Our History

1958 – Irvine UMC builds a spring fed swimming pool on their 84 acres at Fitchburg for their camping program called “Estill County Youth Center”.  Board of Education of the KY Conference looks for centrally located potential sites.

1959 – Campsite Location Committee recommends 190 acres be purchased in Estill County and that a Master Plan be established prior to development.

1960 – 106 acres purchased at Fitchburg. Irvine Methodist Church under the leadership of Rev. O.P. Smith, donates additional 84 acres and the existing swimming pool was purchased from the church. The Master Plan was begun.

For the next few years, summer camp was held with the boys housed in the old Masonic Lodge hall, girls in the Fitchburg one room school, and meals served out of an old farm house.

1961 – Two wells dug to supply water to the property but were unsuccessful.  $75,000 approved for construction of camp facilities.

1963 – Wurtland Methodist Church submitted the winning name and the camp was officially named “Aldersgate Methodist Camp.” Keys to the dining hall, bath house, tent platforms, water plant and sewer system were turned over to the camp committee.

1964 – Aldersgate formally opened May 24th with an open house and worship service.

1972 – Mr. Art Logue hired as first on site full-time manager. Art and Libby, his wife, served as camp manager and dietitian for 17 years.

1974 – O.P. Smith lodge winterized and 8 bedrooms built to house year round retreats.

1985 – Camp director’s residence completed. Additional 75 acres on west side purchased.

1989 – Art Logue retired and Rev Lee Padgett became first full-time on site camp director.  Cabin 8 is winterized for year round use.

1990 – Two day consultation and evaluation of program and facilities conducted with Chuck Kispaugh, U.M. National Camp Consultant.  Old swimming pool closed.  New Pool construction begins.

1991 – New swimming pool dedicated.  New volley ball court built.  Small gazebo built by Trinity Hill UMC volunteers.  (The larger) low water bridge replaced with concrete and steel bridge funded with state funds.  Aldersgate Camp Rd paved up to parking lot for the first time.  Craft hut upgraded.  New chandeliers made and placed in O. P. Smith Lodge.  Old chandeliers refurbished and placed along road leading in past barn.  Trail signs installed.  Bath house painted. Cottage 1 construction begins.  Camp property surveyed and plotted.  Timber management program begins.

1992 – Drainage system installed on trail to cabins and by entrance to West side of camp by Hinkle Contracting as a donation.  Timber Harvest begun on West side of camp.  Old swimming pool filled in.  Circle drive to cottage 1 completed.  Pond construction by Fitchburg Road begins.

1993 – Kaleidoscope, Inc. employed to conduct feasibility study. Cottage I completed with funding and labor from First United Methodist Church, Lexington. New Cabin #10 built by volunteers. Conference VIM teams began Cottage II.

1994 – Long Range Planning Committee formed to update master plan. Outpost camp constructed with volunteers.  Low Ropes course built through Signature, Inc..  Bath house winterization begun.

1995 – Old town pond dug out. Conference U.M. Men accept challenge to build Cottage III. Additional 14.75 acres including old Fitchburg General Store and old barn purchased along north boundary on December 13.

1996 – Cottage II complete. Camp office built. Bath house winterization completed. Updated master Plan presented to KY Annual conference.  Central AC added to O. P. Smith dining hall and kitchen.  Suspension Bridge built leading to Backpacking camp – constructed by a joint “uniting” effort between the formal Louisville Conference VIM team and the former KY Conference VIM team.

1997 – Thirty six acres purchased on North end of camp with new house at 51% completion.  Old Barn stabilized and stairs added to loft.  First camp “farm” animal donated – Delila, a sheep.  13 element High ropes course built with Signature Inc.

1998 – Original Aldersgate Camp Web Site created. Massive snow storm in February paralyses camp for 21 days and damages 11 buildings. Volunteers work for weeks cleaning up downed trees and repairing damage.   Dwight Rogers hired as full time maintenance director.  Creation Sensation, the Christian environmental education program, complete with farm animals including our first llama named Pumpkin, Lincoln, Larry; opened in old restored barn.  Blackie, the faithful camp dog of 12 years, died and was buried in camp pet cemetery  Aldersgate’s Capital Campaign: “a Bridge to Tomorrow” began.  Multi-purpose Chapel constructions begins.   Reid Buchanan hired as part time construction coordinator.

1999 – Recreational Vehicle Park begun. David Griffith hired as full time minister of construction.  Multi-purpose Chapel and Hill House construction continues.  Portable band saw mill purchased for cutting wood for construction.

2000 – Hill House completed. Chapel completed and dedicated on June 20th. Three horses (Show Dancer, Roscoe and Little Bit) donated to Creation Sensation.

2001 – Cottage 3 completed, built by camp staff and volunteers.  Basement addition of Chapel is completed.  Swimming Pool deck is enlarged and shaded pavilion built.

2003 – Asbury RV park dedicated.  Built by Asbury UMC, Covington District.

2004 – Megazebo constructed in Asbury RV Park.

2005 – Historic Fitchburg Furnace Stabilization work begins.  Aldersgate Program Director position goes full time.

2006 – Creek side Cottage ( Motel 4 ) completed.  Built by NOMADS and camp staff.

2007 – New basket ball court constructed.  Financed by Mars Hill home school parents.  Sidewalk to bath house construction begins.  New (smaller) low water bridge built by Estill Co. Road Crew (after concrete truck collapsed old one).  Horse trail established “up the holler” behind swimming pool.

2008 – Sidewalk to bath house construction continues.  Camping area established on neighboring 47 acres above camp. New cave discovered and named “Crescent Cave”. Nancy Bidwell hired as Administrative Assistant.

2009 – 2.3 acres purchased at entrance of camp including an historic oil storage tank and partially completed  house.  Foursquare/tether-ball court constructed.  Sidewalk to bath house construction continues.  Timber harvest conducted on East side of camp creating new hiking trails on the mountainside.  Cedar house project begins

2010 – Prayer labyrinth added, built by volunteer youth group from Tennessee.  Fitchburg Furnace stabilization project (phase I & II) is completed.  Old oil industry engine, vacuum pump and fly wheel brought from the oil fields and put on display.  Run River, inc. begins Master Plan process for all KY Conference Camps and Retreat Centers.  Cedar house project continues.

2011 – New Lodge and Dining Hall ground breaking ceremony on October 1st, 2011.  47 acres above camp on East Side is leased for usage.  Cedar house project continues. Lisa Conley-Conatser hired as Food Service Director.

2012 – Ga-Ga ball pit built by Anderson Hills UMC, Cincinnati OH. Joel & Amanda Bonner join the Aldersgate family as program directors. Larger side of Cedar House duplex is completed, and program directors move in.  NOMADS and other volunteers continue work on smaller side of Cedar House. Old Fitchburg general store facade work continues. New handicapped accessible Zip Line (made possible with funds provided by the Good Samaritan Foundation of KY.), is built utilizing cleared area left from 2009 timber harvest.  New horse arena fence built in front field.

2013 – In March 2013, Rev. Lee Padgett retires after 24 years as Camp Director from Aldersgate Camp to join his wife, Rev. Dr. Debbie Wallace-Padgett, in Alabama as she becomes Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Dave Cohn, former camp director of Camp Grier in Old Fort, NC,  joins the Aldersgate Camp family as the new full-time Camp Director along with his wife, Laura, and their two dogs, Blue and Cleatus.

NOMADS stabilize the covered bridge. New basketball goals are donated by Mars Hill Home School Group. Bathhouse is renovated. Smaller side of Cedar House used for staff housing for first time. Sassy & Rocky the Alpacas and Nova the goat arrive at camp.

The 50th Anniversary of Aldersgate Camp and Retreat Center is celebrated November 23.

2014 – First annual CAMP (Care for Aldersgate Ministry Programs) Workday event, during which Outpost shelters have walls and screen doors added.

Joel Bonner transitions into Food Service Director position.

Hobo the donkey arrives at camp.

New animal shelter built.

2015 –  First Leisure Ministries Weekend Retreat held in February with lots of snow on the ground.

Old barn is retired and dismantled during second annual CAMP Workday. In the fall local churches hold a barn raising fund raiser at Wisemantown UMC and construction begins on a new barn.

Swing ring is built during CAMP Workday.

Lightening strikes the Cedar House.

2016 – New barn is completed in the spring while work continues on replacing the barn fence. Benches are installed at the zipline and at the pine tree in the Front Field.

Dave & Laura welcome home their first daughter, Grace.

The new Cedar house is moved on site in the spring and porches are constructed during CAMP Workday. Staff move in.

Katie the dog comes to camp, and Nova the goat is born.

 2017 – Hammock shelter is built during CAMP Workday.

Pool is painted and a new giant swing is installed on the high ropes course.

Milly the cow arrives at camp.

Summer staff model changes to rotating roles at camp and the OAT (Outdoor Activities Team) is created.

Fundraising started for new cabins.

Civic Consultants hired for construction of new dining hall.

Camp receives two 15 passenger vans as donations.

2018 – Amanda Bonner named Director of Operations.

Repairs made to Creekside Lodge and High Ropes Course. Snow storm in March damages lots of trees. Covered bridge disassembled and replaced with a new foot bridge. Successful fundraiser replaces dishwasher in the Lodge kitchen. Fund raising started for new front signs.

Darling the horse is donated to camp.

Aldersgate hosts Camp Hendon for the first time at the end of the summer.

Camp celebrates 55th Anniversary October 13 with a successful and grand homecoming, featuring a whole hog BBQ dinner.