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Project Highlight - Camp Kum-Ba-Ya
May 10th, 2024  |  by

On scenic Kentucky Lake near Benton, KY is a Christian camp nestled on 45 wooded acres perfect for fishing, hiking, and so much more. Camp Kum-Ba-Ya is a retreat center and children’s summer camp run by Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) In Kentucky. Our Western KY staff has long-lasting connections with this camp. Dylan, Operation Recovery Group Coordinator,  attended the camp as a child, and the new camp director has been on mission trips to Operation Recovery.

Repairing the camp sign

This spring groups serving in Western KY got the chance to complete some needed renovations and updates to the camp’s facilities in preparation for the summer season. Dylan listed a few of the ongoing projects around camp, “painting cabins, cleaning for summer season, clearing trails, fixing golf carts, general maintenance, and building wheelchair ramps for the cabins.” 

The first group to serve at Camp Kum-Ba-Ya was Reach out on Campus (ROC), a college ministry in two universities in southern Ohio. “Our group found themselves at a local church camp called Camp Kum-Ba-Ya,” shared campus minister Dodger Vaughn in a newsletter update. “The team spent the week helping them get ready to host students this summer by working on everything from wheelchair ramps, to painting projects, to landscaping work. The camp loved our students and raved about what a great team they were.”

Repairs, painting, and building ramps for the cabins

The camp continued to rave about the volunteer crew on Facebook, “Camp Kum-Ba-Ya has been so very blessed this week to have had an amazing volunteer crew from Ohio, through Crossroads Missions. The Reach Out on Campus-Rio Grande Campus crew worked incredibly hard this week and got so many wonderful things accomplished around camp. Thanks for helping us extend our hospitality to more children, youth, and adults.” 

ROC member Isaac Blank reciprocated the praise by commenting, “Thanks for having us, we all had an amazing week. I’m glad my group and I were able to be there to work and have fun! Hoping to be back someday soon.” The whole group had a great experience and continued to post, “What an amazing mission trip in Kentucky working with Operation Recovery. We are thankful that we were able to bless Camp Kum-Ba-Ya, and thank you to the camp following us to stay there for a night and enjoy some kayaking and other camp shenanigans.”

ROC students having fun at Camp Kum-Ba-Ya

In April the work continued with a group from Galilee Christian Church. “They are a very hard working group and such a blessing to those they served,” praised Dylan. “They spent most of the work working at Camp Kum-Ba-Ya doing things like painting, clearing trails, general maintenance, cleaning, and just helping the camp get ready for their summer season in general.”

Camp Kum-Ba-Ya was again excited and moved by the work of our volunteers, “We really appreciate all of the help and stewardship of the campground as we prepare for another summer of ministry.” The camp’s ministry includes Christian camp weeks, some with specific themes for special interests. The week that most struck Galilee is Camp Agape.

This week of camp is specifically for middle school students who are currently living in foster care. “Camp Agape combines Camp Kum-Ba-Ya’s spiritual mission of sharing God’s love, community, and belonging with the emotional support, mentoring, and instruction in practical, everyday skills that youth in foster care will need in life,” explains their promotional flier. 

Brian LaRue, Youth Minister at Galilee, shared that learning about Camp Agape deepened their connection to the camp: “A lot of our kids go to camp every summer, and they see the value and how important it is. And interestingly enough, we have a handful of kids that went through the foster system. So they got to see that this camp cares about kids like them. As a foster parent myself, it had a big impact. There is that verse about taking care of the orphaned and this is one of the places that does that.”

Galilee students enjoying quality time after the work day

Camp Kum-Ba-Ya is getting ready for their summer season, and we plan to continue helping them maintain and update their facilities! 


Ready to plan your trip to Western KY? Find out more and register on their website

DONATE to Operation Recovery to support projects like this and the ongoing tornado recovery efforts.

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