there were only two canvassers, I. Q. Reynolds and his wife, for the entire state, they reported 1,073 visits, 124 Bible Readings given, and 116 sermons preached over a one-year period ending June 1888 (Yearbook, 1889). By the end of 1889 there were three successful companies, which were located at Shreveport, Hope Villa, and New Orleans. These were the direct result of the canvassers (Eldridge, 1890). At the General Conference proceedings in 1889, six more canvassers were asked to go to Louisiana (Yearbook, 1889). Other early churches that were established in Louisiana by 1901 when the Louisiana Conference was organized, were those in Mansfield (The Daily Signal1901) and New Orleans No. 2, a black church. Sabbath schools and companies included Bastrop, Hammond, Lake Charles, Shreveport, and Welsh.

First Seventh-day Adventist Church Built in Louisiana in 1890

Hope Villa was the first SDA church built in Louisiana. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The first Seventh-day Adventist church built in Louisiana was at Hope Villa in 1890 on some land donated by the Broussard family (Evans, 1958; cf. Encyclopedia, 1996). This later became the Hobart church, and in 1958 the congregation became the Gonzales church.

First Seventh-day Adventist Black Church in Louisiana Organized in 1892

The first black church in the area of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference was organized at New Orleans, Louisiana, on June 4, 1892. This was the result of the work of Charles M. Kinny, a pioneer black minister, who had found six black SDA’s in the city on his arrival the preceding October (Kinny, 1892). He later reported the newly founded church as the fourth black church in the denomination and the oldest church in the Southwest Region Conference, when it was organized in 1950 (SDA Encyclopedia, 1966a). For many years this was known as the New Orleans Church No. 2. In 1946, it was voted that the term “Colored” be used in church names instead of the No. 2 designation, so this became the New Orleans Colored Church (Minutes, 1946). Black churches in Louisiana were part of the Louisiana Conference, then the Louisiana-Mississippi Conference, and later the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference until 1947.

Louisiana Conference Organized in 1901

Crowley, Louisiana, where the Louisiana Conference was organized. Crowley was about thirty miles from Welsh, the nearest church.

The first Louisiana SDA camp meeting was held in a grove outside the city limits of Alexandria in July 1898. A second camp meeting followed in 1899 at Welsh, Louisiana, and a third in 1900 at Marthaville. Louisiana was listed as a mission field of the General Conference until the fourth camp meeting, held in Crowley in 1901. Crowley was chosen because the Adventist message was new to the area, so meetings continued after camp meeting ended. Members came from Welsh, Marthaville, Mansfield, Shreveport, Hope Villa, Lake Charles, and New Orleans. It was at the conference session at Crowley that the Louisiana Conference was organized and became part of the Southern Union Conference. The conference headquarters were in New Orleans, with the official beginning date August 1, 1901 (Horton, 1901). At that time there were six churches and one company, 178 members, and two ordained ministers (Statistical Report, 1901). Camp meeting continued to be held every year except in 1902 when it was thought best to postpone camp meeting and the conference session until after harvest, and in 1905 when it was cancelled due to an outbreak of yellow fever (Review, 1905).

(Daily Signal, 1901)

Headquarters for the Work

The General Conference recognized that New Orleans, as the “commercial and cultural center of the South” and the “gateway to Central and South America” needed to have a stronger denominational presence than just a local conference office and a couple of small churches. In 1905, the General Conference, the Southern Union Conference, and the Louisiana Conference joined together to purchase a two-story twelve-room house at 810 Jackson Avenue in New Orleans. The building was to house offices for the General Conference Transportation Department for missionaries arriving and departing, and the Religious Liberty Department. Southern Publishing Association maintained a book depository there and a missionary training class used part of the building (Beeler, 1996). The local church met there from 1907 to 1912 and both a black school and a white school met in the building from 1916 to 1920 (Times-Democrat, 1907; Yearbook, 1917-1920).


Citations

See arklasdahistory.org for citations.

George Charles Dart

George Charles Dart, who served as principal of Ozark Adventist Academy from 1996-2002, died March 3, 2012, in Loma Linda, California. Born July 8, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, Elder Dart served the church for more than 50 years as pastor, educator and administrator. He is survived by his second wife, Connie Stewart Dart (his first wife, Naomi Vartenuk, pre-deceased Dart in 1996); four children, Chuck (Sherri), Cheri (Alan), Jed (Lee Lee) and Jolene (Kent); and grandchildren Chad, Kristi, Caroline and Heidi.

Elder Dart started his ministry in Sandusky, Ohio, where he was a singing evangelist. He later became pastor of the Mansfield church and Bible teacher at Mt. Vernon Academy. In 1957, Elder Dart became principal of Blue Mountain Academy in Pennsylvania. In 1964, Elder Dart was called to Texas to pastor the Keene church, and then served as president of the Texas Conference. In 1975, he became principal of Milo Academy in Oregon and eventually superintendent of schools for the Oregon Conference.

“Papa” Dart as he was known by the Ozark Adventist Academy students.

After his retirement, Elder Dart served as principal of Ozark Adventist Academy. In 1986, Elder Dart accepted a call to be president of the Southern California Conference, where he served until he retired again in 1993. This retirement was short-lived, as he accepted a call to again serve as principal of Milo Academy. Two years later, Elder Dart moved to Ozark Adventist Academy, to serve again as principal. When he finally retired for good in 2002, Elder Dart and Connie moved to her hometown of Parkersburg, West Virginia, where he volunteered at the local church. In 2005, the Darts returned to California.

Louisiana-Mississippi Conference Organized

Capitol Street in downtown Jackson, Mississippi.

On December 8, 1920, delegates of both Louisiana and Mississippi met for an organizational meeting at which they voted to unite the two states into a new conference beginning January 1, 1921, with headquarters in Jackson, Mississippi (Cole, 1920). Louisiana brought thirteen churches, 673 members, four ordained and two licensed ministers, eight teachers, and seven church schools (Encyclopedia, 1996). Mississippi brought seventeen churches, 471 members, four ordained ministers, and four teachers (Yearbook, 1921). Elder W. R. Elliott was called from the Tennessee River Conference to the presidency of the new Louisiana-Mississippi Conference (Worker, 1920). Most of the growth over the next eleven years was in the city churches. Small town and rural church growth fluctuated frequently with very little significant change in number of members.