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franklin county times

Icy cold water of Lake Waukaway still beckoning visitors

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
May 27, 2001
So whatever became of Lake Waukaway?
Located in northern Jasper County off Highway 11 near Vossburg, it was the place to go to beat the summer heat during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. Anyone who ever swam at Lake Waukaway will remember the icy cold water that would turn lips blue on the hottest day.
Unlike many "hot spots" of the past that have gone by the way, Lake Waukaway, now known as Waukaway Springs Christian Retreat Center, is still open.
The 160-acre site was purchased by Gene Garrick from the Allen family in the early 1970s. Garrick's plan was to create a Christian retreat, but he lived in California at the time and couldn't spend time with it, McInturff said.
Garrick still had the dream of creating a Christian retreat. He worked to start a non-profit group, Walk The Way Ministries Inc., and turned the property over to it. The organization is run by a board of directors to which McInturff and his staff answer.
Still growing
The old diving tower is still around, but today it is in pieces under the trees.
Meanwhile, many improvements have been made in recent years, and buildings have been built, mostly by volunteer labor. "Different groups would come in with their campers and stay for weeks. It's amazing to see what they have done," McInturff said.
There are cabins, a dining hall and kitchen, and a new lodge that has just been completed. On the grounds, there are camp sites and places for volleyball and other recreational activities.
The camp is set up to sleep 135, and the kitchen can feed a group as large as 1,000 people, McInturff said.
Waukaway's summer camp will start in late June, and run through Aug. 9. Weeks are set up for different groups, ranging from elementary school campers to families.
It's not unusual for people who are coming for a retreat to talk about how they used to come to Lake Waukaway to swim back in the good ole days.
Jamie White, 24, said she has heard about Lake Waukaway all of her life.
Found a home
McInturff and his wife, Joye, came to Waukaway Springs in January of 2000 with their two small children. Both are originally from Texas and found out about Waukaway from the Internet.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.