In 1965, Brother John Aulds became pastor of Friendship Congregational Christian Church in Baxley, Georgia. This church was part of a group of churches in Georgia that met twice a year for encouragement and fellowship. The churches had several youth, but the group’s camping program had ceased to exist. Pastor Aulds had previous experience with camping in Louisiana with another fellowship of churches, as well as in Kansas.
Knowing the value of camp ministry, he asked permission to begin a camping program for the South Georgia Association of Congregational Christian Churches. With members from some of the churches working together, they rented the Mount Bethel Camp near Ashburn Georgia from 1966 through 1973 to have one week of camp for all ages. Pastor Aulds asked three pastors and a few faithful young adults from Southern Louisiana to come to help for the first few years. Campers and volunteers from ten or more churches in Middle and South Georgia also came, and the endeavor was a great success. It was so much so that the churches, after a few years, wanted land to build their own camp.
Mr. Millard Easler, a businessman from Crawford County, donated fifty acres of land on July 24, 1970, to this group of churches. The camp was named, Camp Eunice, in memory of Mr. Easler’s wife, who loved children but never had any of her own. Many volunteers from the group of churches began to clear the land and build. They had a camp work day once a month during those years. In 1974, they held their first camp with a record attendance of 133 campers. The only standing buildings at the time were a dining hall with an adult lodging wing and a kitchen, a canteen, and two dormitories. Chapel services were held in the dining room. Ray Carpenter and sons brought the materials from Tifton to build the Canteen.
Everyone agreed after that summer that in order to meet the rising needs of more campers, one week of camp would no longer be sufficient. In 1975 they hosted two weeks of camp, one for older campers and a second one for younger ones. The senior camp was always first, soon after school in June, in order for the older teens to work in summer jobs, if desired. The second camp was in July.
Other building projects soon followed. A chapel was built around 1979 that included rooms for classes. A storage building was moved in, part of which was used for adult lodging during those early years. It was later turned into a caretaker’s cottage around 1981. Also during the early years, a small building to house the pump and to provide more adult lodging was built next to the dining hall. The lodging part was later turned into an office. A craft room addition to the adult lodging wing off of the dining room was built around 1985. It was later turned into more rooms for adult lodging. A pavilion was built around that time beside the pump house/lodging area to cover a couple of ping-pong tables. This area has been a popular gathering place during camp sessions. A big recreation shelter was added in 2002 or 2003. The floor under it was filled with sand and has been used during the last years for games on rainy days and, in July, on hot sunny days, also. In 2005, two mobile classroom trailers were donated to the camp. In 2003, a third week of camp was added for beginners. After a few years, this camp was shortened to a half week. The younger campers didn’t get so homesick and more volunteers were possible.
During the last 20 years, some of the faithful workers at camp have changed locations and are now attending other good churches. They have wanted to stay involved in the Camp Eunice ministry. It has meant so much to them. These workers have also influenced other Godly volunteers to be involved with Camp Eunice as often as they can.
Bro. Aulds has been blessed to be camp director since 1966 in Ashburn and since 1974 at Camp Eunice, working alongside the members of the camp board and other Godly volunteers. God has supplied the chapel speakers, workers, teachers, and campers all these years to make the camps possible, sometimes not knowing until the last minute who would be able to help. He has also used many different people, at different times, to add variety and new activities, etc. There was one camp, in the mid 1990’s, when Bro. Jim Lugo directed the camp. Everyone that God has brought together has had a heart to work for Him for salvation for the unbelievers and Christian growth for the believers. Each week of camp has ministered to adults as well as the campers. It is such a blessing to see God at work, orchestrating all for His glory.
Bro. John Aulds has served as Camp Eunice Director from 1966 to the present, except that one camp. He has also served as pastor of many of the churches that participate in the camping program. His five children have been blessed and challenged by its ministry. All five of them have graduated from the Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham, Alabama. They are all actively attending church and serving our Lord, except for Danny. He loved and served the Lord before he died in 1995.
Many former Camp Eunice campers are serving our Lord today in various ways and places. Many of our older camper teens enjoy returning, after their senior camp week, to help with the beginner and junior camp weeks. They are asked to prepare spiritually, and work closely with the camp leaders. They are also asked to apply by May 15th each year, have a recommendation from their pastor or youth worker, and write out a testimony of how they came to know the Lord and why they want to work at camp. They are called counselors in training, or CITs.
We have a camp planning and training retreat at the end of February each year to make plans for the coming summer camps. Any teens from the churches, who participate as workers each year, are asked to try to attend. Any adults who can plan already to attend that summer are asked to come, also, to help plan and encourage. This retreat is meant to spiritually encourage and, in a limited way, to help to train the CITs. We try to find out those who can commit to various responsibilities and who will plan ahead. The camp director is able to line up a lot of the workers for each camp this way. He is able to let the churches know of the needs by March or in the next few months before the summer camps.