Golfers raise funds for Christian camp

By Matt Hill

   JONESBOROUGH -- The Ridges Golf Course is one of the premier courses in the area, and on Monday it played host to a fundraiser for a premier Christian camp.
   The fourth annual Doe River Gorge Golf Challenge took place yesterday afternoon to raise money for the camp that's located in Hampton.
   "The purpose of the tournament is to raise money for some of the projects that we have going on, plus our on-going operational expenses," Doe River Gorge camp director Terry Maughon said.
   Doe River Gorge is a non-profit organization, making fundraisers like this one key to the camp's survival.
   "When you're a non-profit organization, you try to do what you can to raise the funds you need for operations and expansions," Maughon said.
   "That's what we're doing here with the golf tournament."
   The money raised is definitely going to a good cause. The camp has plenty to do, but everything there is centered around God.
   According to Maughon, all sorts of things go on at Doe River Gorge.
   "We run nine weeks of summer camp called Adventure Quest," Maughon said. "We have programs for kids eight to eleven years old, and programs for kids in junior high and senior high. And right now all of our programs fill up by about February."
   The programs filling up cause the gorge to turn away almost 500 kids a year, which means money is desperately needed for expansion.
   "Our goal is to expand to get more kids," Maughon said. "But of course expansion is expensive, and our next expansion is going to be real expensive. Everything we have is maxed out right now."
   With a full field and 30 sponsors, plenty of money was raised on Monday.
   Maughon knows exactly what the gorge is going to do with it.
   "Here at the golf tournament, this money will first of all go to make up for any operational decencies we have," Maughon said. "Then beyond that the money will go for new programs and new expansion."
   The Doe River Gorge is a place that almost never closes, and there's always something for the whole family to do.
   Maughon believes anybody can find things to do at Doe River Gorge.
   "We're open all year round," Maughon said. "In the summer, we're running our Adventure Quest programs. We also do a Day Quest program on certain Saturday's in the summer where families and church groups can come out and enjoy the Gorge.
   "But then throughout the rest of the year we do retreats for churches. We do a father-son retreat. We also have some cabins and some railroad cars that we rent out to families if they want to come up and spend the weekend. But yeah, we're open 365 days a year."
   As for the golf itself, Sam Grogg, Steve Carter, Dave Brown and Jeff Blackburn were all part of the select-shot team that finished first in the championship flight with a 16-under par round of 56.
   Blackburn was pleased to be on the winning team, but is even happier about helping out the Doe River Gorge.
   "I've been on the board of directors at Doe River Gorge since it started," Blackburn said. "It's just really great to see all the participation out here and see people involved with the tournament, and to know the impact the funds that are raised today will have in the lives of young people. It's just really encouraging to see this turnout, and to see this great event."