Lake Retreat Baptist
Camp is located near the town of Ravensdale, Washington about 35 miles southeast
of Seattle. It is situated in a beautiful wooded setting away from the
hustle and bustle of metro life. The first time I visited Lake Retreat was in
1947. I sent a 1 cent post card home, to my parents from camp and it was
dated July 2, 1947. The
camp was in its infancy compared to what it is today. I don't remember any
girls there but us boys stayed in a old cabin or bunk house called Noah's
Ark. It was located on the southern end of the road over looking the
lake. I can remember one time some one placed a pan of water on top of the
partially opened door to Noah's ark; although no one got wet as we took it down
but they could have as the person pushed
the door and it also would have served as a burglar alarm. One account says "Noah's Ark was a land-based, flimsy,
leaky, sway-backed structure. To it went the assignment of housing a
collection of junior (and plus) age boys. A few of them were tough-fibered
and generally uninhibited."
Even as a small boy I could sit and enjoy the peacefulness and magnificent view of the lake. The lake was about 1 mile to the other side, from what we perceived. I can remember at one of the camps we had a race to see who could swim across the lake. A few of us tried it and were accompanied by the camp row boats in case some one needed help or a breather. We took our time and most of us finished and were taken back to the camp in the boats. There was a raft or platform built out on the lake a little ways from shore where we could drop a hook and line through the cracks in the deck and catch fish down in the water. We would lay on our stomachs and you could see the fish bite at the hook.
If I can remember right the camp was about a week long. We could earn points or "Camp Stamps" in Sunday School and Daily Vacation Bible School.. If we applied ourselves it didn't cost too much to go to camp.
The first few years at Lake Retreat was not really that structured as far the finer things of camp life because there wasn't fancy facilities as there are now. There wasn't a mess hall built yet and we ate meals cooked in a mess tent at the clearing before you climbed the hill to the road over looking the lake about in the area just in front of the automobile on the left in the picture above. I remember the camp staff was real friendly to us campers and especially the nurse, Miss Harriett Norr, (she was from Temple) who put a bandage on my elbow after falling on some rocks. After Noah's Ark was demolished, in the next year, we slept in large army tents about in the area of the car on the right in the picture. I will never forget the smell of the old greenish brown, canvas army tents, especially when they got warm from the sun. Then the new mess hall was built and the camp was on its way. It was really nice and an improvement but I will always remember the "good ole days" of the mess tent and Noah's Ark. On the back side of the sign that hangs above the entrance way pictured is written, "I AM with you Always." It is a truth that I have carried with me through my life and He has been with me.
In July 19, 1959 Johnson Memorial Lodge was dedicated at Lake Retreat. It was built in remembrance of Dr. Linus Johnson our Pastor at Temple. Temple men, Alex and Carl Anderson did the heavy construction. It was designed by Leonard Anderson, Earl Johnson and Evans Nelson. Nathan Sjolander and Victor Carlson did the beautiful brick word on both fireplaces, which are of generous proportion.
Peek Into The Past in the Beginnings of Lake Retreat
from page 225 of Gordon Carlson's book "Seventy-Five Years"
Lake Retreat has
been a trysting place, and a rally point for the men of Columbia ever since that
Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1946 when they with lusty abandon tossed
thousand dollar bills into the pool that went to pay for the patch of real
estate the Conference was buying on the lake.
As written in "Seventy-Five Years" it says, we have recounted in the Women's Chapter how the ladies helped Family camp out of the slump. The next thing was to get the men to make "Three Great Days" a glorious lode stone and a magnet. It took more time, but in 1956, it caught on. "Cooking out" was a fad among men and salmon bakes were most popular. Why not have a behemoth salmon bake at Lake Retreat at the Men's Day banquet Saturday night? Get some leviathan salmon--they run in the Sound--have them photographed and pun into the "Call" (The Conference Call) for a lure--a king salmon to catch the men.
But who is going out to catch that "leviathan"? LeRoy Johnson came up with an idea. He had a picture of two oversized salmon. It was a hoax--but helpful. He got a picture of Herb Ottoson in a chef's regalia and fitted the two pictures together (not with intent to deceive but to amuse and attract). The result was quite astounding.
It was no small job to bake salmon for 300 men. It was done right in front of the dining room. A fire had been going a long time to produce a thick bed of glowing coals. A rusty old bed spring was fixed above the coals upon which were laid the very properly shrouded salmon. Quick and Stearns, assistants to Herb, kept an alert eye and sensitive nose on the fish.
Excellent! excellent! was the response of the three hundred gourmets. There were not twelve baskets left--but enough leftovers for a midnight snack, and Lake Retreat was going great guns again.
Since construction of the Johnson Lodge there have been two additional Lodges and other structures built. These include the Lundgren Lodge, the Okerson Lodge, small cabins, a Guest House and Meeting Rooms.
Read the program for the 40th Anniversary Celebration at Lake Retreat, plus a letter from Evelyn Smith to Mr. and Mrs. Mandy Strandberg.
The following is a copy of an e-mail received
from Greg Plett after inquiring about the history of Lake Retreat.
The Lake Retreat Story
Lake Retreat is a Christ-centered camping ministry operated by the Columbia
Baptist Conference of the General Baptist Church. The history of Lake
Retreat Camp and Conference Center is a story of God's provision, blessing
and divine timing. Ten years before the current site was purchased, God
placed a vision in the hearts of the Columbia Baptist Conference (CBC)
leadership. They knew that Christian camping was a dynamic means of reaching
people with the good news of Jesus Christ. Their vision was for the CBC to
provide this life-changing ministry within the Pacific Northwest.
Without fully realizing the potential of their dream, this group of
dedicated men and women launched into a venture than God has abundantly
With the importance of the camping ministry in the forefront of their minds,
these men and women spent years seeking and praying for the site God had
chosen. The search for a camp site continued through World War II until May
25, 1946 when twelve members of the conference board toured the "Old
Raymer's Resort" on Lake Retreat. Finally, after ten years of waiting, God
turned a vision into reality... this was the place. The property included
900 feet of lake front, ten cottages, a two-story lodge (Bethany Lodge) and
a few other buildings. The years of waiting were over: the board voted
unanimously to purchase the 25 acre property for $25,000. The Lake Retreat
Baptist Camping ministry was born.
God further demonstrated His provision by using the aftermath of World War
II to supply needed inventory. The War Assets Administration gave Lake
Retreat an excellent deal on beds, mattresses, utensils, stoves, tents, and
tables. In August of 1946, less than 90 days after purchasing the land, Lake
Retreat hosted it's first summer camp. All three hundred and fifty boys and
girls attending the Young People's Bible Conference had a roof over their
head (although many roofs were canvas), a bed, and a place to eat.
Over the years the vision and ministry has grown. Support from people and
churches in the CBC has made possible the purchase of additional acreage and
the construction of several important buildings. With expanded facilities
and improved programs the effectiveness of the ministry increased.
From it's humble beginnings as the site for a once-a-year summer Bible
Conference, Lake Retreat has grown into a beautiful year-round Christian
camp and conference center where men, women and children are led to Jesus as
their personal Lord and Savior. There is no doubt that God has used this
camping ministry to accomplish His purpose in thousands of lives.
Lake Retreat Camp and Conference Center
27850 Retreat-Kanaskat Road SE
Ravensdale, Washington 98051
"Unless you become as children" and love Me as they do,
You cannot enter My Kingdom. For the door is closed to you...
For faith is the key to heaven and only God's children hold the key that opens the gateway to that beautiful City of Gold....
For only a child yet unblemished by the doctrines and theories of man is content to Trust and Love Jesus without understanding His Plan. Helen Steiner Rice
"And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:2,3