In 1966, the Methodist’s Richmond District conference dreamed of a place where people could enjoy nature through camping and fellowship in faith through an “outdoor Christian Ministry.” Through the help of the District Superintendent and pastors and through generous finanical support, Westview on the James was created.
Westview on the James is a campground and retreat center situated on 780 acres overlooking the James River in Goochland County. Currently it serves and is shared property of the Richmond, Ashland and Charlottesville United Methodist Districts, as well as providing services and retreat facilities and summer camp opportunities for many other groups. The grounds include a lake, swimming pool, lodging and dormitories with bathouses, year-round dining facilities, and a “lakeside lodge for retreats.” There are acres of campgrounds and wilderness, creating a host of opportunities for communion with nature as well as Christian fellowship and retreat.
Funding for Westview came from the Frank E. Brown Society endowment. The endowment was created by the Westview Board of Directors to “build a fund that would provide financial stability and enable Westview to stay in the forefront of Christian camping, and to provide an opportunity for Westview supporters to give a gift that would continue to give year after year.” The endowment was established in 1997. The endowment is managed by the Board of Directors along with laity and clergy from the three owning districts and their investment committee. Westview is managed by its permanent staff, and oversight is handled by the Board of Directors. For donations and endowment gifts, Westview maintains a “needs” list on their website that can assist those who would like to donate items or money choose to meet specific needs of the camp. Those who donate are referred to as “Friends of Westview.”
Westview also has a mission program that allows youth groups or individuals to make a difference in the community and for Westview itself. The Mission Program at Westview is designed to coordinate opportunities both on Westview property and at off-site mission locations. Some opportunities include Habitat for Humanity and Interfaith Housing Corporation. These missions are usually weekend missions, and they will generally include lodging, food, recreation and evening programs provided by Westview. There is a calendar of Missions and Mission teams on Westview’s website that also refers back to past missions and mission groups.
As a Christian campground, Westview provides numerous retreat programs, ranging from self-esteem building workshops to opportunities to meet new people. All programs are biblically based. Some retreats are arranged through the District churches and some are annual retreat events.
Westview offers a Challenge Course intended to function as an icebreaker for groups, and to assist with team-building, problem-solving skills and building group initiative and team-mindset. The Challenge Course is a tradition for some youth groups. Many school systems offer this course, and many other youth organizations, such as Girls Scouts of America, use Challenge Courses as an opportunity to build morale for their groups. Challenge courses consist of physical obstacles that must be overcome wtih a combination of both physical and cognitive skill along with group work to reach “a common goal.” Westview’s motto for their Challenge is course is, “Let your hands get dirty; let your hair get mussed. In play carelessness is a virtue.” Westview’s Challenge Course offers the obstacles people have come to expect, such as the “The Wall,” which is a 35 ft. outdoor climbing wall, “Zip n’ Dip,” and a 300 foot zipline that takes daring riders directly into the water of Westview lake. Groups can choose one or more courses and pay based on the number of courses and participants.
Westview offers two different camps, the Resident Camp and the Adventure Camp. The Resident Camp follows the format for the prototypical boarder camp, but Westview’s Camp has a Christian focused program in combination with a focus on education and the outdoors. Each activity is designed to teach the campers something new, such as Astronomy, canoeing, archery, fishing and photography lessons. There are hiking trips, hayrides and Bible discussions intended to help provide the campers “the opportunity for twenty-four hour-a-day personal and group experience with God and discovery of how the Bible affects our daily existence.” The camp sessions are arranged by age and generally are intended for children from 6-18. The camp runs from mid-June through mid-August.
The Adventure Camp is geared to children age 13-17 and creates new outdoor activity skills, or helps the campers build on skills they already possess. They will be immersed in the outdoor experience, and this camp will also, like the Resident Camp, focus on enabling the campers to live a Christian lifestyle. The camp offers discussion and study, and will have “evening vespers” like the Resident Camp. This camp, as it is intended for older campers, will generally require campers to spend a portion of the day in devotion and short Bible study sessions. Each session offers different activities and also is developed based on the ages of the campers. Westview is equipped with a pool that serves to cool campers during the southern summer months; it is also the home of the Aquatic Education department. Westview offers pool memberships, along with Red Cross swimming lessons, for people of all ages.
Westview on the James
1231 Westview Road
Goodland , VA 23063
Westview on the James website
Profile prepared by Emily R. Sprouse