Trek Thru Truth museum eyes Highway 64

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 9/10/19

The preliminary steps of Trek Thru Truth have taken more than a decade, but the actual placement of the initial exhibits is near at hand.Founder Doug Caywood, and his wife, Jill, announced Saturday …

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Trek Thru Truth museum eyes Highway 64

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The preliminary steps of Trek Thru Truth have taken more than a decade, but the actual placement of the initial exhibits is near at hand.

Founder Doug Caywood, and his wife, Jill, announced Saturday evening the first series of exhibits will be located at Bradley Square Mall, with installation beginning this week. Also, negotiations  are being finalized for the purchase of a 58-acre tract of property along Highway 64, east of Cleveland, for the main campus of the Biblical children's museum.

"We've leased space in Bradley Square Mall (for the initial exhibits)," Caywood said following Saturday's interactive 2019 Gala.

"We will be moving some of the exhibits into the mall this coming week, and this process will continue through the fall," he said.

These initial exhibits will include an archeaology exhibit in partnership with Lee University, and a collaboration with the Museum of the Bible, "Billy Graham, Pilgrim Preacher."

Another of these initial exhibits will feature a Biblical camel. The camel was a fixture at Saturday's Gala, but Caywood admitted the dromedary doesn't yet have a name.

"We're planning a naming competition for the camel," he said.

Several of Saturday's guests stopped by the camel for a photo opportunity.

In his update on developing plans for Trek Thru Truth, the $20 million future Bible-focused children's museum in Cleveland, Caywood emphasized a number of things are planned for this fall. Aproximately one fourth of the eventual 52 exhibits will be located in leased space at the mall. 

This initial step will be among four phases planned for the museum, which will continue in the future with the groundbreaking on the 58-acre tract off Highway 64, and the follow-up placement of 13 yearly exhibits over three 12-month periods, bringing the total number of exhibits to 52.

Regarding the property being purchased, Caywood said the site is within a 15-minute drive from Interstate 75, on the opposite side of Cleveland.

Accompanied by aerial views of the location, from a drone, Caywood said this is a wild, natural piece of property, with a creek running through it. He emphasized it is an ideal location for the Trek Thru Truth Museum Center, and an advantageous location. The property is a former family farm.

He pointed out that a number of the initial exhibits at the mall will be Escape Room experiences, which is a current theme for interactive learning. As an example of these exhibits, guests at Saturday's Gala were engaged in an Escape Room exercise.

Students from Bradley Central High School were available for assistance in solving the educational puzzle during a timed period.

In talking about the vision of Trek Thru Truth, Caywood said, "We are not just telling the story of the Bible, we're establishing curriculum standards for teaching kids."

Discussing the actual launch of this project and how it will be achieved, Caywood focused on the four-phase process, with three additional stages from now through 2021.

There will be four separate establishments of exhibits, and the beginning and completion of construction of the museum center.

This process, and the eventual 52 exhibits, will begin this coming week with placements of exhibits at Bradley Square Mall. This initial phase scheduled for completion by January 2020.

There will be the camel exhibit, an Old Testament/New Testament display, corner displays, the archeaology venture with Lee University, the Billy Graham exhibit, and additional collaboration with Museum of the Bible for its traveling exhibits. 

The Caywoods began this odyssey of Trek Thru Truth more than a decade ago, when they were taking one of their sons to the Children's Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, when his brother was in NICU.

That ailing brother is now a healthy 14-year-old, and is one of the more enthusiastic supporters of Trek Thru Truth. He joined his parents, and high school classmates, in assisting at Saturday's Gala.

The Gala included a reception, beginning at 6 p.m., and a silent auction. Prior to the meal by sponsoring vendors, Caywood issued a welcome, and Phil Taylor of Crossnet Baptist Network, provided a prayer.

The Escape Room experience followed the hands-on meal, and lasted for about an hour.  Caywood then presented his project update, with the announcement of placement of exhibits in Bradley Square Mall to begin immediately, and the anticipation of closure on the property purchase.

Other Gala highlights including the listing of corporate sponsors, Lewis Group Architects: Logan/Thompson PC; and the Richardson Group KW Cleveland.

Food vendors were Dos Bros, Kathryn Ervin, Jill Caywood, Lasater's Coffee and Tea, Old Fort Restaurant, Shane's Rib Shack, and Sharon Williams.

Also contributing to the Gala were Boston Uncommon, Theme Fusion, Church of God of Prohecy Ministry Training Center, Misty Mountain Greenhouse, White Wing Christian Bookstore,  Award Realty, Boanerges Baptist Church, Jeff and Kathy Morelock, Peoples Home Equity Mortgage, Jim and Lettie Whisman, and several other individuals, organizations, and churches.

Caywood expressed his appreciation to Saturday's guests.

"This incredible project is only a reality because of your support, your financial donations, in-kind contributions and prayers," he emphasized in closing.

He said  the ultimate mission, of the Caywoods and their many partners, is to create a museum for children that teaches the Bible.

There will be images, drawings, sketches and prototypes in the 52 future instructional exhibits of the museum and the $10 million first phase (of the $20 million project) will soon become a reality. These initial exhibits will include the unnamed camel.

Caywood said  the museum, once finished, will bring about 150,000 visitors to Bradley County in the first year, as well as approximately $10 million annually in tourism revenue. 

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