CHELSEA, Ala. (WIAT) — The Knight family is on a mission to renovate Hargis Retreat, a Christian camp that has been in Shelby County for nearly 60 years.

Following decades of wear and tear on the camp’s buildings, owners Kellie and Pastor Aaron Knight are hoping to bring Hargis back to its former glory. 

Hargis Retreat first opened as a Christian campground in 1964. The YMCA owned the property from 1999 – 2019. That’s when the Knights stepped in.

“There are 14 cabins or buildings on the premises,” Kellie Knight said. “Everything needs to be repaired and made new again. Everything is working – the lights come on. We just need a lot – from 300 mattresses to canoes.”

The YMCA owned the camp grounds until 2019, when the Knights bought it. Since then, the Knights have been asking the community to help fund the renovation project and the community has delivered. In December alone, they raised $195,000. This year, they hope to multiply those donations fivefold. 

However, all donations don’t have to come in cash. 

“Construction companies said they’d come and paint the exterior of the buildings for free,” Kellie said. “It’s amazing to see because that’s how it got started. Back in 1964, there were pictures of ladies with long dresses and paint rollers and the community came together. We’re seeing that repeat.”

The Knights say God gave them the vision for Hargis that they hope will house life-changing experiences one day. Now, they are asking the community for a helping hand.

The Knights set a goal to collect $1 million in donations in 2022. Considering they received $195,000 just in December 2021, they say that million dollar total is within reach.

“Whatever we can get help with – whether that’s boots on the ground or monetarily,” Aaron Knight said. Everything this first year is pretty crucial.”

You can contribute to the Knight family’s efforts to restore Hargis Retreat through their website and Facebook page.