Nelson Lake Bible Camp celebrates milestone

An 80th anniversary celebration was held at the Lutheran Nelson Lake Bible Camp on August 14.

“The event was well attended and a beautiful Sunday afternoon was enjoyed by all,” said Donna Chalupiak. The afternoon began with children enjoying some old fashioned children’s games while others enjoyed some time of visiting and reminiscing of past days at camp.

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At 2:30 p.m. a service of worship and thanksgiving was held in the lakeside chapel, she said. Pastor Hein Bertram led the service and the guest speaker was Lutheran Pastor Dan Haugen, who had ministered here from 1973 to 1977 and was very active in leading at the Nelson Lake Bible Camp (NLBC) during that time.

Pastor Haugen spoke on the importance of the camp for children’s and family ministry and how pleasing it is that we are celebrating so many successful years of Bible camp, she said. He also spoke of many of his memories and experiences from his years as Camp Leader.

Many of the people attending also spoke of their many memories and had lots of stories to tell about their time at camp. Some of those sharing were from the 1950s and 1960s right up to the children sharing their stories of this years’ camp when a bear came to visit, she said.

“Reflecting on the days when the camp got its beginning takes us to 1936 - 1952 when a group of pastors and the Yorkton Circuit of Young Peoples Luther League had a common goal to form a Bible Camp promoting Christian values and faith,” she said. “Camping interest grew and captured the hearts of the young, their parents and leaders within the entire area of Lutheran Churches encompassing the communities of Buchanan, Melville, Rose Valley, Naicam, Southey, Margo, Norquay, North Prairie, and Preeceville.”

In 1946 the first Bible camp board was elected and in just a short time a board of nine members was elected to allow for better representation, because the congregations were from such a very large area.

The early years of the construction program was difficult and on-going due to the lack of necessary funds, Chalupiak said. Volunteer labour was a major factor in the building process.

Summers of 1946 to 1950 saw some real changes at the camp. The chapel, which is still being used to this day, a kitchen with a lean-to dining area and some cabins were built. Improvements continued at NLBC over the years and a new dining hall and kitchen were built from 1962-1964, replacing the previous one.

Improved sleeping quarters for the cooks were built in 1965 and that same year SaskPower installed electricity at the camp replacing the private power plant that was previously used since the 1940s. In 1975-1976 the washroom facility project got underway and a few years later, showers were added along with upgrades to the toilet facilities to meet standard regulation requirements. Electrical outlets suitable for eight campers were added in 1977. During the years several cabins and dorms had also been added.

Parishes of the conference were approached for funding for the construction of a new well in 1984 and in that same year a telephone was installed for the sake of an emergency.

Decades of changes have occurred at NLBC but some things remain the same, she said. The picturesque and solitude characteristics of the site remain the same. And neither has the dedication changed, offering the continuing of children's and family ministry, teaching them of the Word of God.

The camp for several years has not only served the many Lutheran congregations but has also been used by Anglican and Pentecostal congregations for summer family camps. At present time the Buchanan, Norquay and Preeceville Lutheran churches remain active on the NLBC board. Others have gradually dropped off due to distance and by 1969 there was a total of six Lutheran camps in Saskatchewan.

The Children’s Bible Camp and Vacational Bible School program this year had 70 children total and with the help from a team of students from the Canadian Lutheran Bible Institute in Camrose, Alta. and many volunteers, provided another very successful and safe camp.

The plan in place for 2017 is to have a team from the Lutheran Collegiate Bible Institute in Outlook and organizers are planning on another very exciting summer, she said.