Closing the book

Published 11:59 pm Friday, May 29, 2009

Marvin K. Vickers Jr. says one of the great things about working at Blue Lake Methodist Camp is that a person can enjoy God’s beauty in nature. After his retirement this weekend, Vickers will remain close to nature, only this time it will be on his family’s farm.

Vickers is retiring from his position as director at Blue Lake Methodist Camp. He will be honored during a special ceremony today at the camp.

“It was just time for me to consider retirement,” Vickers said. “I’ll miss the staff and all the wonderful people who have come to this camp. I would like to think that we have come a long way and done a lot of great things in my 12 years here.

“My wife recently retired from being a teacher and we share a farm with my brother and sister in Pike County. I’m sure that I’ll spend a lot of time out there working on the farm.”

Vickers said he grew up as a “preacher’s kid,” which meant constantly moving from town to town. He attended high school and college in Troy, and was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1960. Shortly after his ordination, he spent 30 years as a military chaplain, before coming to Blue Lake in 1997.

As director, Vickers is responsible for overseeing the 300-plus acres at the camp. He described the facility as “open 365 days a year” and serving a variety of needs including as a retreat center and providing summer camps for children.

“If we filled this place to where every one ‘had a bed,’ we’d probably be able to house more than 500 people,” he said. “We are available for weddings; we’ve had baptisms here, and preaching from time to time. We’re considered a retreat center, camp center and conference center.”

Vickers said one of the more important features of the camp is its pair of large outdoor crosses. There is a cross on opposite sides of the lake, and they are illuminated at night.

“That’s a very important part of what this place is,” Vickers said. “We are a Christian camp and it’s very important to think that no matter where you are on the lake, you should be able to see one of those crosses.”

Vickers said he will take many memories from his time at Blue Lake, but there was one special moment that stands out in his mind.

“We had a young lady who was attending our camps, and at 10:30 one night she started to go into signs of heat stroke,” he said. “We managed to get her to the hospital and the doctors gave her an IV and she responded well. She was so impressed with the doctors at the hospital that it gave her an interest in medicine and science.

“Well, I found out that about a week ago, she became a doctor. There really are life-changing things that happen at this place.

“So many people have accepted Christ here, or given their lives to the ministry or gotten married. Those are the memories I’ll always have.”

Phyllis Murray will replace Vickers as director at the camp. She comes to Covington County after working at a camp in Nevada.

Vickers is married to Carolyn, his wife of 47 years. They live together in Enterprise and have two children. His daughter, Kristen, is married with two children and lives in Daphne. His son, Keron, is married with two children and lives in Birmingham, where he is a chiropractor.