Nestled in a valley in the San Pedro Mountains along Highway 344, lies Camp Oro Quay – a 50 acre parcel of land, home to Singing Hills Ministries. The area surrounding the camp is rich in history with evidence of early Native Americans, Spanish Conquistadors, Mexican ghost towns, abandoned gold mines, original homesteads and modern mining operations. Although the lure for thousands of previous inhabitants was gold’s promise of wealth, it is the intent of Camp Oro Quay to show that it is the life of the individual that has true value much greater than that of fine gold.
The property upon which the camp is located was once part of a much larger homestead and ranch. It was purchased and donated to Berean Baptist Church of Albuquerque in 1964/1965 by two ladies who wanted to help the church start a youth camp. Under the leadership of Rev. Charlie Yates, the youth of that church and others built “The Camp.” It was completed around 1966 and named “Singing Hills” because the trees appeared to sing as their leaves were blown by the wind. During the ministry of Berean Baptist, the camp flourished. At one point there were several diesel buses that would travel to surrounding states and bring young people here for summer camp. It was said that often the groups exceeded 500 guests per week.
In 1979, North Park Baptist Church of Houston, Texas took over the operation of the camp and called the camp “Christian Singing Hills.” Under their leadership, the camp ministry continued to grow and succeed. Improvements were made with the addition of a ropes course and the expansion of camp activities, including specialty camps for sports and teams. Winter operations were added to facilitate groups year-round. Not only did they offer church retreats but they also ministered to school groups and served families for reunions. In 1999, the directors, Bill and Debbie Crawford and family, felt that they were being called to minister in Europe and left the camp. The camp closed in the winter of 2000 after several decades of operation and thousands of lives changed.
The current directors, Bill and Liesl Bell, took over management in the fall of 2001 and implemented key changes which are with us to this day, primary of which has to do with the camp’s focus. For consistency sake, the business acquired parts of the former camp name and became “Singing Hills Ministries.” The camp name however, changed to “Camp Oro Quay” in reference to the name of the peak just north of the camp property. Oro Quay Peak, meaning “fine gold,” was named after the type of gold being mined from the mountain throughout the 1800’s.
Although the area remains rich in gold, it is our desire to put effort and purpose into that which has true and eternal value – our guests. It is our mission to serve each guest, provide them with an excellent camp experience, and demonstrate to them that we believe in providing a place “where lives have more value than fine gold.”
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