Camps, Mennonite Church

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Mennonite Church Camps, although common in Protestant church life in America, were introduced rather late among Mennonites in North America. The first (1938) was Men-O-Lan, the camp of the Eastern District Conference, General Conference Mennonite, (GCM) near Finland, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The second GCM camp was Elim Gospel Beach near Swift Current, Saskatchewan, owned and operated by the Mennonite Youth Organization of Saskatchewan (1946). The third and fourth GCM camps were Menoscah (1948) near Murdock, Kansas, and Friedenswald, near Union, Michigan (1950). Later GCM camps were Palisades in Idaho, Pike Lake near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Assiniboine Mission Camp near Springstein, Manitoba, and Swan Lake near Viborg, South Dakota. In the Mennonite Church (MC) camps started somewhat later, but by 1959 a total of twelve camps had been established: Laurelville near Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania, (1944), Little Eden at Onekama, Michigan (1945), Chesley Lake near Allenford, Ontario (1947), Rehoboth near Hopkins Park, illinois, (1949), Tel-Hai near Gap, Pennsylvania, (1950), Rocky Mountain Camp near Colorado Springs, Colorado, (1951), Luz near Orrville, Ohio (1953), Sholom near Kearney, Ontario (1954), Hebron near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1956), Black Rock near Quarryville, Pennsylvania, (1956), Perrin Lakes near Sturgis, Michigan (1958), and Menno-Haven near Tiskilwa, Illinois, (1959).

The Mennonite Brethren camp program is operated by the district conferences. The district program began as follows: Southern 1941, Pacific 1946, Central 1952. Camp facilities are leased from other organizations. In California, Hartland Camp is owned by a Mennonite Brethren – Krimmer Mennonite Brethren laymen's organization. The Canadian provincial conferences also have camp programs. In several areas inter-Mennonite camps have been established, especially for children. Among European Mennonites the Dutch Mennonites alone have developed camps comparable to those in America, and they did so somewhat earlier. Retreat grounds for adults were established by the Gemeentedag Movement at Lunteren (1920), Elspeet (1925), and Schoorl (1932), while the Dutch Peace Group established Fredeshiem (1929). Camps have also been established for boys and girls, the first at Oud-Reemst in 1920, later at Elspeet, Giethoorn, etc. These youth camps are under the General Camp Committee, which is a part of the Commissie voor Doopsgezind Broederschapswerk. In recent years some 15 summer camps for catechumens have been held with ca. 500 participants.

These church camps operate usually only in the summer months, serving as retreat centers for groups of high-school youth, older young people, and adults with varying interests, usually for periods of a week at a time. They combine living in an outdoor environment where wholesome recreation is available with definite spiritual interests. These interests include (1) training in Bible study, missions, church principles and doctrines, (2) help to youth in solving problems confronting young Christians in a secular world, (3) development of personal devotional life, (4) inspirational addresses, (5) evangelism, (6) cultivation of special interests such as church music.


Van der Smissen, Betty. "Mennonite Church Camp Retreats." Mennonite Life X (1955): 123 f.

Author(s) Harold S Bender
Date Published 1959

Cite This Article

MLA style

Bender, Harold S. "Camps, Mennonite Church." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 18 Sep 2021.,_Mennonite_Church&oldid=79514.

APA style

Bender, Harold S. (1959). Camps, Mennonite Church. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 18 September 2021, from,_Mennonite_Church&oldid=79514.


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 1070. All rights reserved.

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