Grindstone Lake Bible Camp (GLBC) is a camp experience where children from all around the state and beyond come to meet each other and meet God. As a result of attending camp, many children have gained memories, lasting relationships and received unconditional love and encouragement from staff.
Camp changes lives
“Camp is a place where we focus on healthy interactions between campers that lead to a strong
relationship in just a few days that allow the camper to feel safe enough to open up in ways that we can only pray for,” noted GLBC Executive Director Kevin Burgess. “There have been many instances where campers have come to camp scared, alone, and hurt, but left with friends and a new relationship with Christ.”
One particular camper we will call “Caleb” was affected in this very way. Caleb struggles with autism which makes it difficult for him to interact and connect with other kids. He came to camp feeling down and pessimistic about making any friends, and a couple times early in the week was even shedding tears over the situation. He was wondering why bad things were happening to him.
Camp counselor Isaiah Gonyea sat down and talked with Caleb. “I told him that God made everyone special and that he shouldn’t feel bad about how he was and that he would make friends,” said Isaiah. “He was frustrated and didn’t believe me.”
But halfway through the week, Caleb made a couple friends and came back to Isaiah and told him he was right. Caleb went on to enjoy the rest of his week with no more shed tears.
One boy named Jacob was being bullied and retaliating against the children bullying him. Burgess had discussions with him and helped him reach some common ground with one of the bullies. “He came to the understanding that he and the boy bullying him had more in common than they had different, as both had parents who were divorced recently and both were mad that they could not see part of their family anymore,” said Burgess. “As this unfolded during the conversation, Jacob asked about Jesus. Although Jacob went to church every Sunday, he had no idea what it meant to be a Christian. Jacob accepted Christ that week and his attitude changed. He no longer wished to fight anyone and was actively reading his Bible and befriending many people.”
Frankie was an adopted child who wandered through life in the foster system, and although he was a bright and easy going kid, he held onto a lot of baggage from his birth parents. He was taken from his home because of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his parents.
“No training truly prepares you for when a child confides in you after a few days with tears in his eyes,” recalled Burgess. “He asked a simple question, ‘Why did God allow my parents to abuse me?’”
“While we unpacked this situation together and shed a few tears, he was able to come to an understanding that God does love him, and his adoptive parents adopted him not because he needed it, but because they wanted to and he wasn’t a burden to them. He accepted Christ as his savior and now wants to work at camp and help those who have been in the foster care system,” said Burgess.
What can campers expect at GLBC?
When campers come to camp they can expect an unplugged week. “We don’t allow cell phones at camp so campers can develop intrapersonal skills and meet and make new friends,” said Burgess.
Campers can expect to have a lot of fun in the lake, play some fun, team building games in the field, and enjoy a structured version of free time where they can do anything that is supervised for the afternoon. Many decide to go swimming supervised by the waterfront trained lifeguards. Campers can also enjoy the rock climbing wall, archery, crafts, and will eventually head back to the bunk for a Bible study led by each of the cabin’s counselors.
Being a Bible camp, two daily chapel sessions are held with a speaker each week delivering an age appropriate message designed to go along with the camp theme. This year’s camp theme is “Triumph at the Cross” and will focus on the gospel and how Jesus triumphantly conquered death by his physical death, and his physical resurrection.
What’s new at GLBC?
Besides the newly constructed chapel, the camp will be providing some new programs: Grindstone 10-40, a sports camp, day camps, and a youth retreat. Grindstone 10-40 is intended to serve a generation of teens who are excited to grow in their faith and is a missionary awareness camp directed by a former missionary to Panama. It is a primitive wilderness experience that will focus on missions preparation. The sports camp will focus on the technical aspects of sports and will be coached by collegiate and former collegiate athletes; it will also focus on how to show a relationship with God in actions while being Christ-like in playing sports.
Another addition is the day camps that run alongside the overnight camps. These are designed for those who may not be ready for the overnight experience. At the end of the summer, a youth retreat called “Recharge Together” will be held. This is an opportunity for church youth groups to come together and recharge spiritually before the 2018-19 school year begins and will be held August 24-26. For more information on the retreat, see the camp website or call Ellie White at 320-262-6112.
How does the camp compare in cost?
The camp is a non-denominational camp and is run by 11 Pine and Kanabec County churches, and keeping costs low has been a goal.
“We have been able to serve the children of the area by providing a low cost camp and scholarships to those who need it,” said Burgess.
The average camp cost, according to the American Camp Association in 2017, was $704 per week. Camp at Grindstone comes with a price tag of $220 per week which runs from Sunday through Friday and includes all meals. This is made possible by the association churches and private donors. The camp has given out $26,000 in scholarships over the past four years, many of which were provided by a Peace Shalom Grant and their privately donated Elizabeth Louise Jacques Sikkink Fund (in memory of Elizabeth Sikkink, mother of a long-time board chairman). This fund is purposed with the task of providing scholarships to Pine and Kanabec County children in need.
When the camp began in 1932, the entire season budget was $152.00, and it cost $2 to attend camp for a week. The camp was founded when a group assembled to purchase the property which had a dance pavilion as its main structure, according to Dave Hogberg who has been involved with the camp since 1977 (and also met his wife at the camp). The original deal was made with three local men: Remer Rypkema, Hannas Rypkema, and Paul Hendricks. Remer owned the Hinckley Feed Store and funded the purchase. Hannahs was a long-time Pine County Sheriff, and Paul was pastor at the Hinckley Presbyterian Church.
At first, the pavilion served as the chapel, the dining hall, and housing. The early campers slept on straw mats and washed their dishes in the lake. Eventually, other buildings were constructed to replace this original structure.
“During my first summer in 1977, there were no flush toilets, just outhouses,” recalled Hogberg. “In my first few years, I was able to see the association build modern bathrooms and cabins that had bathrooms inside. Since then, there have been many additions: an air conditioned dining hall, a huge recreational building, and a new beautiful chapel.”
The original attraction of the lake is still there for swimming, canoeing and kayaking. The recreation building has a rock wall, plus ample space for indoor sports such as basketball. Other recreational attractions include an air rifle range, archery, gaga ball, and ultimate Frisbee.
How to get involved
Currently, the camp is updating some of the facilities including the beach front. They are looking for a floating dock to help enclose the swim area and allow campers to be able to practice diving in the deeper water. They are also in need of sports equipment such as soccer balls, basketballs and frisbees. The camp’s canoes are dated, according to Burgess, and they are looking for canoe donations. “Our facilities are getting a facelift this year, so we are looking for $5,000 to finish our administration building,” he added.
Partnering with the camp to allow low-income campers to attend is another way to help. “We strongly believe that Grindstone actively invests in the children of Pine County and have seen the effects of the structured fun nature of Grindstone and the focus on the Gospel that changes many campers’ lives,” said Burgess. “We have had many parents contact us and thank us for the joy that their child has when they have come home from camp and some who have even said that their child’s behavior has changed and they are no longer getting in trouble or causing trouble.”
In the way of camp staff, they are in need of a head lifeguard who is waterfront certified and a camp nurse who is CNA certified.
For more information on the camp or to register, see www.grindstonelakebiblecamp.org, call 320-245-2777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.