By GRACE GADDY
Standing in their own field of dreams – gold-bladed shovels in hand – committee members and partners of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center broke ground Wednesday morning for construction to begin on the new Camp Hearn and Bagley Hall, which will replace the Windham Dormitory Complex.
The groundbreaking is a big step for the the Methodist camp and conference center, made possible after a $6.5 million grant was received from the Moody Memorial Permanent Endowment Fund in February.
A longtime supporter of Lakeview, Moody Memorial PEF is a part of the Moody Methodist Church in Galveston and of the Texas Annual Conference of the Methodist Church.
Wednesday's groundbreaking brought the camp one step closer to completing a $15 million capital campaign titled “For Such a Time as This,” which looks to renovate and expand camp facilities over the next four years.
The new Camp Hearn and Bagley Hall facilities are expected to be ready for use by summer of 2015, with a 10-month estimated timeframe for construction.
The facilities were named for the Rev. Bert Bagley, pastor of Moody Methodist Church in Galveston, and Bishop Woodrow Hearn, bishop in residence at the church, who both were present for the groundbreaking ceremony.
Hearn publicly thanked the staff of Lakeview, who he said “make it all possible,” and noted Superintendent Rev. Matt Idom.
“The visionary leadership that Matt has given to this facility and to its future is remarkable, really remarkable,” Hearn said.
Bagley reminisced of earlier days spent at the conference center, working as a camp counselor and falling in love with the grounds – along with his spouse, who he met there.
“I just have to let you know, at Windham (Dormitory Complex), the summer of '73, that's when I fell in love with Karen by the way – we were co-counselors,” Bagley told those in attendance. “So it has been a lot of years. We appreciate so much all the things that have happened here.”
Bagley added that to have his name next to Hearn's on the new facilities was “really an honor.”
The groundbreaking was met with clicking cameras and applause from those in attendance, which included members of the building committee, architects, construction company and longtime supporters and friends of Lakeview.
One of those supporters was former Major League Baseball outfielder Wally Moon, who played 12 years in the National League for the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Moon, a member of the campaign cabinet, said he'd first gotten connected to the center through Idom, who had served as his minister previously at First United Methodist Church in Bryan-College Station.
“Matt came here and triggered that pretty much,” he said. “And my two youngest daughters served as Fish Camp counselors here at Lakeview.
Moon said he was excited about the prospect of Lakeview's continual growth.
“I've known lots of people who have loved coming here – it's really an exciting place,” he said. “Great things are going to happen here.”
Arthur Davis, another supporter, made the drive from Pasadena to show his support during the groundbreaking. Davis has been coming to the camp – as a camper and counselor – since 1954.
“I was a little sentimental about Windham going away, but it's time,” Davis said. “And (the new complex) is also expanding how many people will be able to come, because it holds almost 100 people more than Windham itself.”
The relocation of Windham Dormitory Complex by Camp Hearn and Bagley Hall comes as the second big step in the conference center's $15 million campaign. Relocation of the Sisk Maintenance Shop (completed November 2013) preceded the groundbreaking of Camp Hearn and Bagley Hall. Still in the planning stages is the replacement of the Wesley Dormitory Complex, as well as renovations to Roy Hall, Snack Shack and the game room.
Plans to build an up-scale RV park and a rustic scout camp on Lake Wilson also are in the works, along with plans to create new hiking and biking trails, improve landscaping and design of the central plaza and make infrastructure improvements.
For more information, or to donate to the For Such a Time as This Capital Campaign, contact Brandy Kines, director of development and marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 903-538-2711.