The Canada Pacific District has operated summer camps since the late 1950’s, well over a half century, utilizing facilities that were owned and operated by other denominations, organizations or the provincial government.
The district records show that we in fact did own a camp ground for an exceptionally brief period of time back in the 1930’s, in the earliest days on the district. At that point in time there were only churches in Cloverdale, Vancouver, Abbotsford and Port Mann. The district journal of the day indicates that the camp was located along the Fraser River somewhere in the vicinity of the Patullo Bridge. There is, at least as of this posting, little additional information about these grounds. Whether or not camps were actually held there is unclear. In that day the camping experience would have probably been a bit like a “rough” camping trip of today including the hoisting of a large tent for meetings, crude benches for seats and any manner of options for cooking – quite unlike the developed facilities we currently enjoy and far less benefits than we have on what we call “wilderness” trips today.
The longest stretches of “settledness” at any singular camp facility have been when we were at Crescent Beach Camp (late 50’s to early 70’s and briefly again for Family Camp only, in the mid to late 90’s) and at Camp Charis (we were at Charis for two separate periods of time – 70’s and mid 80’s to early 90’s). Otherwise we have hosted camps at other locations across the province including Point Roberts, Falkland in the Okanagan, Pender Island and perhaps some we’ve lost track of along the way.
Family Camps at Cresent Beach in those early days from the late 50’s to the 70’s included a program for teens during the daytime and then folks gathered together from across the lower mainland and fraser valley for nightly tent meeting services on the grounds which culminated in large Sunday services, three if memory serves correctly. I believe it wasn’t until the 70’s sometime at Camp Charis that we stopped having a mid afternoon Sunday service as well as morning and evening. I believe there was a particular focus for those afternoon services which may have included an emphasis on Missions.
In those earliest days at Crescent Beach individuals such as Welker, Follis, Palmer, Boyd, Bartram, Bahan, Ashenhurst, James, Olsen, Glastetter, McLeod, Witte, Attrell, Kreiger, Jolin and a number of others were virtually camp icons and those who laid a solid foundation for a camping program that has stood the test of time regardless of where we have “briefly” established our roots.
Until the mid 70’s our children’s, family and youth (inclusive of all teens) camps operated together at the particular facility we were renting. In 1977, when all of our camps were at Charis, Riley Coulter, then the pastor of the Chilliwack congregation, began what we believe was our first camp exclusively designed for senior teens. It was a wilderness or camping camp, in the out of doors – tenting, cooking out doors, etc. The first and many subsequent Senior Teen and later combined Young Adult Camps were held at provincial government or private group camp sites. The first camp in 1977 was held at Allouette Lake, Golden Ears Park at which it remained for 4 years. The new venture at had one registration the night before the camp and much to Riley’s relief, 24 campers showed up the next day. Following that we moved to Manning Park, then on to Green Lake in the Cariboo, Alice Lake and other places including Sidney Island, McKenzie Beach – Tofino, Pavillion Lake, and of late, Camp Squeah.
At Camp Charis leaders such as Rennick, Collier, Wood, Ashenhurst, Bartram, Muxworthy, Funk, Schell, Tucker, Johnson, Olsen, Murray, Straiton, Nicholas, Boyd, Coulter and so many others continued the thread of influence and kept the foundations of our camping ministry strong, leading us steadily to the camping ministry of today.
As we move into the 2013 season we are, for the first time since the earliest days of our camping ministry in the late 50’s, hosting all of our camps – Junior High, Family, Children’s and Senior High/Young Adult Camps at one location: Camp Squeah, Hope, BC.
You are cordially invited to send in your memories of the “CPD Camping Road Trip” so to speak. We would love to add your contributions to the historical record and “memory” of what you experienced live and in person. Or, send along some “camp stories” you picked up along the way from family and friends. We would be so grateful to receive your input as we build our collective story. Your pictures would also be desired, particularly those from the last century!!! Send them along as .jpgs which will allow us to easily create an archive photo album for all to enjoy.
We learn and the Lord often calls us to serve because of the example and committed service of others. It is in observing the influence of those who have gone before us or who are setting that example in the midst of us today, perhaps as we work alongside of them, that we take our place in the thread of history that moves us forward in this or any area of ministry. We honour all those who have given of themselves in the camping ministry on Canada Pacific District for more than 50 years. Although we may not have a permanent dwelling place, we have a rich, vibrant and longstanding history of people who have caused this vital ministry to endure.
Today’s Camp Board and Directors: Earl Wood, Lorna Bartram, Heather Johnson, Sara Epp, Matt Wood, Hayley and Andrew Tarrant and Bruce Wergeland are as committed as were the leaders of camping programs in the past and we are especially grateful for the Lord’s guidance and particularly the work of Sara Epp (Murray, grandparents – Boyd) in laying the groundwork that opened the doors to our new venture at Camp Squeah. We hope and trust that we will have an enduring stay at Camp Squeah for years to come as we continue to build on 50 years of ministry.