THE HISTORY of
Camp Kum-Ba-Yah, a non-profit Day Camp, was started in 1950 as a response to a wellspring of development in the city. One of our key founders, Bev Cosby, asked the question, “where will our children play?” And with that the Cosby family began acquiring land around the family’s home and organizing activities for neighborhood children. In a few years the program grew to include children from the inner city who were brought to the camp for swimming and other outdoor activities during the summer months. From the beginning, Kum-Ba-Yah has been on the front lines addressing social justice issues. When Lynchburg City chose to close their public pools rather than integrate, Kum-Ba-Yah’s integrated pools played a vital role in serving the black families in Lynchburg.
Over the years our program has grown to where it is today including over 600 children per summer and offering activities from swimming, canoeing, archery, arts and crafts, pottery, gardening, earth education, hiking, outdoor cooking, to a Ropes and Challenge course, climbing zip lines and more. Specialty camps including overnight camping, sailing and hiking the Appalachian Trail. Currently KBY has transitioned to year-round programming providing outdoor nature programs for our pre-K and elementary school children. Campers and Counselors alike arrive at the camp from all over the world, from Lynchburg’s wealthiest and poorest communities, and from varying religions and cultures. Up to 50% of our Campers are provided with Campership Assistance—scholarships to help their parents and schools pay the cost of tuition and programs.
The camp is located on over 45 acres of stream valley terrain deeded to Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship another non-profit, 501 (c) 3 organizations founded by the Cosby family, which now provides housing for low income individuals in our city. We have 9 campsites throughout our trails, 4 swimming pools, and indoor activities building, two outdoor pavilions, a 10,000 sq. ft. garden, 3 zip lines, climbing wall, an archery site, a four story tree house, outdoor classrooms, streams and a beautiful pond for fishing, canoeing and stream/ lake ecology programming.
Also located on the property are the Church of the Covenant, The Lodge of the Fishermen, Common Grounds Café and Chrysalis Interfaith Retreat Center all of which are handicap accessible and used year-round for retreats, meetings, gatherings and extracurricular activities.
The history of our organization is richly diverse and continues to focus its work in child development, family and school engagement, community building, relational leadership, outdoor learning and environmental stewardship.