Originally published by the El Dorado Springs Sun
Most locals know that the property east of town, which features a 40 acre lake, belonged to the United Methodist Church and served as a summer camp for the Methodist youth in Missouri. In the 65 years since the Southwest Missouri Conference of the Methodist Church purchased it, the property has been used for religious training in a fun summer camp atmosphere.
When the church took possession, the campsite was largely undeveloped with hillsides covered with timber, native rocks and shrubs, ticks and copperheads. It had a large flat valley area suitable for general recreation. El Dorado Springs was the approximate geographic center of the conference and could be reached easily by all the church groups that would use the camp.
But when the camp officially closed in 2014, its future was uncertain. Now, it is in the hands of local individuals who want to see it continue as a part of the El Dorado Springs experience.
Last week the Sun asked the Houshs and the Fugates about the future of Camp Galilee.
What made you decide to purchase this property?
We knew it was going to be put up for auction. Initially there were several parties interested in the property. We were interested in leaving it intact and operating it as a camp. Others were interested in it as an investment and possibly selling it off in several tracts. After many prayers and discussions we decided to try to purchase it.
How did you four come together to buy it?
We are close friends and have a mutual interest in the property.
Did any of you think in the past that if the property ever came up for sale that you would like to own it?
Not really. We all think it is a beautiful property. We have always admired it and felt it to be a wonderful part of our community.
How many acres are involved? 191
What will you use the property for?
We want to see it used similarly to what it has been in the past. It is a camp. It has always been a camp and has everything needed to continue in that direction. We want to expand the accessibility to the facility and broaden the usage of the entire property.
Q. Will there be any physical changes in the property?
A. Not really. We plan to leave it intact. It hasn’t been used for nearly two years, so there are some normal repairs and some maintenance repairs to be made. For the most part it is in very good condition. We currently have the Dining Hall ready to be used.
How will local ownership be of benefit to the property and the surrounding area?
A. As private owners we have a vested interest in the operations and success of the camp. We live here in the community and all the decisions will be made in the best interest of the camp.
Will your intended use for this property create jobs for people in this area?
A. Yes. At this time we can’t determine how many. We will hire a General Manager to operate the camp. The dining hall will need cooks and support staff as it is utilized. In the summer, we will need people to do maintenance work and upkeep on the property. As we expand usage of the camp, it will require more people.
Will there be opportunities for other people to invest in whatever enterprise you have in mind?
It’s hard to say at this time. That may be a possibility. As stated, our first priority, at this time, is to continue to operate a camp and dining hall. The property is large and the potential usage for it is amazing. We have over 120 acres of timber area. There is a beautiful eight acre lake. There are over 40 structures on the property including 17 cabins, three houses, a large open air pavilion with seating, stage and sound system, another large open air pavilion, and several smaller open air structures. There is a large swimming pool and eight full service RV hook ups. At this time we are open to suggestions as to how to utilize the camp.
Will you allow individuals to hunt and fish on the property?
No. It is all locked and posted. We are anticipating all usage of the property to be organized events.
Will you allow people in this area to rent the structures on this property for events such as weddings?
Absolutely. We want to utilize the property to full potential. There have been weddings in the past and we will continue that usage. We anticipate having family reunions, class reunions, business gatherings, Church functions by all the area Churches, etc. We will be very open to these kinds of activities. We want to make sure that anyone can rent the dinning hall at any time. It is available to rent for any kind of private function.
Will you own it as individuals or as a corporation?
The property is owned by Galilee LLC, a partnership between the Houshs and the Fugates. The operation of the camp will be through a separate non-profit corporation. We feel the operation as a local non- profit will open up the camp for more usage opportunities than in the past.
Will you continue such old traditions as the end of school field trip and new ones as the Christmas lights?
Yes. We fully intend to make it available for all those activities. Again, we are open to suggestions on how to utilize the facility. We are particularly open to youth activities.
The Camp Galilee blog exists to be a helpful resource to alumni as well as future campers and their parents.