Sharing his love of the outdoors

Mar 11, 2021 | Crestline


By Mary-Justine Lanyon

Growing up in Southern Alabama, Nathan Godwin spent most of his time in the woods and on the water.
“It was a fun childhood,” Godwin told members of the Crestline-Lake Gregory Rotary Club. “I loved being outdoors.”

He took that love with him to college, where he studied aquatic health. “Are the fish healthy?” he said was the question. “If so, then the water must be healthy.”

Godwin interrupted his education to enlist in the Marines, telling the Rotarians he was right at home at boot camp at Parris Island. When he had to list where he would like to be stationed next, Godwin put down 29 Palms. “I had never been in the desert before,” he said. While the Marines were surprised at his first choice, he got it.

Godwin became involved with a youth group at the First Baptist Church in 29 Palms while in the Marines. When they needed a male chaperone for a trip up to Thousand Pines camp in Crestline, he got permission to go from his commanding officer. It was while at the camp that he met the young woman who would become his wife.

The two were married at Thousand Pines and, when he got out of the Marines, they both eventually went to work at the camp. First, Godwin return to school, earning his bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in education. He taught middle school science for several years, which he loved.

“I spent my summers at the camp and loved it,” he said. The second summer, Steve Garcia approached him about working at the camp full-time, running the outdoor education program and their science program. Godwin and his wife bought a house in Crestline.

Now that Lake Gregory Community Recreation Company has been named the new concessionaire for Lake Gregory Regional Park, Godwin has been tapped as the general manager and will be in charge of the lake.

“I thought it sounded like a lot of fun,” he said. “I was missing the water in Alabama.”

As for what is happening with the lake, Godwin said they are “trying to land some big wins early on – get some things working so we can show the community this is what we’re after.”

As soon as they took over management of the lake on March 1, they unlocked the skate park. Kids had been climbing under and over the fence, Godwin said. “They were breaking the rules to be in there.

“We are already seeing families returning to the skate park,” he told the Rotarians. “The more families you have there, the more it pushes out bad influences. This was a little victory for me.”

Godwin said he had a plumber inspect the splash pad, which has not been operational for several years. The good news is the plumber said he did not see anything major that needed to be fixed. With a couple of days work, the plumber told Godwin, it could be back up and running.

That is important to Godwin, who has small children of his own, because he recognizes that families will be at the lake with children of different ages. One, he noted, wants to go down the water slide, another wants to be in the lake. Ideally, the parents can sit on the beach and watch them all. If the splash pad is not available for the little ones, someone has to hold their hands while they’re in the lake.

The Lake Gregory Company, as the new concessionaire is known, is putting together some membership deals. “We keep hearing how expensive county regional parks can be,” Godwin said. “That is one of our biggest concerns coming into this. The county sets the pricing and says we have to follow it. We have worked out a deal so they approve our packages.”

Currently, there are placeholders on the new website – – for the various levels of membership.

They are also working on an annual parking pass. “We’re not allowed to offer free anything,” Godwin said. “Our contract states we can’t give it away.”

The Lake Gregory Company had just placed an order for seven electric Duffy boats, Godwin said. Each will seat nine adults with a table in the middle. “We’re excited to see them,” he said. “They will be delivered as they are finished. All should be here by Memorial Day.”

Godwin added they are in talks with a few companies to get a full assortment of canoes, kayaks, rowboats and fishing boats. “I understand the difference between a rowboat and a fishing boat because I grew up with them,” Godwin said.

In addition, a new inflatable water park is being built for the lake.

As for the field by the San Moritz, Godwin said they are hoping to get it back online. Right now, he noted, it’s dirt with a little bit of green and a lot of big rocks. “We would like to have it regraded, get rid of the rocks, turn it into a green field with irrigation.”

Godwin noted that the VFW used to have a car show in the field. “I’m a fan of that,” he noted, adding they are thinking of putting a stage on the field with seating on the lawn – people would bring blankets or lawn chairs. They could hold the summer concert series there and add a screen so there could be movie nights on the lawn.

There is work that needs to be done at the San Moritz, Godwin said, “but it’s actually in great shape. We are thrilled with it.”

The contract calls for the plans for Camp Switzerland to be designed by January 2022 with an opening in January 2023. “We want Camp Switzerland to be the kind that people drive a long distance to get a spot because it’s that nice. Campers will be able to enjoy the lake and the trails.

“The nicer the campground is, the better quality of people you bring in. the fewer problems you have,” Godwin said.



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