The Beginnings of the Community of the Great Commission Camp

Community of the Great Commission (CGC), a 400+ acre camping facility not too far from Foresthill, CA (in Northern California) has seen its share of summer camps ever since the property was purchased in 1959.

A little bit of history will whet the appetite of those who want to know what makes CGC so special to hundreds of people, young and old, who have called this place “camp.” When the property was purchased in 1959, it was at the end of several years of finding a place where the Christian Churches of Northern California – Nevada could hold their summer camps.  Up to this time, summer camps were held at a variety of locations since the 1930s. Lake Alpine, located in Sierra Nevada range and Lake Sequoia, located within Kings Canyon National Park in Fresno County, California were two places that were used for summer camps.

In August, 1959, a site was chosen – 866 acres of land on Chicken Hawk Ridge, located above the town of Foresthill in Placer County.  Purchased from K.R. Nutting, a lettuce grower from Salinas who used the property for milling materials for his lettuce crates, the site was ideal for a camp and conference site.

In “A History of The Community of the Great Commission, written in 1994, the discussion continued: “We (John Holland and Josh Wilson) talked about the property and he (K.R. Nutting) thought that he might be willing to sell it to us.  We put together a salable package that we thought the churches would accept. The total deal was $15,000 down with $800 a month in payments.

“Norris Gaddos, an architect, drew up a master plan of the property of the property. We took that, plus an impressive display of photographs and posters by Mahlon Picht of Sacramento, to the Annual Meeting in Chico in 1959. We made a proposition to the finance committee and to the churches, and the churches bought the plan. The final amount of the land turned out to be 866 acres, and we wound up getting the property for about $76,000.

On August 25, 1959, the escrow closed with a twenty-year clause on the mineral rights. K.R. Notting found an optional way to purchase the property that the Christian Churches could manage to afford. The master plan was accepted and included a variety of things. The main top of Baker Ranch was about five hundred acres of the total of 866. At that time, it was seen as where the main camp would be. The conference center would be at the side of a good springs and higher up on the hill than the Muir Tunnel Patent. It would have quicker access.  Besides, there was a beautiful view of the Crystal Range mountains from that site.”

Then, on August 21, 1960, a devastating fire, the Homestake Mine fire, roared through the area and destroyed nearly 80% of the trees. A heart-wrenching experience for those who visited the site in the aftermath of the fire, the big question was then raised – should the land be kept and reforested or should the property be sold?

Fortunately, the land was kept. Due to the large efforts of John Holland and many others, some 222,000 trees were planted in the first touch and go years after the fire.

The site had been saved!

–David Babayco