A camp to remember

“White Branchers” shared their special place


November 9, 2023 | View PDF

MCKENZIE BRIDGE: It was another day of celebration when people gathered at Camp White Branch last Sunday. There were plenty of reminiscences from people who either attended camps or worked there, as well as some who as they aged, had done both.

Originally named the “White Branch Lodge” the retreat was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 and run by the Obsidians outdoor group for 13 years when ownership was transferred to the Nazarene Church. Taking over in 1958, the Association of the Churches of God began its first junior and senior high camps. The result, according to Glen Hossler, COG Association. District Council Chair, has been amazing. “This is the strongest naturalistic ministry we have,” he says. “The constant spiritual growth in our youth from their experiences here I cannot over-state.”

Behind the scenes, there were plenty of people who helped keep things operating, like Ruth Bisset who first arrived in 1961 with her husband and later “managed, mopped floors, and cooked meals for from 40 to 160 people at a time.”

She joked that some of those experiences made her “keep trying to get fired, but I never could.” One was the discovery the meal she was making was short some 27 packages of hot dog buns that luckily a local store had stockpiled in their freezer.

Ruth too acknowledges the “Camp” as a special place where attending “one year of camp was the equivalent of five years of Sunday School.”

Owen Hinkle, a former board member and a volunteer also had some out-of-the-ordinary memories. One he recalled involved a spring-fed water tank that was installed up the hillside. That itself wasn’t a problem until it was found a pipe inside needed to be tightened. Luckily a young camper was just the right size to be lowered on a rope through the 12-inch opening. It was another “stroke of luck.”

“It’s been a real privilege to work up here,” Owen concluded. “God bless each one of you.”


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