For almost two decades the people and churches within the District V Convention of Texas felt the need for an encampment, which would be close enough to serve all of the groups in these churches. By 1956, the desire had grown to such a point that representatives of each association were asked to serve on a committee to locate a suitable site for building an encampment. That same year, a few members of this District Committee set aside an entire day to locate suitable sites for possible consideration.
They closed their search for the day in the home of Mr. & Mrs. H.D. Miller, where they enjoyed fellowship and refreshments. It was here that Mr. & Mrs. Miller’s daughter, Mrs. Marshal R. (Happy) Sanguinet of Mathis, first heard of the desire of Baptists to build an encampment in the area. On July 18, 1957 Mrs. Sanguinet told her pastor at First Baptist Church Mathis, James Franklin, that the most beautiful and accessible site for an encampment on the lake was a piece of property owned by her uncle, D.B. Miller.
She spoke to her uncle about the plans and desires of the Baptist people for an encampment site. While they talked, Mr. D.B. Miller indicated to Mrs. Sanguinet that he knew his remaining days on Earth were few, and he wanted to set his house in order. He said, “The Lord has been very good to me and blessed me. I want what I am leaving here on earth to go to the Lord’s work.” He continued by saying, “Happy, you have never asked me for anything for yourself, and this encampment would be for the thousands of young people in our area, and the promotion of God’s Kingdom. I want to give you the plot of ground we have discussed. This gift to the encampment is your inheritance from us.” It was on March 23, 1958 after the gift had been executed that Mr. Miller passed away to his heavenly reward.
It was Mr. Miller’s desire that the new encampment should be named after his wife, Zepha. She graciously declined and suggested the name Zephyr, because it resembled her name and at the same time denoted the cooling breezes which would blow across the encampment from the lake. Mrs. Sanguinet felt that the greatest inheritance which her aunt and uncle could leave her was the knowledge that she would have a little part in this gift to the young people of South Texas.
On Sunday, August 11, 1957, the official presentation of the property was made to First Baptist Church in Mathis. The Encampment Trustees met on January 6, 1958 and at this meeting unanimously elected Bro. L.E. Rambo as the first full-time manager of Zephyr Baptist Encampment.
The first building on camp was a multi-purpose building that housed both boys and girls, as well as serving as a main dining area for groups. This building has been renovated and added to, becoming what we now call our Hospitality Center. This is our main kitchen and Dining Hall, as well as the Camp Store, Nurse’s Station and Concession Stand. Over the past 50+ years, Camp Zephyr has grown to accommodate over 600 campers at one time. It now contains a swimming pool, man-made pond, challenge course, indoor and outdoor gyms and a paintball course. It looks much different than the land on which it began. However, the mission of the camp has not changed.
Zephyr was established to be a place where the people of South Texas could escape distraction and encounter Christ. We strive to keep that legacy alive, and have seen God move in incredible ways here over the years.