It all began with the gift of 33 acres of land on Crabtree Cemetery Road given by Rev. Souter Hoople to the Ohio Bible Conference, Inc. in 1969. The land was covered in trees and brush and was hilly except for a small area facing Mt. Hope Road which was planted in Christmas trees. The only building on the land was a partly finished cement block building about 24 x 35 feet in size. The little building had no windows, doors, or floor, and only a partial ceiling and loft floor. A walled up cistern was on site with the closest electric on Mt. Hope Road.
The summer camping program was at this time conducted at Willow Bible Camp in Vinton County Ohio about 80 miles away. But this gift of property was especially attractive to Mr. and Mrs. Beery, the current field missionaries, as it could be developed into a close facility for Week-end Retreats instead of traveling to Vinton County for such ministry opportunities. This camping area could also serve as a base of operations for the Vacation Bible School summer workers and help with housing issues as this VBS ministry was growing in size and housing was becoming a problem.
The first building project was to finish the small block building and obtain water. Several helped with donations including Mr. Harold Shaw from Seaman, Ohio, and Paul Rothwell who dug the pond. God with His great providence sent at this time Mr. and Mrs. John Horrocks from the Springfield area. They camped and stayed at the site for a week at a time, helping and working and donating much of the needed materials.
After the floor was poured in the building, the corner was partitioned off for a kitchen. The cistern was cleaned and a pitcher pump hooked up for water in the kitchen. Mr. and Mrs. Sauter of Wheaton, Illinois, brought teams of teens who helped clear the land. These teams also conducted witness services in the high schools and churches in the evenings. A man from Grand Rapids donated money for a fire place. From 1969-1973, Mother and Daughter Banquets were held at this site as well as Week-end camps as the first A-frame was donated by the Horrocks.
During this period, circumstances changed with regard to the Willow Bible Camp in Vinton County, Ohio, as previously four missionaries had worked together to plan and conduct summer camps now changed to just one missionary, Mr. Beery, who was left with its direction and maintenance. With these changes came more time and effort being put forth into developing Mt. Hope.
With the help of the Sauters and others, summer camp was continued at Willow as the building projects also continued at Mt. Hope. More cabins were being added, a dining room built, and a shower house constructed. All the labor and many of the materials were donated. Various systems to filter the pond water for drinking were tried. It can only be said that the Lord took care of us and we got by.
To help deter the incidence of vandalism at the camp, Mr. Horrocks suggested the construction of a house and an onsite missionary. The Horrocks came and stayed all summer; along with the Sauters, and others, the house was ready for the Beerys in September 1973.
The first full week of camp was a junior age camp. The facilities consisted of the A-frame and the upstairs loft for the girls as the boys were housed in a smaller A-frame cabin and large tent. Thirty-six girls and thirty-one boys attended this first week of Mt. Hope Bible Camp as 20 made confessions of faith in Christ that week.
Later, the cement slab and other facilities were added. Through the years more weeks of camp have been added until the present, there are five weeks.
In May of 1991, Dale and Belva Beery retired after 41 years of missionary work, including 18 years at Mt. Hope Bible Camp. A “Passing of the Torch” ceremony was held at the camp to honor the retiring missionaries and welcome the new missionary, Jody Stevens. Later that summer Jody married Beth Richardson from Vermont, and for 21 years they have served as camp missionaries. Recently, the Stevens' have felt led of God to transition from Mt. Hope Bible Camp to pursue new ministry opportunities.
Through the two plus decades that Jody and Beth Stevens served as missionaries, camp has experienced many changes from pond water to county water, from outhouses to flush toilets, from swimming in a lake off-site to swimming in the Mt. Hope swimming pool, from overhead electric lines to underground wiring, from the original small block building with dining hall to the Beery Activity Center plus several other new buildings.
We praise the Lord for the camp’s development over the years and look forward to its continued advancement. We are excited to see what God has in store for the ministries of Mt. Hope Bible Camp and the thousands of lives that will be affected for Christ in the years to come.
A couple of things that make Mt. Hope Bible Camp special are: (1) "The stress put on the Bible: teaching, preaching, memory work, and the clear presentation of the Gospel," (2) "The fee is kept low so that no one is turned away because of lack of funds. This is possible because of the staff donations and others who share of their resources."