Windy Gap sits on 2000 of the most beautiful acres in the Carolinas. It is covered by natural hardwood trees with the Flat Creek running through the middle of camp. It is a beautiful place with a rich history.
Back in the 1920’s the land was owned by a man named Jim Cole. Jim ran a dairy that supplied milk to much of the surrounding area. During the days of prohibition Jim decided to supplement his income with an illegal moonshine business. Jim’s granddaughter says, “He was either a villain or a hero, depending on which side of the law you were on.” He would hide his moonshine from revenuers by hiding it under false bottoms in his 20 gallon milk jugs as he ran it on the “Thunder Road” – a highway between Asheville and Knoxville.
When prohibition ended and his moonshine business dried up Jim sold the land to a couple from Florida named Lawrence and Sarah Douglas who planned to retire here. In the mid-1960’s one of the Douglas’s daughters went to a Young Life camp in Colorado. During what was “the best week of her life” she heard that Young Life was looking for land in the southeast for another camp. She went home and told her parents who contacted then president of Young Life, Bill Starr. Within a short time they had agreed on a price and in 1968 Young Life bought the 2000 plus acres that is now Windy Gap for the grand sum of $1!
Young Life immediately hired Dick Griffith and his wife Marilyn to be the first Property Manager. Dick began developing what would be the first property to be built from the ground up for Young Life. In the summer of 1970 Windy Gap officially welcomed its first campers. A far cry from the beautifully landscaped place that it is today, campers had to navigate between the few buildings on plywood sidewalks to avoid the mud. Meals, club meetings, the leaders lounge and the gameroom were all run in what is now the dining hall but kids had begun to encounter Jesus at this beautiful piece of creation.
Today, Windy Gap hosts well over 3000 campers each summer, another 12,000 weekend campers and families during the school season along with many more mid-week groups during the fall and spring. We also host smaller groups at our rustic Pioneer Plunge camp located about a mile and a half up the mountain. It was developed in the early 70’s by Jim and Sarah Hornsby as primitive (no power, no running water) retreat that is primarily used by groups of 10-30 people looking for a team building wilderness experience. We have a staff of about 25 folks who are called by God to help set the stage for our guests to encounter Jesus here.
Windy Gap continues to be a place used by God to draw people to himself and we are grateful.
Would you like more information?
If you'd like more information, Charlie Scott has written a book on the history of Windy Gap. You can contact
our office to find out how you can find one.