Who We Are

Shocco Springs is a nonprofit, Christian conference center in Talladega, Alabama. We are an entity of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, who generously provides us with funding through the Cooperative Program, but we welcome nonprofit organizations and Christian groups of many denominations because we believe that we all have one mission – the Great Commission.

Our mission is to provide a distinctly Christian environment for spiritual transformation and renewal. 

We are primarily a host facility that provides lodging, meeting space, recreation, support services, and meals for events held by Christian and nonprofit groups and organizations. We recognize that every group leader has a unique vision for their event and we strive to help make that vision a reality. Start planning your next event with us today!

We value:

People – Providing a positive, encouraging, accepting atmosphere. Making teamwork a priority. Promoting personal growth.

Integrity – Honesty, Dependability, Reliability, Commitment and Dedication.

Excellence – Striving for quality services and facilities. Sharing responsibility for resources. Supporting Kingdom ministry.

History

According to an old legend, the Indians called the land “Shocco” which means “The Gathering Place.” For many years, God has gathered His people in this small corner of the world. These people, both past and present, have made Shocco Springs the special place it is today.

These Indians gathered together in this land of many springs, long before the settlement of the United States. They reportedly carried water from the springs to the Spanish explorer, Hernando DeSoto, as he and his men passed near Shocco. Later, Muscogee Indians came from all over the great Coosa kingdom to recuperate at the healing springs. As time went on, pioneer settlers sought the cool mountain air and the refreshing springs, building rustic shelters out of branches, for shade during the hot summer.

Many years passed …

Shocco was purchased from the Indians as part of a large plantation. The new owner, John Albright, later sold the land to Jarrett Thompson, who developed it into a resort. The peaceful place called Shocco became widely known for its medicinal waters and pleasing climate. It was developed into a well-known health spa by 1874. For years, guests arrived and departed by passenger train at the Shocco Station. The popularity of Shocco Springs, as it was later named, increased rapidly in the late 1800’s until a fire destroyed the main hotel and halted further development.

God remembered this land …

God then began gathering His people in this place for retreats and Bible study. In 1910, Alabama Baptists’ first summer assembly was held at Shocco. (It was used for various other purposes as well. In 1942-44, it housed defense industry workers for World War II.) George E. Bagley visited Shocco in September 1947 to rent facilities for Baptist Training Union Assemblies, and learned that Shocco was for sale. Following God‘s leadership, he persuaded Alabama Baptists to purchase it for a Baptist assembly grounds. For $62,500, it was deeded to the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Consisting of 40 acres, 17 buildings, a swimming pool, and a dance hall (which was converted into an auditorium), it was named Shocco Springs Baptist Assembly.

With an appropriation of $20,000, construction began on three concrete block classrooms and eight wood frame cottages. Repairs and redecoration were done on all buildings, including conversion of the dance hall into an auditorium. Dr. Hobson Shirey (for whom Shirey Retreat Lodge is named) became the first manager, directing this task under God’s guidance. And the land was dedicated to God.

Shocco opened for its first conference …

In May, 1948, with 250 students attending the Baptist Student Spring Retreat. That summer, the first student summer staff served nearly 5,000 guests. In 1948-1949, the rates for one night and three meals ranged from $2.35 to $3.50.

Expansion and growth was evident …

As God continued to lead, attendance grew each year. Approximately 7,000 guests attended 17 conferences and camps in 1949. By the 1950’s, Shocco had reached a record number of conferences with 22 denominational events and 14 other groups. In 1950, Pine Lodge was completed, and four cabins and a bathhouse were constructed. In the annual brochure of 1953, Dr. A. Hamilton Reid wrote, “Alabama Baptists have owned and operated Shocco Springs for five years as our State assembly place. It has come to fill a place of much influence and spiritual uplift among our people as increasing numbers have attended the assemblies each summer. They have found there a rich combination of spiritual inspiration, happy Christian fellowship, and wholesome physical relaxation.” And after only six years in this land blessed by God, 500 people had given their hearts to Christ as Savior, and 1,500 had followed His call for full-time Christian service. In 1954, a new open-air classroom was constructed near the concrete block classrooms, and Crestview was under construction. When Dr. Hobson Shirey resigned, he shared his high regard for the summer staff, a choice group of consecrated young Christians, saying, “They were my joy.”

An important investment …

In 1955, while Dr. George Bagley was director, the Administration building, Dining Room, and kitchen were constructed, and Crestview was completed. Dr. Bagley saw the fruition of the 1947 vision God had given him – of a retreat center at Shocco Springs. 

During the next 14 years …

Several new buildings were constructed, to be used for the glory of God. Dr. Waymon Reese became the director of Shocco Springs in 1956. Happy Hollow, the girls summer staff house, (now remodeled and renamed Shirey Retreat Lodge) was constructed in 1957. The next year the Boys Staff house was completed with lumber from the old dance hall. The Director’s residence and the Shocco Chapel were built in 1958-59, as well as the bookstore and snack shop (now the Chapel Annex). The 15-acre Shocco Lake was developed and made available for guests. 1960 brought the construction of Mt. Moriah, and in 1962 the Infirmary, Pool, Bathhouse, and Tennis Courts were opened. In 1965, the Girls Auxiliary Camp (Smith Camp) was developed by Alabama WMU. The Royal Ambassador Camp (currently Adventure Camp) began construction the same year. Both camps opened in 1966. Shocco Inn was constructed in 1966, and the Children’s Building in 1968. In January of 1970, Dr. Reese retired as director. Many buildings were constructed under his leadership, but he emphasized God’s touch on people’s lives, saying, “Dedication programs continued while I was there, and hundreds of young people walked those aisles.”

Through the years God called out …

In February of 1970, Dr. George Ricker (for whom the Ricker Activities Center is named) became the first full-time director of Shocco Springs. By this time, many repairs were needed. Dr. Ricker oversaw major renovations of Mt. Moriah, Pine Lodge, Crestview, Happy Hollow, and the Boys Staff building. The construction of Springview was completed in time to be dedicated in 1973, at the 25th anniversary of Shocco. The miniature golf course was developed in 1973-74. The ministry of Shocco reached higher levels with a reported 343 professions of faith, 1154 rededications, and 565 dedications to vocational Christian service – a total of 2,062 public decisions in just 1975 alone. Shocco registered more decisions for Christ in 1975 than anywhere else in Alabama. Bagley Center was dedicated in 1976. In 1980, the Alabama WMU constructed Stephens Activities Center as a part of Smith Camp. A roof was added over the Bagley Center deck in 1983. In 1984, the Administration / Registration Center was dedicated. Dr. Ricker retired in 1989. During his years as director, Shocco was placed among the top 12 facilities of its kind in the nation. Dr. Ricker proved himself to be a good steward of Shocco Springs, but he emphasized the ministry of Shocco, saying, “It is so much more than just building buildings.”

God continued to bless Shocco Springs …

God continued to provide opportunities for further growth. Buster Taylor became the director in 1989 and still serves today. Oakridge was constructed in 1989/1990. In 1990, the Alabama WMU acquired Cook Springs for their camp facilities, and the Alabama Baptist Convention purchased the Smith Camp facilities to become part of Shocco. A full-time bookstore was opened in 1991, and the Shocco Chapel was completely renovated. The year 1992 saw the old Bookstore / Snack Shop complex converted into conference room space. It was renamed the Chapel Annex.

Each year brought growth and many changes were made to accommodate growing numbers of guests. In 1993, the Smith Camp Staff House was renovated and subsequently renamed Smith Camp Lodge. 1994 brought the completion of the first wing of Twin Lodge, replacing the Boys Staff House. An RV park with 20 spaces was developed by Campers on Mission volunteers in 1995. By 1997, the second wing of Twin Lodge was completed, to house the Summer Staff girls. That same year, four new serving lines were added to the Dining Room, and the swimming pool was expanded.

Shocco was incorporated…

In 1999 Shocco was incorporated as an entity of the Alabama Baptist Convention, to provide legal protection and to facilitate the administrative process. The ministry purpose, a Christian environment for spiritual renewal, remained constant. Improvements continued. Happy Hollow was renovated and dedicated as Shirey Retreat Lodge. In the summer of 2000, the Aqua Park was added to the lake. The new Paintball course opened in 2001, and several buildings were renovated – including Springview, Bagley Center and the Chapel.

Missions and a partnership with other Baptist groups …

In 2001, Shocco began a partnership with Camp Carabobo, the Baptist camp in Venezuela. Several teams of Alabama Baptists to Camp Carabobo as volunteers. They constructed a security wall with 22,000 cement blocks. In 2004, the Shocco team traveled to Venezuela and helped build a Ropes Course, teaching the camp staff how to use the elements as a ministry tool. A partnership with Guatemala was begun in 2007, and a summer staff volunteer team went to work with Eden Baptist Camp, and to help a local pastor reach out to young people in a refugee village. Two other Summer Staff mission teams went to the Gulf Coast in 2007. In 2013, a new partnership was formed with Children’s Hope Orphanage in Jacmel, Haiti and a Shocco Springs Mission Team went to share the gospel to the Haitian community and bring camp to the children of Haiti.

More growth …

The Ricker Activities Center, Mountain Ridge Lodge, and Rocky Ridge Lodge were dedicated in September 2003, and were used that year for the first time. The Ridge lodges each have 30 motel rooms and a total capacity of 292 guests. The Ricker Activities Center (named for Dr. George Ricker) has 2 gym floors and an indoor climbing wall. It is used as an indoor recreation option and a worship area for large groups.

Hurricane relief became a part of the Shocco experience …

Major storms in 2003 and 2004 brought new opportunities for Shocco to serve others.  Hurricane Ivan brought 430 people to Shocco for an emergency shelter. Most evacuees were from the Gulf Coast, and some local people with medical needs were included. When Hurricane Katrina left her mark on the Gulf Coast, Shocco hosted over 50 people. Some families stayed several months until their situations improved.

Over the years …

Shocco has grown from a few small buildings to a large campus. It now consists of eight guest hotels and lodges, a large main conference center with 14 meeting areas, 2 chapels, 3 activities centers, adventure camp lodging, and spacious grounds with many recreation options. The total guest capacity on the main campus is 950, and the two rustic camps add a capacity of 430. Guests arrive from Alabama, the United States, and even other countries, to attend conferences and enjoy the beauty of nature found at Shocco. A guest from Wailuku, Hawaii, commented, “This is such an awesome retreat. I felt so close to the Lord surrounded by His creation!” Shocco continues to provide an environment of beauty and peace for guests who attend retreats, camps, and conferences. In this place, many people experience spiritual transformation and renewal. Hearts are touched, and lives are impacted. The staff makes every effort to provide a distinctly Christian environment where God can speak.

The future of Shocco …

God holds the future of Shocco in His hands. He has blessed and expanded this ministry so much, that it is hard to imagine more, but already He has revealed plans for the future. The first phase of the Master Plan, the new worship center, has been temporarily put on hold. The second phase of the Master Plan has begun, with the construction of the Ridge Lodges and the Ricker Activities Center. As growth continues, it is our prayer that God would open doors for the construction of a new worship center, and that He will continue to use this special place to encourage individuals and churches in their response to His command to make the Gospel known to all people.