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Fifty Years of a Developing Dream – Part 3

Chapter Three:
Construction Years – Facility Development & Program Deadlines!

The years 1955 to 1958 were the years of search, site selection, and shaping of the new Camp/Conference Center by the Free Methodist Conference. There was a powerful surge of energy and enthusiasm generated.

If the activity of those years seemed frenetic and intense, the construction period – 1958-1962 – became even more so. Reading through the records of dozens of meetings almost takes one’s breath away! There were several reasons:

• The denomination’s two former campgrounds were no longer available.
• Constituency support for this project had to be maintained-even strengthened.
• The parent denomination’s Youth Camps were already advertised.
• Other ministries had discovered the new project before it was even ready!
• The first large Family Camp was scheduled to be held the summer of 1960!

Cedar Lodge, then called the “dining hall” was well under construction. But along with this, the infrastructure was being developed. This included clearing and selling timber, building roads, developing the water system, installing water lines, making electrical plans, and preparing for waste water treatment.

In addition, there was the development of a subdivision just north of the Camp proper, now known as Warm Beach Heights, where people could purchase permanent lots and build homes. Sales of these lots helped finance part of the Camp’s development.

The committee minutes are liberally sprinkled with the issues of constant demand upon the planning members who, to a large extent, were “exploring new territory” for the Church in developing this great ministry dream.

One gets at least some feeling of the intensity by just reading through the list of planning and construction projects tackled during this period:

  • 1957: Master Plan developed; land clearing and site development began.
  • 1958-60: Cedar Lodge built.
  • 1959: Twelve Olympic View Cabins, plus two restrooms built, and 440 Junior and Junior High campers attended the first camps in them.
  • 1959-60: Water system designed and lines extended to new facilities.
  • 1960: First section of RV campsites constructed.
  • 1960: Basic recreational facilities constructed.
  • 1960: Mount Baker Family 4-plex Cabins constructed.
  • 1961-62: Sewage Treatment Lagoon constructed.
  • 1962: Cascadian Lodge constructed.
  • 1962: Swimming Pools built.
  • 1964: Chinook Village Camp built, using tepees.

Is it any wonder that reading through the records about this period nearly makes one dizzy? And all this time, many other Christian groups were asking when Warm Beach Camp would be ready for them to rent for their programs.

Behind the development of the facilities was another strategic infrastructure that made the development possible: the people – ministers and lay – who worked tirelessly to guide the process. The record shows that committees and study groups met almost weekly, sometimes more often, to stay on top of the myriad of details involved in the journey.

A simple list of names of those involved does not do justice to the actual history, but many names kept appearing on the committee roll calls: C. D. Kirkpatrick, Forest C Bush, Robert Fine, Dr. C. Dorr Demaray, Burton T. Root, C. W. Burbank, S. E. Fosket, Glen Hallman, Elmer McDowell, George Johnson, John McIntosh, Winfred McMullen, plus dozens of others.

In 1961, Rev. Winfred McMullen was chosen as the first Director of Warm Beach Camp. A pastoral leader in the Free Methodist Conference, McMullen moved into public education to support his family so he could serve the fledgling Camp weekends and summers. Winfred and his wife, Eleanor, began what would become thirteen years of tireless service, packing up their family nearly every weekend during the school year, and then living at the Camp for the summer months. Their lives of service proved again that it is the dedicated people behind any organization or ministry that make the difference.

Another fact comes into focus all through the records: This project was and is a ministry of faith. Never was there a time of surplus of funds. Most often, it was just the opposite … the planners having their faith tested as they sought to move forward while knowing they did not have the funds available, only to find that, in God’s Providence, the need was met by another miracle provision. This stood out repeatedly in the records!

Through all this the work continued, getting this facility ready for ministry. And this happened as soon as any of the buildings were even part-way completed. Guest groups gladly came to the new facility, using the very basic new buildings and equipment.

Take for instance the first full summer schedule-1960: Five weeks of Junior and Junior High Camps were held in the Olympic View Cabins, and one week of High School Camp. The week of Free Methodist Family Camp stretched all the capacities of the fledging Conference Center. Hundreds of campers occupied all the Camp’s lodging, while hundreds more camped in trailers and tents all over the spacious grounds.

Since there was no general “tabernacle” or auditorium facility, a huge three-pole circus tent was erected, complete with sawdust floor. That tent would be used for several years more before the funds were raised for the Program Center Auditorium.

The 1960 summer season was rounded out with five weeks of use by guest groups – all this in a facility dedicated to ministry, but still far, far from completed.

As construction proceeded, more groups sought to use Warm Beach Camp. The year 1962 saw Young Life bringing 250 campers, sleeping them everywhere, as did Pilchuck Council of Camp Fire with 265 youngsters. Several denominations seized the opportunity to make Warm Beach Camp their home. Among the first were Christian Reformed Church’s Cascade Bible Camp and the Lutheran Brethren Bible Camp, both of which have continued coming to Warm Beach Camp annually, to the present.

But this story is about more than the development of a great facility. It is really about a place where people of all ages can come aside and experience the Grace of God working in their lives. To the fulfillment of this purpose, scores of people bear testimony.

And the story is not over yet. We’ll explore another segment of the trek of faith of Warm Beach Camp and its people … next time.

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