Longest Serving West Point Chaplain Dies at 84

The Rev. Dr. Richard P. Camp, Jr., longest serving Chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, dies in his Sarasota home after a long battle with Parkinson's Disease. He was 84 years old.

Longest Serving West Point Chaplain Dies at 84
West Point, NY, September 28, 2020 --(PR.com)-- The Reverend Dr. Richard P. Camp, Jr., longest serving Chaplain at the United States Military Academy from 1973 - 1996, died at his Sarasota home from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease on Tuesday September 15. He was 84.

Chaplain Camp was born September 5, 1936 in Fair Lawn, New Jersey to Richard Camp Sr., also a Pastor, and Martha Spruit Camp. The eldest of 5 children, Chaplain Camp excelled at leadership and sports. He became an All-American in football and dominated in track and field. He followed his father to Wheaton College in Illinois where he was captain of the football team, ran track, wrestled, and was Crusader of the Year in 1958. Recruited by professional football teams across the country including the legendary George Halas and drafted by the Chicago Bears, Chaplain Camp chose to play semi-pro football for the Tri-City Chargers where his teammates nicknamed him the “flying parson” as one of the fastest fullbacks in the game. After completing his graduate degree at Gordon Divinity School in Hamilton, MA, he pastored several churches including East Rochester Baptist in New Hampshire and South Shore Baptist in Hingham, MA. He was the Dean of Students at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, moving to West Point where he embarked on a 23 year career as Chaplain at the United States Military Academy.

His passion was teaching cadets to build “spiritual muscle” in preparation for the Army and for the challenges of life. He would hike Bull Hill as cadets trudged up the mountain in the last week of their summer training, company after company, year after year, encouraging them with song and scripture. From Bull Hill to Trophy Point to the majestic Cadet Chapel, he reminded cadets to seek God. “I lift my eyes to the hills,” he quoted from Psalm 121. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord - Maker of heaven and earth.” A consummate relationship builder, Chaplain Camp pointed thousands of cadets to God, guiding them through some of the most challenging times in their developing lives.

He led the Academy through the arrival of the first class of women in 1976, the cheating scandal of the class 1977, led the Iran hostages reunion in 1980, championed the building of the Jewish Chapel in 1984, provided the invocation for several Heisman Trophy Award presentations, came alongside General Officers, elected officials, world leaders and scared parents dropping off their sons and daughters on the first day of Beast Barracks. Chaplain Camp retired from West Point in 1996 and became the Executive Director of A Christian Ministry in the National Parks. A lifelong athlete, Chaplain Camp ran in the Masters Track and Field circuit, setting the world record in the 4x200 meter dash at the age of 70.

Chaplain Camp is survived by his wife of 62 years, Virjean, son Brad, daughter Kristen, daughter Katherine, nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, brothers Bill Camp and Ed Camp, sisters Adrienne Reilly and Virginia Warwick and thousands of former cadets, officers and friends of West Point.

Chaplain Camp’s anchor biblical verse comes from 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”

A memorial service will be held in the Spring of 2021 at West Point. Chaplain Camp said, “Memorials should do more than cause us to look back. They ought to serve as a time of motivation, a time of reflection, a recommitment to the highest purposes in life. I suggest that significance begins with being in touch with the Creator of the universe, a relationship with the living God. What does the Lord require of you? Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with your God. My plea to you is to live significantly. The world needs leaders who will stand boldly and courageously for justice, truth and righteousness. Who knows - your greatest contribution may still be ahead!”

For more information visit www.chaplaincamp.org. Donations can be made to Chaplain Camp Christian Charities, supporting West Point Athletic Ministry at www.ChaplainCamp.org/donate or via the West Point Association of Graduates at 845.446.1657.
Chaplain Camp Christian Charities
Kathy Camp