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Camp Kum-Ba-Yah purchases 47 acres of land from Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship

Camp Kum-By-Yah file

In this Oct. 10, 2018, file photo, students walk to a pavilion at Camp Kum Ba-Yah in Lynchburg.

Camp Kum-Ba-Yah announced Friday it has purchased 47 acres of land from Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship in order to “improve and enhance the grounds for year-round, multi-generational programming.”

According to a news release, the camp purchased the land for $1.1 million, completing Phase I of a $2.5 million capital campaign it started in 2019 to improve Camp Kum-Ba-Yah.

“Through many community donors and over $280,000 in grants from the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation [VLCF], we have successfully raised the $1.1 million needed to purchase our Camp home and protect it for perpetuity for future generations,” Executive Director Amy Bonnette said in the news release.

Because the purchase rounds out Phase I of the improvements, Bonnette said in the news release it will launch Phase II, which will aim to raise $1.4 million to “ensure the legacy of Camp Kum-Ba-Yah as ‘a place to grow in nature and to be in community’ is accessible and inclusive.”

The news release says Phase II will aim “to improve the property and the health of the forest.”

“With the long-term effects of COVID-19, there is a new appreciation for nature and its healing effects on the mind, body and soul,” Bonnette said in the release.

It also will start capital improvement projects, such as a new bus turnaround to accommodate school trips, expand the current amphitheater, renovate an existing cottage to be used as a welcome center, and renovate the youth house to become a new nature education center.

Camp Kum-Ba-Yah’s Phase II also will include an endowment that will support the camp’s programming and offer a scholarship fund to give access to all those who may need it.

Founded in 1950, Camp Kum-Ba-Yah was a hot spot for change during the civil rights movement under the leadership of Bev Cosby. The camp’s famous pools were the home to the first integrated swimming experience in the City of Lynchburg.

The camp celebrated 60 years of history this past 4th of July, marking the anniversary of that first integrated swimming experience, which happened July 4, 1961.

For information on upcoming events at the camp, or how to get involved as a volunteer, visit CampKumBaYah.org.

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