In the mid-1960’s Dr. James Rufus Fish and his wife Mary Ellen donated an old bell to what was then known as Ponderosa Southern Baptist Assembly. The bell had a story to tell. It came from the mangled wreckage of Southern Pacific Locomotive #869. The train had gone off its rails near Houston, Texas some time around the year 1941. The locomotive was destroyed and sold for scrap, but the bell was saved.

For all those years, the bell was mounted to the top of the giant train engine. The ringing of that bell warned those ahead that the train was on its way. Traffic knew to get out of the way and waiting passengers knew it was time to get ready…#869 was coming through.

But once installed at Ponderosa the bell found a new purpose. Three times each day during the camp season, the bell would ring to signify mealtime. From all over the campground people would know it was time to make their way to the dining hall, it was time to eat.

Until Summer 2014.

That’s the year a new tradition was born. It was decided that the bell would be rung to signify when a life was changed. Since then, on the last day of camp, students encircle the bell and one at a time approach the rope, giving testimony to what God has done in their lives that week, and then they give the rope a big tug and ring the bell.