CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Young Life, a non-denominational ministry for middle school, high school and college students, has bought a 1,100-acre tract of land along the Gauley River Canyon near Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. The group says it expects the site to become one of its premier adventure camps east of the Mississippi River.
Young Life’s Gauley River tract borders a 665-acre chunk of privately held land bought last summer by the West Virginia Land Trust for eventual transfer to the Gauley River National Recreation Area. The property making up Young Life’s tract was assembled from several parcels of privately held land bordering state and federal lands.
The organization recently completed a $5 million fundraising drive to buy the land, create a master plan for development, add infrastructure and build a preliminary base camp.
Ed Maguire of the Highlands Group, who has been working with Young Life for the past five years to identify a West Virginia site for the organization’s network of resort-like camps, said the site’s rugged terrain, multiple outdoor recreation opportunities and scenic vistas, all within 10 miles of four-lane U.S. 19 and nearby interstate highway access, made the Nicholas County location the top choice for the camp.
“Young Life’s land includes more than one mile of Gauley River shoreline, then comes up to the top of the cliffs and onto a good chunk of relatively flat land on top, where the main camp will be set back from the rim and be out of the viewshed,” Maguire said. “From a conservation perspective, it’s a good thing because they’re buying a lot of ground and creating a small footprint on it, and saving the view of canyon rim while protecting the river…