BLUE JAY, CA (September 22, 2017) – One of the unexpected highlights of the recent Alpine Camp and Conference Center’s sixtieth anniversary celebration happened when current staff were able to interact with some of the camp’s founders—people such as Dan Seagren, who mortgaged his 1956 Volkswagen Beetle in order to help pay the original $8,000 deposit for the property.
“The conversations with people like Dan, Jim Stayboldt, and Gordon Staybolt, as well as others, helped our staff members gain a richer understanding of the DNA of its founding purposes and values,” said camp director Joel Rude. “Our staff is increasingly diverse, and many of them have no experiences rooted in Covenant identity.”
Making those connections was equally meaningful for Rude. “Through my conversations with the founding fathers and mothers of Alpine, I came to understand the burning ‘why’ behind their drive and sacrifices. It was a deeply moving experience to meet Dan, shake his hand and look into the eyes of one of those who was propelled by a God-given vision to help churches disciple their children in a setting at which the Spirit speaks through his word, the gifts of his people and His creation.”
The celebration was held Friday, September 15, through Sunday, September 17, and was attended by 230 people, who reminisced, reconnected, and played. Covenant comedian Bob Stromberg was the special guest.
Some of the attendees shared how their camp experiences fulfilled the founders’ vision.
Former Midwest Conference superintendent Ken Carlson said that he and his younger brother were thrilled as boys to ride with their dad, a member of the camp’s first board of directors, as he drove through Southern California and Arizona to find prospective sites for the ministry.
“From the first time we visited Alpine, we knew there was something special about this property and we lobbied hard for it to become our camp,” Carlson wrote. The property already had a lodge and six cabins. “Little did I know that just three or four years later in the summer of 1958, I would re-commit my life to Christ in that main lodge while listening to the challenging message of our missionary speaker during junior high camp. The seeds that were planted that day eventually became a lifetime call to be a pastor.”
One woman recalled recommitting her life to Christ as an 11-year-old, saying, “I encountered Christ and I knew that God was real, he loved me, and he wanted me to know him. It was the first time I remember crying because I was happy.”
The anniversary gathering not only recalled the past but also recognized the current ministry and planned future directions.
It was the first time I remember crying because I was happy.”
“Alpine’s constituency is among the most diverse of any of the Covenant’s camps,” Rude said. “We are seeking ways to more fully embrace that reality and prepare for how it will change what we do, how we do it, and where it is done,” Rude said.
In 2016 the Pacific Southwest Conference launched an initiative to plant 70 Hispanic churches in 10 years. “With Alpine located in southern California where the Hispanic population is growing faster than most, it has served as a hub for those churches,” Rude said. Gatherings at camp have included men’s, women’s, and youth retreats.
In October 2016 the camp hosted the triennial event La Confraternidad de Iglesias del Pacto Evangelico (CIPE). The event drew 112 people representing all six CIPE countries—Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, as well as Hispanics from the United States.
The camp also is exploring possible partnerships with organizations that work with victims of childhood trauma, including adults.
“We are looking at how to provide camping, retreats, and other experiences that can help with holistic healing and restoration for those who have suffered various forms and degrees of trauma,” Rude said.