The next chapter is unfolding for Camp Paradise Valley…with unchangeable commitment. As part of the KT Gathering, the Divisional Leaders cast a vision for the new cabins and resulting camping experience — just part of the planned improvements coming for campers of all ages from The Salvation Army’s Kentucky & Tennessee Division.
Camp Paradise Valley has long been a place of retreat and renewal. This Paradise is tucked into two of the valleys formed by the mountains holding in Dale Hollow Lake. The Salvation Army purchased the camp from the Boy Scouts of America in 1963. With both periodic, major improvements and consistent, gradual development, Camp Paradise Valley has continued to grow and change with time.
More than a decade ago, in one of the “major improvement” efforts, Camp Paradise saw its first batch of “new cabins,” replacing the oldest cabins in the greatest need. Part of a capital campaign, the new American Camping Association (ACA) approved cabins made camp more accessible and enjoyable for participants. Now, in another major improvement effort, the remainder of the cabins will be replaced before the summer camping season of 2019.
On a Sunday morning, Major Jim Arrowood, Divisional Commander, addressed attendees from every command across the Kentucky & Tennessee Division. The backdrop for the unfolding vision was a banner depicting the new cabin style. This banner also served as a symbol for the time; on one end it was tied to an old cabin, and on the other it was held up by a piece of equipment that on the next day would be used to start demolition.
“We have waited long enough,” Arrowood said to a standing crowd. “Campers need accommodations that match the excellent programming here at Camp Paradise Valley.” The new cabin design and other planned updates will make that a reality for new and returning campers alike.
“It’s a step in faith,” Arrowood said as he discussed the plans to begin demolition of all of the old cabins the following day. “As faithful stewards of the public’s support, we knew we had to find the most economical way to make this dream into a reality.” Working with local contractors and builders and doing all the cabins at once realized huge cost savings. But that means tearing down all the remaining cabins, creating a risk of a housing shortage if there are any unforeseen complications in the construction schedule.
Michael and Joe Meyer, from Mercy Lane Construction participated in the ground breaking. “It’s a tight schedule, but we know we have to get it done for the campers,” Michael said. “This is a great project and will be a big improvement for campers across Kentucky and Tennessee.”
A sextet representing the KT Divisional Band offered a soundtrack to the festivities. Colonels Ralph and Susan Bukiewicz were on camp as the Special Guests for the weekend and helped in the long-awaited ground breaking. Captain Mark Love, Divisional Secretary for Business, led the service. And, Captains Matt and Danielle Cunningham, Divisional Youth Secretaries, made sure it went off without a hitch…even jumping on a dozer.
Memphis Area Commanders, Captain’s Zach and Shelley Bell, joined in the ground breaking to celebrate their community’s financial support in making the cabins possible. Captain Bell approached long-time mission partner, FedEx, with a support proposal that included the funding for the new cabins. Through the Bell’s hard work and FedEx’s loyal support, the dream of new cabins is becoming a reality.
The Camp Paradise Valley Facebook page will be keeping up with the construction process; providing regular updates.