About Windermere Baptist Conference Center

Mission Statement

As a dedicated, Christ-like team we will provide a Christian setting in which life changing experiences may occur for all involved.

The History of Windermere

Cross by the Education building

Hidden in the woods on the edge of the Lake of the Ozarks is a treasure we call Windermere. It is a beautiful place where our guests can come to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Here they find a retreat where they can draw closer to God, friends, and family. Windermere is many things to many people–a conference center, a camp, a recreation spot, and a wonderful place for a family vacation.

The first non-Native American to settle on these grounds was a man named Walmsley who immigrated here in 1829. In 1830, Judge George T. Moulder purchased the land from Walmsley. Judge Moulder also purchased homesteads from men named Clinton and Commin. At that time, they lived here with the local Native Americans from the Delaware and the Osage tribes. The Moulder family and the Native Americans shared the land and used the cave for refrigeration. Judge Moulder resided on the property until his death in 1886. At that time there was no lake, only fertile farming land.

In the early 1900's the small town of Cave-Pump grew and thrived in the area that is now the Windermere Cove. The town was so named because it grew up around a hole that penetrated the top of the cave providing easy access to fresh water from the spring that originated in the cave below. Postal records show that Cave-Pump remained in existence for a number of years after the Civil War. Also living in the area at this time was a group of horse thieves, gamblers and counterfeiters. They founded the Bank of Niangua, at Ha Ha Tonka Cave where they minted counterfeit Mexican dollars. The conflicts between these two groups ended in a violent struggle known as the Slicker War.

In 1931 Bagnell Dam was constructed on the Osage River resulting in the formation of the Lake of the Ozarks. Campbell Taggert Associated Bakeries purchased the land from Union Electric in 1937. Two associates of the bakery, J.W. Carence and Lou Bernhardt, came here on a fishing trip. They were so impressed with the area that upon their return to Kansas City they proposed to Mr. Campbell that they acquire cabin sites and build a weekend retreat. The bakery acquired 400 acres and built 21 buildings to be used as a private resort for their employees to enjoy, with their families, free of charge. Most of these buildings are still in use today. The grounds became known officially as the "Windermere Club" at that time because of the resemblance to the land surrounding Windermere Lake in England where Mr. Carence and his wife had visited the previous year. Campbell Taggert Bakeries grew and soon the grounds of Windermere became too far removed from the company for most of the employees to enjoy. The decision was made to sell the property.

The Missouri Baptist Assembly of Churches purchased the "Windermere Club" in September, 1957. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur H. Koehler began their official duties as managers at Windermere on January 1, 1958. Arthur served as Manager and Marge supervised Food Service. The Koehler's provided leadership for 32 years. Marge retired in 1988 and Arthur in 1989. They resided in Camdenton, Missouri and served on the Windermere Board of Advisors, until Arthur's death in May of 2004. Marge had moved into a local nursing home and passed away in June 2004.

The first summer, two RA camps were held with a total of 75 boys and counselors attending. The boys stayed in the eleven cabins in Spring Valley and Lake View.

Conditions for the first guests were primitive and meals were served on a ping pong table. The old office building was used as a kitchen, dining hall and auditorium. That fall work began on twenty new cabins in Cedar Grove. By the next summer Windermere had a new kitchen, dining hall and auditorium. That first full summer there were 6,453 registered visitors.

In 1962 building began again; the auditorium was enlarged, the motel was built, a banquet area was added to the dining hall and work began on the Children's Building. In late August, 1964 the new RA-GA camps were started in the Spring Valley and Lake View Areas. The growth continued in 1965 when the new office, snack shop, manager's residence and swimming area were added. During 1969 more than 15,468 guests visited Windermere. That winter improvements were made to the lobby, and the snack shop area was developed.

Windermere's first summer staff member, Stanley White, came here on a fishing trip with a group from Maywood Baptist Church. After camping on Tick Bite Trail, the rest of Stanley's group packed up and left for home. Stanley asked to stay and work. The Koehler's sent him to lifeguard school and hired him and Paul Morefield to work for the summer. The following year the summer staff workforce doubled to four. In 1961 thirteen summer staffers were hired. In 1983 that number increased to forty-six. In 2004, 65 high school and college aged young people were a part of what was called SumMiT (Summer Ministry Team), and is now called IMPACT. Many of these young people return to work on weekends and school breaks throughout the year. This is very helpful since Windermere is now available to guests year round. Many of these staff members formed lasting friendships with those they met while working at Windermere. They often return and reminisce about their time at Windermere.

Windermere has been the home of many conferences over the years. "Yesteryears" (a celebration of America's past), was a program which was enjoyed throughout the 1990s. We also hosted the annual "Show Me Clowns for Jesus Conference" each February where clowns from all around the world come to train and share their skills. The first Clown Conference was held in 1984, eventually moving to Windermere in 1991. In July 1999, the first official "Windermere Update" was released. The first update was a program in which Sierra was interviewed as our feature entertainment for "Windermere Presents", our annual Independence Day Celebration. It was renamed "Freedom Celebration" in 2001. In 2000 we started "Christmas at Windermere", a Christmas Celebration with the family in mind. We also started "Reality Check" in 2000. This is a New Years Eve Celebration for High School and College aged youth, with a live band, a special speaker and midnight fireworks.

Frank Shock was called to be the next Director of Windermere December 1, 1989. He had been serving at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center, the Louisiana Baptist Convention's Conference Center. Mr. Shock became the first President of Windermere when it became an Agency of the Missouri Baptist Convention, with its own Board of Trustees in 2001.

Two challenges faced Windermere in the early 1990's:

  1. Make the assembly a year round conference center operation.
  2. Implement one of the three Master Plans that had been prepared but was shelved for lack of funds.

With this in mind the Windermere Board of Advisors was created to be a "grass roots" organization to review the existing master plans, refine, and implement them. Dr. Arthur Mallory, a Springfield layman, serves as Chairman of this group, and was also elected the first Chairman of the Trustee Board in 2001.

Since the inception of this group, there has been the addition of some twenty buildings over the last ten years. Lake View Lodge conference center was completed in May 2002 boosting Windermere's capacity to 1,250. In 2003 construction began on Phase I of the New Wilderness Creek Campus. This first phase provides 84 new lodge rooms accommodating more than six hundred guests. We have requests for this new campus booked over one year into the future. This expansion will allow Windermere to accommodate many larger conferences and groups that previously were unable to utilize the facilities because of limited space. The new campus includes a 1500-seat auditorium to meet the needs of these groups. Wilderness Creek is nestled on a beautiful, wooded hillside overlooking a natural creek that winds through the valley toward the lake.

Windermere will always continue to grow and change, and yet in many ways it remains the same. These grounds hold many memories for those who have come, both as guests and as staff. Thousands of decisions have been made here over the last 40 plus years. Many met their Savior in a personal way for the first time, while others surrendered to full time Christian Service. There are numerous stories of those who have met their spouse at Windermere. It is always a joy and a privilege to visit with those who return. They are always glad to share about their time here and how this special place has enriched their lives.

Windermere is truly God's Special Place

1958
18 Cedar Grove Cabins were built.
1959
Dining Hall and Earl O. Harding Auditorium were built.
1960
Marina was added to the grounds.
1962
Additions were made to the Dining Hall and Auditorium.
1963
Children's Building and Motel were built.
1964
Spring Valley and Lake View Auditoriums were added to the grounds.
1965
Office and manager's residence was built.
1966
Earl O. Harding Auditorium was dedicated.
1973
The Fred L. Mark Prayer Garden (located in front of the cave) was dedicated.
1974
Recreation area, including tennis court, basketball court, shuffleboard area and children's playground were constructed.
1979
Auditorium and Dining Hall were remodeled.
1980
Banquet area was added to Dining Hall: addition was made to boys' staff dormitory.
1981
Spring Valley cabins, snack shop and gift shop were remodeled, conference rooms for Lake View and Cedar Grove were added.
1982
Spring Valley Snack Shop was added.
1983
Spring Valley Auditorium was remodeled.
1989
733 decisions were recorded (191 salvations, 518 rededications and 24 Christian Service).
1989
Arthur Koehler retired after 32 years as Director of Windermere.
1989
Frank Shock assumed the position as Director of Windermere.
1990
669 decisions were recorded (167 salvations, 487 rededications and 15 Christian Service).
1990
Advisory Board was formed at the July MBC Executive Board Meeting.
1990
Director's house was constructed.
1991
724 decisions were recorded (189 salvations, 513 rededications and 22 Christian Service).
1991
Spring Valley Lodge was remodeled.
1992
731 decisions were recorded (178 salvations, 532 rededications and 21 Christian Service).
1992
80 additional acres were purchased.
1993
671 decisions were recorded (156 salvations, 497 rededications and 18 Christian Service). .
1993
Swimming Pool was completed.
1994
893 decisions were recorded (213 salvations, 657 rededications and 23 Christian Service).
1994
The EDGE ropes challenge course at Windermere was dedicated.
1995
1,084 decisions were recorded (321 salvations, 725 rededications and 38 Christian Service).
1995
The greenhouse was completed.
1995
A new boat dock was installed with 41 stalls: new water recreation equipment was added.
1995
Playground was built next to the pool.
1995
Sand volleyball court was added to Spring Valley Area.
1996
731 decisions were recorded (178 salvations, 532 rededications and 21 Christian Service).
1996
Two Deer Ridge mini lodges, two family cabins, and a conference building were added to our list of accommodations.
1996
An anonymous donor provided funds to build the Prayer Chapel.
1996
"The Screamer" was added to The EDGE ropes challenge course.
1997
1,284 were decisions recorded (421 salvations, 825 rededications and 38 Christian Service).
1998
1,500 decisions were recorded.
1998
One Deer Ridge Lodge and four Family Units were added.
1999
1,547 decisions were recorded.
1999
The Prayer Chapel was dedicated.
1999
Three staff houses were built.
2000
1,681 decisions were recorded.
2000
Dining Hall was completed.
2000
Windermere was incorporated.
2001
1,587 decisions were recorded.
2001
Lightning struck the Maintenance Shop and it burned to the ground, no one was injured.
2001
Koehler Lodge opened.
2001
Old Boys Dormitory was remodeled and turned into the Volunteer Lodge, improvements were made to Spring Valley Lodge.
2001
"The Cedar Edge Rescue" was added to The EDGE ropes challenge course.
2002
Lake Side Snack Shop was remodeled. Deck for 80, walk up window, grill, and music videos were added.
2002
Lake View Lodge opened and was dedicated in September.
2002
Greenhouse was remodeled and 800 square feet added.
2002
1,587 decisions were recorded.
2002
28,554 guests visited Windermere.
2002
Seating in Vesper Area was refinished.
2002
Over 28,600 volunteer hours were recorded.
2003
Wilderness Creek Campus construction was started.
2003
Over 20,000 volunteer hours were recorded.
2003
1,590 decisions were recorded.
2003
More than 30,000 guests visited Windermere.
2003
Over 1,000 girls and their leaders attended the Girls on Mission Conference.
2004
Second Annual "Girls on Mission", "Rekindling the Flame", "Days of Renewal" and "Women in Christian Service" (renamed www.Woman") Conferences were held.
2004
Phase I of the Wilderness Creek Construction Project was completed.
2004
New water recreation equipment was added at the Marina, a teeter totter, a third water inflatable, two water logs and personal water crafts.
2005
Boat dock was relocated and expanded further in to the lake to allow 95 guests instead of the previous 40 to play in the water at the same time.
2005
A Volunteer Lounge was created along with volunteer cabins; a wishing well was added at the cave, and work was completed on the first tier at Vespers.
2005
The Registration/Front Desk area was redesigned and streamlined inside and out.
2005
Pleasant Valley Church worked on a Wilderness Creek Dorm as a volunteer project, and Eldon First Baptist Church worked to update the mini-golf course.
2005
Upon Frank Shock's resignation, Dan Bench (former Volunteer Coordinator) was named Executive Director (Interim) of Windermere.
2006
The Board of Trustees named Dan Bench as President/CEO of Windermere.
2006
Bud Builder volunteers updated the corner Cedar Grove cabin.
2006
Windermere kicked-off the early days of the Building Lives Capital Campaign at the Board of Advisors meeting.
2006
Aviva has done revenue-sharing of the water inflatables in the water park. This has significantly expanded our water toy selection, and increased revenue at the marina, without as many man hours for Windermere staff.
2007
The Spring Valley Lodge was refurbished and brought up to date.
2007
Aviva continues to do revenue-sharing of the water park inflatables with us. This has significantly expanded our water toy selection, with the best selection of Iceburgs, Aqua Jumps, and Teeter-Totters in the region.
2007
A record number of guests stayed at Windermere this year.
2008
Windermere held its 50th Anniversary Homecoming Celebration in September.
2008
Windermere had its best year ever with a record number of guests here for life-changing experiences!
2008
Staff and a great number of volunteers worked to remove the old dock with white foam over several weekends. It had to be out of the water before the first of January 2009. The new 20 slip dock has newer, legal, black, encapsulated foam. It has been rewired and made to fit our needs.
2008
The Windermere website at Windermereusa.org under went a complete upgrade and looks really great.
2008
A stone sign was erected naming the "Don & Marian Wideman Lake View Lodge".
2009
Many of the signs around camp were updated, refurbished, or redesigned and are looking good. The two large signs on Hwy 54 were refurbished, nicely repainted, and made visible. The boat ramp sign looks good and now thanks guests as they leave.
2009
The EDGE had many upgrades, all put on concrete pads. There is a new restroom. The water fountain got a lot of use this summer. A vending machine is installed with Powerade, water, Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola.
2009
New fire rings and seating were set-up for guests to enjoy around campus.
2009
New seating was put in at the amphitheater.
2009
Two family units are now under new roofs. Thanks to volunteer help for the shingles and re-roofing.
2009
New Facebook site for The EDGE – The EDGE at Windermere.
2009
52 high school and college age students were part of our summer staff program - IMPACT - Intense Mission Positive Authentic Christian Team.
2009
Two volunteers constructed and decorated the hand rail going up the hill, and a built and decorated a cover-up for the electronic unit beside the dining hall.
2009
Many of the signs around camp were updated, refurbished, or redesigned and are looking good. The two large signs on Hwy. 54 were refurbished and nicely repainted, and now point the way to Windermere to be seen from a long ways away. There is a sign now at the Larry Gale turnoff. The boat ramp sign looks good and now thanks guests as they leave.
2009
The EDGE had many upgrades, all put on concrete pads. There is a new restroom. A water and cola vending machine is now installed. The EDGE facelift is complete with stain and paint protecting the wood surfaces. Additional lighting will give more light during night climbs.
2010
We continue good stewardship by replacing all incandescent lights on campus with florescent bulbs.
2010
The Edge will have The Maze, a new challenging 'lows' activity.
2010
The EDGE is expanding your opportunities to try new high elements. Our President, Dan Bench approved building two new ziplines with five new elements connecting to the zip platform as well as an additional new in-line swing. These will be built on 60' tall poles. The new zipline deck will be approximately seven feet higher than the existing zipline platforms. The poles will be set sometime between now and mid-May and the cabling will be finished around May 22 - just in time for staff training and summer.
2010
New sidewalks for access for wheelchairs and strollers were added at the marina and vespers.
2010
Volunteers provided new shingles and re-roofed Cedar Grove Conference Buildings #1, 355, 361, and Fireside. A volunteer chainsaw crew took down dead trees that were too close to the road and more volunteers cleared trees and brush. Additional volunteers cleaned out the ponds and creek, mini-golf pond, trees around the Prayer Chapel, and found and marked all our trails.
2010
The most obvious change on campus are the inviting red doors on Spring Valley and Lake View dorms, with a yellow accent wall inside. Flag poles also were repaired and two new offices were built.
2010
We had a record number of guests stay with us this year, recording over 85,000 guest nights.
2010
Many hundreds of decisions for Christ and for Christian service were made, as well as many dozens of baptisms.
2011
We have all new door knobs in Lake View and Spring Valley Dorms. We also have 40 new doors and locks in Lake View Lodge.
2011
All the bunk beds in Spring Valley, Lake View and Cedar Grove Cabins have safety rails. We put in 11 new floors in various housing around campus. We replaced and fixed many a/c, p-tac, and heater units this summer.
2011
We have new scripture signs put up in our beautiful flower beds around campus. Look for them as you travel around.
2011
Our new Murdock Conference Center was renovated into a very nice, working space for 120 guests.
2011
We had a chainsaw crew that took down dead trees that were too close to the roads and buildings. Brush and trees were cleared as well. Volunteers helped with most of these projects all year.
2011
This fall we have built a beautiful, pool deck with donated composite lumber. We have painted the pool as well.
2011
Our partnership with Living Waters Canoe Ministry has been a good thing. They also put a nice, new, composite deck on the building they use for their ministry.
2011
The Windermere Ambassadors is a new group that has grown out of the Board of Advisors. This group will be an active, liaison group with our churches, youth leaders, seniors, donors, and guests.
2012
Project one for 2012 is volunteers and Windermere Operations staff laboring together to deep clean and repair Whispering Oaks and Dogwood lodges. The crew will shampoo carpets, wash pillows and blankets, paint walls and ceilings, repair doors, caulk showers and a whole lot more. We intend to spend no money for this project by using resources that we already have on hand. We will be doing more Refurbish Windermere projects this year.
2012
On Sunday, July 22 at 2:30 a.m. Whispering Oaks and our laundry caught fire and burned to the ground. Fire Marshals say it was due to a mechanical/electrical malfunction. We are most thankful no one was in the building that night, an unusual happening, with people staying there the night before and book the night after. God is good. We continue to pick up the pieces, and will work on laundry and some kind of rebuild in the future.
2012
Staff and volunteers have accomplish many projects around campus, including re-roofing Spring Valley auditorium, totally re-doing bathrooms in Fireside, putting two new, very large air conditioning units on Wilderness Creek Auditorium, replacing many air conditioners around campus, installing a Frisbee golf course, insulating a staff house and creating an AV room.