It was a time of rejoicing and reflection when summer staff members, friends and supporters of Manitou Lake Bible Camp (MLBC) gathered in the new dining hall Oct. 2 for the annual Celebration Supper.
After a delicious meal, catered by Faith Graham and the ladies of Manitou Evangelical Free Church, a short program was presented.
The recent 2010 camping season marked 70 consecutive years of camping at MLBC. It began in 1939-40 with the vision of Lloyd Hansen. Marrian Graham, a long time Neilburg resident, who was in attendance at the supper, was recognized for having attended camp for over 69 of those years.
Barry Peters and Chuck Krahn shared the podium as MCs for the evening. Anne Laursen, the ministry director as of January 2010, welcomed everyone. She shared how the theme for the past camping season was "Believe," based on the verse from John 3:16. Although Laursen is relatively new to her role as director, she has been involved in various aspects of the camp for the past 10 years.
Laursen gave some highlights of the last few months. The MLBC year began with a Gospel Jamboree in May. Unfortunately they experienced bad weather that weekend and the tent blew down late Saturday night/Sunday morning. Despite this setback, the stage was moved into the dining hall and the music continued to play. Laursen said that storm was an omen of things to come, as during almost every week of camp there had been some sort of rain storm to weather.
After the jamboree, there was a four day Seniors' Camp. It included a bus trip to view machinery of yesteryear. Next on the agenda was Family Camp, with over 100 people attending over the weekend. They made many memories, playing hubcap Frisbee, stuffing their own mattresses with straw and doing family sack races.
For the remainder of the summer, MLBC was host to eight straight weeks of camp. There were 784 campers in 2010, with just one more individual attending than in 2009. To accommodate these children and teens, MLBC had 36 staff members and another 43 leaders in training, known as LITs.
Several improvements have been made this year, including the construction of four new cabins, within a three-week period, earlier in the spring. Joe Schwaiger was also instrumental in heading up an extensive volunteer effort to refurbish the merry-go-round at the camp. It now sports a new hydraulic system and motor and continues to delight campers, young and old.
Chuck Krahn, one of the board members, asked for prayer as MLBC is currently without an executive director. Fred Sirett recently resigned from that position. Krahn asked supporters to pray that the proper person is found to fulfill that role in 2011 and beyond.
"It all comes together to build lives and change lives," he said. "We can't do it alone."
Three of the summer staff members spoke briefly, sharing their testimonies and what camp means to them. Some musical selections were played and several congregational numbers were enjoyed. In conclusion, a slide show of highlights from the various camps, was shown.