History

In 1958, the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church received, as a gift from a Dr. Lester L. Woolsey, a deed to a tract of woodland adjacent to the Hathaway farm. It was quickly decided to pursue the idea of developing this property into a youth camp. An outside consultant was engaged to make a planning survey of the property and his report was encouraging except for the lack of water sources. The timing was perfect because Robert Seymour had decided to sell the Hathaway farm, which of course included a pond and the upper reaches of Sands Creek. A sales agreement was concluded and the Hathaway farm, consisting of 450 acres, was deeded to the New York Annual Conference on September 16, 1959. The new property, totaling 766 acres, was named Kingswood after the town in England where John Wesley began field preaching and where he also started a school.

A master plan was developed, and in 1960 more than 250 volunteers from many churches visited the camp and devoted untold hours of work to develop rustic campsites. The following year, 1961, many church groups again visited the camp to work on improvements of camping, housing and sanitary facilities. And during five summer weeks of planned activities, 83 youths and 23 adults stayed at Kingswood, many living in makeshift shelters.

Over the ensuing years, following carefully developed plans, the grounds, accommodations and activities have been remarkably maintained, improved and expanded. Today we have ten weeks of activities every summer at Kingswood where retreat ministries, adult and youth groups and individual families enjoy a wide variety of outdoor experiences. And thus we are blessed with this wonderful legacy to Benjamin Hathaway, to the New York Conference founders of 50 years ago and to the hundreds of volunteers who made all of this possible.