The Wilds Christian Association

Last updated
The Wilds Christian Association, Inc.
Industry Camping
Founder Ken Hay
Headquarters Brevard, North Carolina
Key people
Ken Hay
Ken Collier
Rand Hummel
Chris Anastos
Tim Meals
Matt Taylor
John Bott
Willie Partin
Susan Burke

The Wilds Christian Association, Inc. is a Protestant Christian organization, based in Brevard, North Carolina. The organization was founded by a group of Christians at Bob Jones University who recognized the need for a Christian camp in the Southeastern United States. In 1967, the group purchased a 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) property near Brevard, North Carolina and established The Wilds Christian Camp and Conference Center (commonly referred to as "The Wilds") about two years later. Today, The Wilds is one of the largest Christian camps in the United States. About 21,000 people attend annual retreats, while summer camp averages 1,100 to 1,200 campers per week.

Christianity is a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Brevard, North Carolina City in North Carolina, United States

Brevard is a city in Transylvania County, North Carolina, United States, with a population of 7,609 as of the 2010 Census. It is the county seat of Transylvania County.

Bob Jones University

Bob Jones University (BJU) is a private, non-denominational Evangelical university in Greenville, South Carolina, known for its conservative cultural and religious positions. The college, with approximately 2,500 students, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools. The university's athletic teams, the Bruins, compete in Division II of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). In 2008, the university estimated the number of its graduates at 35,000; in 2017, 40,184.


The Wilds of the Rockies opened in 1987 near Kremmling, Colorado, though the property was sold in 2004 and converted to a residential development. A third camp, The Wilds of New England, was established in Deering, New Hampshire in 2009. Additionally, CampsAbroad was founded in 2001, which is an international program assisting Christian camping ministries in 40 countries. The Wilds Christian Association is supported by more than 300 churches, and more than 250,000 campers have attended its summer camp programs. The Wilds has a year-round staff of forty and a summer staff of about 270. [1]

Kremmling, Colorado Statutory Town in Colorado, United States

The Town of Kremmling is a Statutory Town in Grand County, Colorado, United States. The town population was 1444 at the 2010 United States Census. The town sits along the upper Colorado River in the lower arid section of Middle Park between Byers Canyon and Gore Canyon. The town was founded in 1881 during the Colorado Silver Boom days, but the lack of mineral resources in the nearby mountains made the town grow very slowly in the early days.

Deering, New Hampshire Town in New Hampshire, United States

Deering is a town in Hillsborough County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 1,912 at the 2010 census.

Summer camp supervised program for children or teenagers conducted during the summer months

A summer camp or sleepaway camp is a supervised program for children or teenagers conducted during the summer months in some countries. Children and adolescents who attend summer camp are known as campers. Summer school is usually a required academic curriculum for a student to make up work not accomplished during the academic year, whereas summer camps can include academic work, but is not a requirement for graduation.


The Chapel at the Fremont Inn Fremont Inn Chapel.JPG
The Chapel at the Fremont Inn

The Wilds is a conservative, fundamentalist, Protestant organization. Although not affiliated with any denomination, many sponsors are Independent Baptist and Bible churches.

Conservatism is a political and social philosophy promoting traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. The central tenets of conservatism include tradition, human imperfection, hierarchy, authority, and property rights. Conservatives seek to preserve a range of institutions such as monarchy, religion, parliamentary government, and property rights, with the aim of emphasizing social stability and continuity. The more extreme elements—reactionaries—oppose modernism and seek a return to "the way things were".

Christian denomination identifiable Christian body with common name, structure, and doctrine

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Independent Baptist Christian protestant denomination

Independent Baptist churches are Christian congregations, generally holding to conservative Baptist beliefs. The term independent refers to the doctrinal position of church autonomy and a refusal to join any affiliated Baptist denomination, convention or hierarchical structure.

The Wilds' mission statement is succinctly stated in the camp verse: "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (I Corinthians 10:31). The Wilds seeks to evangelize non-Christian campers and encourage spiritual growth among Christian campers by combining Bible study, personal discipleship, and religious services with recreational activity. [2]

Evangelism spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the purpose of conversion or a rapprochement with Christianity

In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Camping ministries

North Carolina

The Wilds Christian Camp/Conference Center is located near Rosman, North Carolina (with a mailing address in Brevard). The camp property contains approximately 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land through which Toxaway Creek flows. Four main waterfalls on the Toxaway are on The Wilds' property and are common hiking destinations for campers.

Rosman, North Carolina Town in North Carolina, United States

Rosman is a town in Transylvania County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 576 at the 2010 census. The northern terminus of U.S. Route 178 is less than one mile northwest of Rosman on U.S. Route 64.


In the late 1960s, a group of people recognized the need for a Christian camp in the Southeastern United States. [3] In 1967, the group discovered the property in Transylvania County, North Carolina, and first incorporated as "Hemlock Hills Christian Association" because of the abundance of hemlock trees on the property. Then someone recalled Socrates' death from drinking hemlock, and they decided to call the camp "The Wilds", a reflection of Jesus having urged His disciples to rest awhile in a secluded place. (Mark 6: 31) [4] Although the group had few resources, they eventually obtained funds to purchase the 810-acre tract of land in Transylvania County, North Carolina. [3] By 1969, The Wilds was established by Ken Hay, Walter Fremont, Joe Henson, and Carl D. Blyth Sr., [5] who knew each other from their association at Bob Jones University. [6]

Southeastern United States Region

The Southeastern United States is broadly, the eastern portion of the Southern United States, and the southern portion of the Eastern United States. It comprises at least a core of states on the lower Atlantic seaboard and eastern Gulf Coast. Expansively, it includes everything south of the Mason-Dixon line, the Ohio River and the 36°30' parallel, and as far west as Arkansas and Louisiana. There is no official U.S. government definition of the region, though various agencies and departments use different definitions.

Transylvania County, North Carolina County in the United States

Transylvania County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of the 2010 census, the population was 33,090. Its county seat is Brevard.

<i>Tsuga</i> genus of plants

Tsuga is a genus of conifers in the subfamily Abietoideae. The common name hemlock is derived from a perceived similarity in the smell of its crushed foliage to that of the unrelated plant poison hemlock. Unlike the latter, Tsuga species are not poisonous.


The camp is one of the largest Christian camps in the United States. During the summer, the camp averages between 1,100 and 1,200 campers each week. Throughout the rest of the year the camp hosts specialized retreats that attract 21,000 attendees annually. [1]

The campsite facilities include staff residences, an inn and chapel, dormitory and craft shop, cabins, dining hall, main office building, and a large multi-purpose building (used as an indoor basketball venue and a 1,300 seat auditorium). The property includes a man-made lake, Toxaway Creek and waterfalls, basketball courts, and athletic fields. There are also several leisure activities available such as a water slide, land trolley (zip-line), and a 65-foot (20 m) "Giant Swing."

First Falls (top) and Second Falls (bottom) First and Second Falls.JPG
First Falls (top) and Second Falls (bottom)
Fourth Falls Fourth Falls.JPG
Fourth Falls

The Wilds' section of Toxaway Creek has several waterfalls, which are numbered going downstream.

Coordinates: 35°5′10.5″N82°52′17.5″W / 35.086250°N 82.871528°W / 35.086250; -82.871528


The Wilds of the Rockies opened in 1987 near Kremmling, Colorado and operated near Rabbit Ears Pass and Muddy Pass until it was closed in 2004 due to community issues. The Wilds sold the property to longtime supporters Jeff and Linda Peotter, and the property became a residential development. [7]

New Hampshire

In 2007, camp operations began at The Wilds of New England at rented facilities. The Wilds purchased land by Lake Winnipesaukee, near Meredith, but securing permits was difficult and "the property, though beautiful, was near enough to the town to bring a number of disadvantages." In 2009, the Meredith property was sold, and The Wilds assumed the mortgage of another camp property in Deering, New Hampshire. [8] In 2007, the Board appointed Rand Hummel, Assistant Director of The Wilds in North Carolina, as the director of The Wilds of New England.


CampsAbroad is a worldwide consulting program used by The Wilds to assist the cause of Christian camping around the world. The program is designed to help already established camps, as well as churches who want to start new camping ministries. [9] Training and materials are provided to ministries at no charge, but The Wilds name is not used by these camping ministries outside the United States. [10]


The Wilds produces Bible study guides, topical studies, songbooks, recorded music, and books of activity ideas for church youth groups. The Wilds is noted for its recordings of conservative Christian music produced by camp staff. [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

Sells, Arizona CDP in Arizona, United States

Sells is a census-designated place (CDP) in Pima County, Arizona, United States. The population was 2,799 at the 2000 census. It is the capital of the Tohono O'odham Nation and the home of several of their tribal businesses, such as Tohono O'Odham Ki:Ki Association. Originally named Indian Oasis, by cattle-ranchers/businessmen brothers, Joseph and Louis Ménager in 1912. The Ménager brothers also built and ran the Indian Oasis Mercantile Store. The settlement took its present English name in 1918 to honor Indian Commissioner Cato Sells. The O'odham name means "Tortoise Got Wedged".

Gorges State Park

Gorges State Park is a 7,709-acre (31.20 km2) North Carolina state park in Transylvania County, North Carolina in the United States. The land, along Jocassee Gorges, was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation in 1999. It is North Carolina's westernmost state park and one of the state's newest. The park is adjacent to part of the Pisgah National Forest and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission's Toxaway Game Land. Gorges State Park provides the principal access to the Horsepasture River on these adjoining public lands.

Nottely River river in the United States of America

The Nottely River is a river in the United States. The river originates in the Blue Ridge Mountains in northern Georgia. The river flows for 51.1 miles (82.2 km) into the artificial Hiwassee Reservoir in North Carolina. The Nottely River is dammed in Georgia, creating Lake Nottely.

Calvin Crest or Calvin Crest Conferences is a private Christian campsite near Oakhurst, California, USA. Calvin Crest was established by the San Joaquin Presbytery of California in 1954.

Brevard College

Brevard College is a small, private, experiential liberal arts college in Brevard, North Carolina, United States. The college grants the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree. Current enrollment is about 703 students.


Bonclarken is a conference center located in Flat Rock, North Carolina operated by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP). Bonclarken is the conference center of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is a conservative evangelical Christian denomination that traces its roots to the Reformation, particularly the work of John Calvin and John Knox. It is used to accommodate guests of 500 people during the summer and 400 people during the winter. Bonclarken has two fully equipped kitchens and conference centers that can hold up to 1200 people in their meeting centers.

Kenneth Edward Hay is the founder of The Wilds, a fundamentalist camp and conference center.

James Rand Hummel is an American author, preacher and camp administrator. He has worked for many years as Assistant Director of The Wilds Christian Camp/Conference Center in Brevard, North Carolina and in 2007, he was named Director of THE WILDS of New England in Deering, New Hampshire.


WLFA is a radio station broadcasting a contemporary Christian music format to Asheville, North Carolina and the surrounding area. The station is currently owned by Radio Training Network, Inc. and is part of its "His Radio" network. The station mostly simulcasts programming from flagship WLFJ-FM in Greenville, South Carolina; which operates translators in nearby Hendersonville, Weaverville and Black Mountain.

Adventure Links (AL) is an ACA-Accredited experiential education organization located in the Hemlock Overlook Regional Park of Clifton, VA near Washington, DC. With an emphasis on youth development, Adventure Links facilitates summer camps, high adventure outings and team building programs to schools, youth organizations, corporations and adult groups in the local metro area as well as the neighboring states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

The Pines Catholic Camp, located in Big Sandy, Texas outside of Tyler and 2 hours east of Dallas, is a Catholic summer camp and retreat center. As and accredited camp with the American Camp Association (ACA), The Pines seeks to continue to “change lives one child at a time.” Although not affiliated with any dioceses, The Pines has a close relationship with the Roman Catholic diocese of Dallas and follows all of their Safe Environment Guidelines.

Gwynn Valley is a children's summer camp in Brevard, North Carolina. The camp serves girls and boys finishing kindergarten through tenth grade. It was founded in 1935 by Mary Gwynn.

Camp Firwood

Camp Firwood is a Christian summer camp situated on Lake Whatcom, southeast of Bellingham, Washington. It is part of "The Firs", a Christian camp and retreat ministry that is in good standing with the Christian Camp and Conference Association.

Falling Creek Camp

Falling Creek Camp is a residential camp for boys in Tuxedo, North Carolina. Falling Creek was founded in 1968 by Jim Miller. Four sessions are held each summer, and range from six- to 27-day camps.

Camp Rockmont for Boys

Camp Rockmont for Boys is an American Camp Association accredited Christian residential boys' summer camp in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Rockmont was founded in 1956 on the former campus of Black Mountain College. There are four "classic" sessions held each summer, as well as a one week starter session. Within the classic sessions are a three and four week option for more experienced campers. Capacity for each session is about 400 boys, with each session varying slightly depending on enrollment.

Camp Greystone is a Christian summer camp for girls located near Tuxedo, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. The camp offers sessions ranging in length from 1 week to 5 weeks for girls ages 5–17. Sessions begin in late May and continue through mid-August.

South Toe River river in the United States of America

The South Toe River is a river in Mitchell, Yancey and McDowell counties in Western North Carolina. The name Toe is taken from its original name Estatoe, pronounced 'S - ta - toe', a native American name associated with the Estatoe trade route leading down from the NC mountains through Brevard where there is a historical plaque with information that affirms the route, on into South Carolina where a village of the same name was located.

Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) is a state-run, two-year community college in North Carolina founded in 1969. It has a Henderson County campus in Flat Rock, North Carolina, and a Transylvania County campus in Brevard, North Carolina. Its current president is Laura Leatherwood Ed.D.


  1. 1 2 Abe Hardesty, "Hay's ministry took root in N.C. mountains," Greenville News, November 24, 2010, City People, 4.
  2. "About The Wilds". The Wilds Christian Association. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  3. 1 2 "An Amazing Work of God". The Wilds Christian Association. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  4. Collier & Hay, 12-13. The corporate name was changed in 1987. There is no relationship between the hemlock tree and the shrub used as a means of execution in the ancient world.
  5. Carl Dennett Blyth, Sr. (November 23, 1937 - July 12, 2010) was a native of Boston and a graduate of Tabor Academy, Stetson University, Georgia Tech, and BJU. He had inherited wealth and therefore could provide start-up funds for the project. Greenville News, July 15, 2010, 4B.
  6. Ken Collier and Ken Hay, All to the Glory of God (Taylors, SC: The Wilds Christian Association, 2009), 3-13.
  7. Collier & Hay, 73-74.
  8. Collier & Hay, 75-76.
  9. "About CampsAbroad". The Wilds Christian Association. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  10. Collier & Hay, 74-75.
  11. "Online Store". The Wilds Christian Association. 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2011.

Further reading