CAMP LA VERNE FACTS
1924 — First Camp rented: San Gabriel Y.M.C.A.
Camp on Jenks Lake.
1925 — First Camp held on newly purchased land. Tent platforms built and a crude cook house was constructed.
1927 — Camp acquired an extra 3.5 acres of land.
1929 — Long Beach Church builds a cabin.
1930 — Dining hall was built.
1931 — New Cook-house, mess hall, office and shower.
1932 — New lodge formally dedicated, and several acres of extra land were acquired.
1935 — Five new cabins, community kitchen and 10 boats were aquired.
1937 — An estimated $3,300 was spent on camp improvements.
1939 — A new craft lodge was built.
1944 — Leaders and staff members at camp were paid.
1946 — Bluebird Camp Association used camp facilities to start camps for the hard-of-hearing and deaf.
1947 — Lights were installed for the first time in the lodge. Baptism was phased out of the camping program.
1948 — Jenks Lake could not be used during girl’s camp.
1951 — Several cabins are winterized. Winterized facilities are now available for small groups.
1956 — The nurse’s cabin is completed.
1959 — The water system went under constant chlorination.
1961 — No water in Jenks Lake. Promotional brochures revised after more than 30 years.
1963 — La Verne College uses Camp for freshman orientation.
1966 — Combined younger/older girls camps and younger/older boys camps.
1969 — Built a 100,000 gallon water tank. The nurse’s cabin was converted to the manager’s residence.
1970 — Largest indebtedness in camp history: $13,178. First Camp Banquet at $50 a plate raised about $9,000, including pledges and special gifts.
1971 — Out of debt (April 1971). Camp fees were not enough to run the camping program. First "Friends of Camp" Award given to Alice Jenkins, at second Camp Banquet.
1972 — Camp became incorporated June1, 1972. Mike Mann and Ray Weaver became the first BVSers to serve as residential caretakers and winter managers.
1973 — A physical exam was no longer required to go to camp. One Hundred trees are planted by Campers and Parents.
1980 — The water disposal system was developed and installed.
1984 — Updated master plan finished.
1986 — Cabins were repaired thanks to North County Church (C-13), La Verne Church (C14) and Valley View Church (C-2).
1987 — A new Camp folder was designed.
1988 — The director’s cabin was renovated by the Koinonia Class, La Verne. The Peace Pole was dedicated.
1989 — New restroom site was approved.
1991 — Rebuilt steps lead from the Lodge to the fire pit. Walls and doors were added to some cabins.
1992 — A major earthquake on June 28 prompted foundation repairs on cabins C-11, C-12, C-13 and the Crafts Lodge. The restroom site was excavated and a retaining wall was built.
1993 — The water well was installed to meet requirements mandated by the Health Department. Insulation and dry wall work completed on the Lodge. Footings and rough plumbing were in place for the new restroom. Electric power line from Camp Ta Ta Pochon to water tank was started.
A 1920s way to travel to Camp.
Mary Shaffer holds the longest directing career at Camp.
First Camp bus purchased to transport campers.
Jenks Lake during the early years.
Rev. Edgar Rothrock, "father of camp," founded Camp La Verne in 1924.
Automobiles in 1928 transport children to camp.
Diving tree at Jenks Lake in 1926.
Rev. Rothrock stands by the new boats acquired by Camp La Verne in 1935.
The lodge was built in 1932.
The craft lodge was built in 1939. Both buildings are still being used by people who attend Camp La Verne today.
Dwight Hanawalt, former camper and director of Camp La Verne, is a great supporter of the program today. "I still like to keep in touch with people who were campers," said Hanawalt.
Camp La Verne leader and his cabin group in the 1950s.
Junior High Boys group for Camp La Verne in summer of 1952.
1952 summer camp brochure and registration form.
To accommodate eating arrangements, meals were served in the lodge after the fire destroyed the dining facility.
"Every Camp banquet is like an Alumni reunion for people who have been campers. The concept of the banquet is to give everyone a chance to reflect and affirm the validity of Camp La Verne."
—Dr. Peggy Redman
Peace pole stands on Camp La Verne grounds in front of lodge.
The 1988 Peace Pole dedication brought friends and family to celebrate its symbolic world peace message.
Steve Schatz reaches high on a ladder in order to paint the ceiling area of the restroom.
Rugere Departe e places the finishing touches in the storage area.
Dudley Marek supports Harvey Good as they work on the restroom.
Denny Wheeler participates one of many work weekends on the restroom at Camp La Verne as he helps paint the interior.
The building crew completed the restroom summer of 1999. The facility was dedicated at family camp in September.
by Summer Herndon
Camp La Verne: Memories of the Past
It was the summer of 1924 when the Church of the Brethren organized three camp sites—Camp Harmony, near Johnstown, Pa.; Tinker Mountain, near Roanoke, Va.; and Camp La Verne, near Big Bear in the San Bernardino Mountains. Church of the Brethren camps during the early years were attended by young people and college-aged youth. The camping period varied from one to 10 days, and the fees for a camper ranged from $6 to $17 per week. Camp attendance was estimated at about 100, and camp leadership was usually voluntary. Today, there are 33 Brethren camps; Camp La Verne was founded during a period in which the camping movement was accepted nationally.
Camp La Verne is celebrating its diamond anniversary this year. Within these 75 years, the camp has allowed children and adults to experience a church-related camping structure on the same traditional location that their parents or even grandparents visited as a camper. Through the years, Camp La Verne has experienced improvements and some downfalls as well. The 1920s saw the founding of Camp La Verne; the 1930s brought new camp site developments; and the 1940s allowed the Bluebird Camp Association to use camp facilities. In the 1950s, former campers were brought back as camp leaders, and the new winterized cabins were built, while the 1960s stood as a time of devastation after a fire destroyed the dining hall, kitchen and cook’s cabin. In the 1970s, 100 trees were planted by campers and parents; the 1980s brought the dedication of the peace pole; and the 1990s called for cabin reparations after the 1992 earthquake left its mark on the campsite.
1920s: Founding of Camp La Verne
In 1923, the new pastor of the La Verne Church of the Brethren, Reverend Edgar Rothrock, was confronted with a problem: Should he take a group of boys from the La Verne Church of the Brethren camping with the Pomona Y.M.C.A. group? His response was simple—the boys should wait until the following year so that the girls of the La Verne Church could be included. This idea would allow the children to go to camp as a church group rather than as a Y.M.C.A. group.
Rev. Rothrock had experience setting up camping programs. During his first pastorate at Bethel Church of the Brethren, he helped with the camping program. Following, as pastor of the Church of the Brethren in South Beatrice, Neb., he promoted summer camps for children.
Acting as a leader of the first Brethren camping program on the west coast, Rev. Rothrock took the initiative and promoted the idea of aquiring the site for Camp La Verne. Due to the great support, leadership and hard work from volunteers in his home Church, the idea of naming the site “Camp La Verne” was established.
In 1928, he became involved in the printing business and stayed active in church and community affairs. The seed for an enduring camp program was planted. Following Rev. Rothrock’s lead, support for the camping program spread beyond the La Verne Church. Today, nine Church of the Brethren congregations in the Pacific Southwest District plus many outside organizations send children to Camp. During the first year at Camp La Verne, there were an estimated 40 campers and leaders in attendance. The period between 1924 and 1930 represented a time of continued growth for Brethren camping, as camp attendance and the production of more camp sites increased. At the first camp excursion of summer 1924, the cost per camper was $1, and a total of 35 campers attended.
The first two Camp directors were Marguerite Dickey and Chase Harper, both former Y.M.C.A. camp directors who used Y.M.C.A. material for songs and other activities. The directors wrote a Camp La Verne leadership manual. In 1928, Mary Shaffer served as the girls camp director, a post she held for the next 16 years.
1930s: Period of Growth and
Development for Camp La Verne
The 1930s was not only a time of the Great Depression, but it was also a time of expansion for Camp La Verne. In 1930, the Board of Christian Education decided to expand the camping program to four camps rather than simply two. This allowed Camp La Verne to expand its site and develop several new facilities with the help of volunteer laborers. The expansion of the Camp began in 1932 when new cabins were built. The new lodge was completed and dedicated that same year at the Young People’s Camp, which raised $500 for the materials to build it. Since some of the other buildings did not reach the standards of the forestry service, Camp La Verne facilities were being improved from 1933 to 1936. Many of the buildings used in the camp’s early years still are functional today.
In 1934, the number of campers rose to 350, and as soon as the camp was rented out, the attendance ranged from 600 to 800 campers. When Camp La Verne was rented to outside youth organizations, Camp officials were able to produce enough money to add to the improvements. In 1937 and 1938, a new mess hall, kitchen and hospital cabin were built.
Dwight Hanawalt Directs
Bluebird and Youth Camps in 1940s
In the early 1940s, a group of deaf and hard-of-hearing children from Los Angeles attended Camp La Verne as regular campers. In the following years, the Camp Board granted a request to develop a camping program for these children, who were later named the “Bluebirds.” The attendance of the Bluebird Camping Association during 1946 was 35 girls and 30 boys. They stayed in separate cabin units from the regular campers in an area called “Bluebird Hill,” which was located west of the lodge.
Directing the Bluebird Camp were Dr. Dwight Hanawalt and Marie Lukens. Although the Bluebirds were part of a separate camp program, both Dr. Hanawalt and Lukens provided activities similar to those of regular camp. The week’s activities included hiking, waterfront activities and campfire gatherings. The group continued to attend Camp La Verne until 1950, when it acquired its own camp.
Dr. Hanawalt was an active member of Camp La Verne. He started his camp experience as a camper in 1929, camp counselor in 1938, the summer director for the boys camp in 1941, youth director for high school and college youth camp from 1945 to 1948, and he continued directing camp in the 1950s. Dr. Hanawalt built the program on his academic experience. He received his doctoral degree in outdoor education and taught camp counseling and outdoor education courses at the University of La Verne for 45 years. “I wish the culture could accept the values of outdoor living and the challenges and freedom that come when you are in a camping environment,” said Dr. Hanawalt, referring to today’s youth who seem anchored to their video games and television.
In the 1940s, Hanawalt directed more than 100 campers at a time at Camp La Verne. As a Camp La Verne camper himself, he remembers how exciting it was to hike Grayback Mountain, the highest point in Southern California, swim in a mountain lake and sit around a camp fire and tell stories. “I felt Camp La Verne was a great program because I have been very much interested to what happens to kids in an outdoor situation. The outdoor setting gives them a sense of independence,” said Dr. Hanawalt, “and camp offered the opportunity to try your wings.”
Former Campers Return as
Camp Leaders in 1950s
The early ’50s at Camp La Verne introduced the completion of the winterized cabins. This new building project would allow the Camp to expand its usefulness and possibly increase the number of campers during winter camps. Many small church and college groups were able to take advantage of the opportunities Camp La Verne had to offer by holding their own weekend retreats in these new cabins. The first cabin was built on the site of the first kitchen, and the other was located near the stream area.
During the years between 1944 and 1959, Camp La Verne was a self-supporting program with funds coming from rental groups and Brethren campers. Attendance was estimated at 350, and fees raised from $12 in 1945 to $24 in 1959. With the money accumulated from the camp programs, officials were able to introduce another building program, which resulted in the completion of the nurse’s cabin.
The late 1940s and early 1950s was also a period when former campers returned to camp and took on the position of being camp leaders. Camp La Verne usually had 10 leaders who were responsible for their own group of seven or eight campers. Each person had to be at least 16 to 17 years of age or of senior standing in high school, but most were in college. “Camp La Verne was like a vacation for the leaders,” said former camper and director Clair Hanawalt.
Hanawalt was a camper in the 1930s and came back in 1947 as a camp director for the younger and older boys camp. He continued to direct until 1952. When he directed in 1947, some of the leaders of camp included Kenton Horner, Vancil Donahoo, Bob Burkholder, Dayton Rothrock and Charles Rupel.
“Every cabin would compete against each other, and the leaders were in charge of accountability and direction,” said Hanawalt, “and they acted as a father figure to the children.”
During in the ‘50s, there was a problem with getting people to volunteer as counselors for Camp La Verne. Beginning in 1952, an urgent note was sent out to inform people that the camp needed help in this area in order for the program to continue growing throughout the later years. With the help of only a few volunteers, the camp was able to run smoothly.
1960s: Redevelopment after the Fire
The decision as to whether Camp La Verne should abandon its site or rebuild it came into question after a fire on Easter weekend of 1967 destroyed the kitchen, dining hall and the cook’s cabin. The camp decided to keep the program running and redevelop the buildings that were lost as a result of the fire.
“The fire was devastating to me mentally,” said former Jr. High Camp Director and Youth Director Jim Graham. Graham was director of many camps during the 1960s and remembers what had to be done in order to accommodate the campers the summer after the fire.
“I have nothing but admiration for Richard and Linda Hart, who managed everything after the fire,” said Graham.
The meals for the campers were cooked in a location down by the stream, then transported by truck to the lodge.
“The kids planned the meals and helped cook them,” said Elenor Graham.
Clair Hanawalt remembers going up to camp with the Lettermans Club from La Verne College and using the Mess Hall as a gathering place for the group.
“The fire put a set back to the program, especially in the Mess Hall because of the refrigeration,” said Hanawalt.
Since the fire destroyed the kitchen, the camp used an outdoor facility that had a washing tank to clean the dishes.
The damage to the kitchen, dining hall and the cook’s cabin was “a hard loss,” said Jim Graham. “But the fire created a bondship among the people who got together and tried to fix the problem. It was a comradeship to make things better.”
Leaders and staff at Camp La Verne tried to bring campers to life during the winter season following the fire. They wanted to make sure that such a devastation would not occur again.
“Someone speculated that a person set the fire to keep warm because it happened right in the middle of the snow,” said Elenor Graham.
The area where the dining hall was located prior to the fire is currently used as a volleyball court for campers during the summer. The Grahams remember the dining hall as being a beautiful building.
1970s: Fundraiser Starts Tradition for Annual Banquets
Before the 1970s, Camp La Verne was in need of money to continue the support of the camping program. The problem came to a halt when officials of Camp La Verne decided to have an annual banquet to raise money for the program. The first annual banquet was held on Feb. 14, 1970, and a fee of $50 was charged per plate. By the conclusion of the first event, about $9,000 had been raised for Camp La Verne. More than 200 people attended the event to help keep Camp La Verne solvent. The banquet not only helped camp officials continue their program, but it also set a tradition for more banquets to occur.
Banquets provided entertainment, food, testimonials about Camp La Verne and served as a homecoming event. Parents were able to pass down memories of camp to their children while they skimmed through old photographs on display during the program and listened to early camp experiences.
Remembering the 1980s
“May Peace Prevail on Earth” signifies the universal prayer presented on the peace pole at Camp La Verne. Both the pole and its message are reminders for people to visualize and pray for world peace. It was dedicated to the Camp by Joseph Toscano, Charles Toscano, Onawa Mock and Nathan Mock, each a child or step child of Karen Lapp, the Camp’s residential manager in the 1980s. Lapp helped plan the pole dedication at Camp La Verne in 1988.
“I felt ... that having the peace pole at Camp would help all the campers focus on the issues of today and remind everyone who came there to continually be in prayer for peace and to live in peace,” she said.
By having the peace pole on its site, Camp La Verne continues to send a message of peace to other communities. “The prayer sends a message for hope and healing, while it transcends barriers of nationality, race and religion to unite humanity,” said Lapp. More than 100,000 peace poles exist in 160 countries worldwide.
“Knowing that the camp setting is an ideal place to teach and encourage education and non-violence, I felt that was at least a place to start,” said Lapp.
1990s: The Washroom Project
In the early 1980s, Camp La Verne officials contemplated as to whether they should build a new dining hall or provide the Camp with a new restroom facility. It was decided that the Camp should install a new washroom and use the lodge as a dining facility for campers. Lloyd Lapp did the preliminary drawing of the restroom from 1983 to 1984 and worked on the plans and revisions along with engineer Mark Setterland. Building work on the facility started in 1993 and involved volunteer work groups who usually met on the weekends.
“Many different people have helped over the years,” said Rodney Leard “and many are long-time supporters who want to get out and work for a good cause for a day or more.”Leard’s father Marion started the actual restroom construction. Upon his death, son Rodney took the project to its completion. Many thousands of hours were donated by Leard and the many volunteers who worked at his side. Professional contractors from Barton Electric and Bailey Plumbing have helped Camp La Verne in “donating their time, talent and tools to help the project,” said Leard. Volunteers put in full-day’s work, from 7 a.m. to about 10 or 11 p.m., on Saturdays. Some arrived on Friday, while others arrived Saturday morning. “I believe those who have helped on the project are invested in Camp and can look with pride upon the part they played in making the washroom project happen,” said Leard.
The restroom was primarily funded by donations, which have amounted to approximately $80,000. The sinks in the new facility were also donated by Hillcrest Homes in La Verne.
The building crew finished the restroom summer of 1999. Once completed, Camp La Verne has been able to attract more campers and outside groups interested in renting the camp. “The most successful camps have more up-to-date facilities,” said Dr. Harvey Good, former president for the Camp Board.
“I believe some of the potential campers from inside the Camp family have been put off by the pit toilets and the outside showers. Some may be more willing to come to Camp after there is a modern restroom,” said Leard. “Some people don’t like the primitive facility.”
“Some people want to be comfortable and use the newer types of facilities,” said Dr. Good. “I think it will certainly help, especially when it’s cold.”
Camp La Verne officials are planning to leave one of the outside showers and puffer bellies as antique items of the Camp. According to Leard, Jo Ann Dominic best stated her feelings about the outside bathing facilities. She said, “I hope one will be kept and maintained as a novelty and reminder of where Camp has come from. I hope that it will be available for those wishing to bathe under the stars.”