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CAMP VERLEY – POISED FOR DEVELOPMENT
Over the past thirty years Central Jamaica Conference has been developing the Camp Verley property. Originally part of the Spring Village sugar estate, the land was gifted to the Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) of Seventh Day Adventist churches by its last owners the Verley family. Many development proposals have been put forward during this time. To date the only development that has taken root has been the building of a camp site on ten of the twenty acres of flat land on the southern fringes of the property which is used for church conventions, annual youth camps, educational and recreational events, and other church and non church meetings.
However Camp Verley sits on two hundred and twenty six acres of land of which some fifty percent is low lying lime stone hills interspersed with fertile cockpit type valleys. Three years ago the CJC constituency urged the Administration to redouble its efforts to develop the entire site into a spiritual, educational and recreational center within a sustainable framework. After much prayer, thought and discussion the Development Committee of the Conference prepared a Concept Paper. This Concept Paper is being used to guide the preparation of a Development Plan for the property.
Below is set out the concepts that are guiding what is being planned.
The Camp Verley Vision Statement
To be the premier Spiritual, Recreational and Training facility within a sustainable economic framework for CJC.
The mission of the Camp Verley site is to use its unique environmental and cultural assets to create a sustainable program for the Spiritual Development, Education and Training, and Recreational Use of the internal and external customers of CJC.
To achieve this mission action will take place under three headings.
- Education and Training
- Stewardship to include Recreational, Wellness, Sustainable Development and Environmental Management.
The Spiritual Concept
Camp Verley because of its location and environmental makeup is ideally suited for moments of spiritual refreshing and reflection, and over the years it has been well used for this purpose. The aim will be to extend this use through formal, planned activities, and to encourage a greater informal use by small groups and individuals.
Programs that are being recommended include monthly prayer and fasting sessions, bible conferences, educational and training sessions, and special Sabbath programs.
One of the central and distinguishing doctrines of the SDA church is the sanctuary and its relevance to an understanding of the plan of salvation and the last days. A year ago when a life size model of the sanctuary was brought to Jamaica it caused quite a stir. Unfortunately the study of the sanctuary has declined in recent years. A proposal is to recreate a model sanctuary on the lawns or in the hills of the camp site to be used as an educational tool. Recently the Conference sponsored a Prayer conference at the Camp site and created a short prayer trail. It is proposed to create a more permanent prayer trail into the hills with rest and meditation spots.
The Education and Training Concept.
The need for continuing training especially in usable and marketable skills is one of the important actions that the church needs to be involved in if we are to improve the ability of our members and non members, especially youth, to compete in an increasingly globalized market place: to earn a living and to contribute in a positive manner to the church and the society.
Camp Verley has the space and accommodation to conduct such training activities on a short to medium term basis. There is a need prophetically for the church to become more organized and consistent with its training programs. The Spirit of Prophecy has instructed that the most important work of the pastorate is the training of the laity and setting them to do a greater work. Although CJC has begun this training program in Lay Preaching and Sabbath School Teacher Training among others, it is obvious that much more can be achieved if the program is organized on a more coordinated and systematic manner, using the Camp as a campus site.
The camp site is a part of a once larger historic estate. The area of the site includes the remnants of a Taino site and several artifacts from the sugar estate including an irrigation/aqueduct that ends at a sugar factory in Bushy Park, and a village in the hills that includes quite substantial tombs. This is an ideal opportunity to establish in partnership with the Northern Caribbean University an integrated cultural/archaeological/oral history project that can assist with the creation of a heritage park and offer exposure of our children to the study of archaeology.
In addition to this there is a great need to train both our own people together with others into micro economic skills and ventures. These skills could include:
- Book binding
- Brick laying
- Fruit preservatives including jams and jellies
- Physical training
- Vegetarian cooking
The Stewardship Concept- Recreational, Wellness, Sustainable Development and Environmental Management.
Camp Verley is ideally suited to support an expansive recreational and wellness program. The location and resources of the site contribute greatly to its potential as a health and wellness center. The two hundred plus acres with a stream, hills and tracks through it together with the large flat and its closeness to Jamaica’s major population centers makes it well placed for this kind of development. The nature of Camp Verley’s environment and the recent inclusion of the environment as a part of our stewardship commission has added importance to the site from an environmental conservation and educational perspective.
Some of the recreational proposals include the creation of tours and trails. In addition the landscape of the entire property lends itself to the building of mini camp sites in the hills which can be used for single day as well as overnight camping trips, survival training and environmental study tours. The camp site already has a basket ball court. It also has the space to hold other courts such as badminton, netball and a walking/running track. There is a small historic swimming pool. However there is enough land to build a modern 25 m pool for both therapeutic purposes, and swimming lessons and training. A recommendation has been made from the Health Dept of the Conference to establish a wellness center at camp Verley. In addition the camp site can be used for health rallies and exercise training programs.
The camp site is well placed to be used as an environmental training center. With its mix of limestone hills, cockpits and an ever flowing stream, together with faunal and floral resources that are as yet to be discovered but which if the natural history of Jamaica is anything to go by exist, the property can be used as a training ground for the management of water shed areas, conservation of environmentally fragile areas, and the propagation of organic and environmentally friendly agricultural foods and horticultural products using plants that are endemic to the area.
The need for Camp Verley to earn its own way is both an imperative and a great possibility because of its resources. Nevertheless it should be remembered at all times that the funding for the development of the property must not comprise the spiritual guidelines that govern God’s people. Rather the site must be managed in an efficient and environmental friendly and compatible manner with programs that will glorify God so that God will be able to rain down His blessings on it.