|“…for the most good to the Baptists of north Missouri” was the stated reason for the purchase of a property known as Campbell’s Country Club. It was 1946 and just ten years past the great depression. World War II had just ended and the Country Club, which once had grand plans, had fallen on hard times. The previous summer a group of local church ladies and pastors had requested permission to conduct a week of summer camp on the property and that experience led to a vision of grand plans of a different sort for the site. The property was offered for sale and a group of Baptist leaders from all over north Missouri came together and secured the funds to purchase approximately 57 acres for $7000. They formed the “North Missouri Baptist Assembly” and held the first week long missions conference the following summer. |
Improvements were quickly undertaken along with the hiring of a caretaker and soon the project took on a focus of serving youth and children. Within just a few years the name of the facility was changed to “Grand Oaks Baptist Assembly”—a nod to the great number of old oak trees on the property which borders the Thompson River, a part of the Grand River basin. At the time of purchase, the property had several cabins scattered about as well as The Lodge, a building that served as a meeting hall for the country club. The Lodge was constructed in 1928 using logs salvaged from various cabins and buildings up the river. Today the Lodge still serves as a rustic meeting space and has been undergoing a loving restoration.
Four distinct “building booms” have been undertaken over the years. In the 1950s surplus army barrack kits as well as material from no longer needed veterans housing were used to construct Parker Hall, Pierce Hall and King-Hurst Hall. Parker and Pierce are still in use. In the late 1960s a series of block cabins were constructed to vastly improve the sleeping facilities of the camp. Today those block buildings are known as the Riverview Cabins and Hilltop Cabins. The Nurse’s building is also from this era and has been recently remodeled.
As always, time marched on taking its toll and around 1983 the leaders of the camp came to the conclusion that they needed to “either fix the place up or shut it down!” This ultimatum led to a large capital improvement campaign known as “Together We Build” and resulted in the construction of a concrete pad for basketball and volleyball, a large swimming pool and a new Chapel. The success of the campaign left enough funds to undertake the construction of the Retreat Center—a self contained conference facility for groups of up to 54 persons—to replace the aging King-Hurst building. In the late 1990s another Capital Campaign called “Building for Tomorrow, Today” produced a new Dining Hall, Staff Cabins and improvements to our recreational offerings, particularly in the pool.
Today Grand Oaks continues the vision of serving youth and children. The purpose as stated in our Constitution is “…to win the lost, disciple the saved, and train persons in Christian service.” The philosophy of the Board in decision making concerning improvements and policy is to first serve our core group, but if in doing so, others may be served also, then so be it. Consequently, Grand Oaks remains primarily a summer camp serving youth and children. However we also make our facilities available to other groups when available as long as the group is not in opposition to our beliefs as a Christian organization. Each year several family reunions are held here as well as special events and retreats for various denominations. Those events range from outdoor campcraft training to the semi annual quilting weekends of the local Serendipity Quilting Guild.
Thousands of young people have attended camps at Grand Oaks and year after year approximately 10% of those attending profess faith in Christ or make other life changing decisions. God has truly blessed the vision of those early pioneers and has certainly honored the many gifts and hours of labor given to make Grand Oaks what it is today. We hope to see you at camp someday!