Camp Journal: 70 Years and Counting!



The largest crowd of friends ever to assemble (close to 700!) reunited on Monday, May 29 to celebrate Camp’s 70th anniversary.  The celebration was worthy of the amazing God-story rehearsed throughout the day as friends reconnected to both relive history and share new dreams. In spite of some windy, chilly weather, friends joyfully reconnected with each other and this place that they love so much.  We were so blessed to see all of the smiling faces and hugs, conversations started, friendships rekindled, and people thanked for their years of service and loving Camp.



It was an inspiring and emotional day full of memories.  With the tent full of people, we opened the event with a rousing medley of camp songs that had kids AND parents up on their feet and doing actions!  From Pharoah-Pharoah, Every Move I Make, and You Don’t Knock, the band took us through the years of camp songs, reminding us of the simple but powerful message that each one conveys about the Good News of Jesus.  Praise God!

The program featured the “Legends Band,” an interview with former managers, Larry and Marj Magnuson, “oldies” camp choruses, and inspirational challenges from long-time Camp pastors, Paul Twist and Art Robbins.  Camp’s current Executive Director, Bill Abeler, also shared a sneak peek into the future, unveiling plans for a gym and lodge on the North 40. As a boost to Camp’s future ministries, the live auction and love offering for the Scholarship Endowment Fund topped $20,000.


We also took time to remember the service of those who have gone before us, and those who have dedicated many years to making Camp a better place.  We celebrated 70 years for Camp Lebanon and 28 years of ministry in maintenance for Phil Gerth – what an amazing thing to be a part of!  There was not a dry eye in the room when Phil “passed the pencil” to our new Maintenance Director, Chris Mock.  Phil Gerth and his family have contributed so much to Camp Lebanon over the years, and that legacy will be seen for decades to come!



We rounded out the festivities by a picnic down on main Camp and the first ever Wiffleball game in Legends Stadium!  Nine sets of “Camp Legends” were honored:  Sidney and Ray Anderson, Herb & Millie Hazzard, John & Verna LaBarre, Harris Hanson & Irving Larson, Larry and Marj Magnuson, Linda Day, Phil Gerth, Roger & Gail Negaard, and Jim & Sandy Abeler. Then we pitted two eras of Camp Summer Staff against each other in an inaugural game, with staff from the Linda Day era against staff from the Pete Mades (“Crazy Pete”) era.  Such a great way to honor those two leaders and the staff teams that worked under them!


Looking back over a storied-history, guests and staff alike were challenged to remember God’s PROVISIONS in how He both “led and fed’ as Camp transitioned from tents to cabins to hotel-like lodging. Embracing today’s opportunities in a full 2017 calendar with 52 programmed events, we must also remember God’s PRESENCE to supply the strength, wisdom and compassion for each new session. And more, heading into an uncertain future with multiplied opportunities, we must remember God’s many PROMISES. 

Thanks to all who helped celebrate 70 summers and 72,033 youth campers! And thanks for helping us launch a new summer of ministry as God sends us 1700+ more to love in the name of Jesus! To God be the glory, great things He has done…and is doing! 

What a wonderful homecoming. Here’s to another 70 years (and beyond) of ministry!

For the entire photo album from the 70th Anniversary, click here.

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