Rolling Hills: Calera’s best kept secret

Rolling Hills Conference and Retreat Center is Calera’s best-kept secret.

In the heart of north Calera is a gentle rolling 85-acre tract that is home to the Rolling Hills Conference and Retreat Center. It is located on Shelby County 304, one-quarter mile past Zaxby’s.

The land has two ponds, a 17-acre lake, in-ground pool and a 3/4 mile walking track. Within the walls of the 19 buildings is an atmosphere of tranquility and fun for religious and secular gatherings.

Established in 1968 by the Alabama Church of the Nazarene, the campground was built for religious purposes, but now families and businesses utilize the wonderful accommodations for weddings, retreats, reunions, concerts, banquets and business meetings.

The Family Life Center accommodates up to 1,000 guests, the youth building holds 150 and the conference room, 60. Jernigan Lodge offers 24 motel-style rooms with two queen-size beds. Two cottages, Shepherds and LakeView efficiency, are also used for events.

During the summer, five air-conditioned dormitories spill over with energetic kids. Each dorm sleeps 28. The dorms are also heated for winter retreats.

The Dining Hall has a large fireplace and is a cozy setting for conversation on chilly days. The hall is available for rent Monday through Thursdays, August through May.

Guests can canoe, paddle or pedal boat, fish and swim. Softball, sand volleyball, basketball and tennis courts are on site, as well as a wide-open activities field. Bonfire pits and hayrides are for those who can keep their eyes open after a busy, fun-filled day of activities.

Dan Ventling, Church of the Nazarene minister, and wife Jeri have directed the camp since 2009. The Ventlings previously lived in Westfield, Ind., where they founded Student Impact, a non-profit ministry that reaches youth age students.

“God used Student Impact to prepare us for this position,” Jeri said. “Dan wears many hats. He has a business mind, but is mechanically inclined, too.”

Jeri oversees scheduling, housekeeping and kitchen facilities.

“Our staff works diligently to keep the facilities clean,” she said. “Food is freshly prepared and meeting rooms are ready when guests arrive. We strive for excellence in service.”

Ed and Anne Lewis manage the Rolling Hills RV Park. “Ed and Anne service the park with southern hospitality and efficiency, both are a blessing,” Jeri said.

The full service RV Park is available overnight or weekly. It has 60 sites with 30- and 50-amp service, sewer and water.

For information or reservations call: Conference & Retreat Center (205) 668-1168; RV Park (205) 668-6893; e-mail rollinghillscamp@gmail.com; or its website: Rollinghillscamp.org

Mollie Brown can be reached at dmjhb1@bellsouth.net.