Aroostook Pentecostal Church Fellowship presents...
A BRIEF EARLY HISTORY OF WHITED BIBLE CAMP
By: Rev. Charles D. Flewelling Sr. 2.21.2013
The Home Missions Fellowship was, and maybe still is, comprised of cooperating independent Pentecostal churches in Northern Maine, mostly in Aroostook County. A monthly fellowship rally was held at various churches with an afternoon service, dinner served by the host church followed by a brief minister’s business meeting, then the evening service. Having just accepted the pastorate of the Full Gospel Church in Mars Hill, I attended one of these Home Missions Rallies held in the Allagash in early spring of 1962. There I learned that the Home Missions Fellowship also sponsored a youth camp each summer at the Bridgewater Pentecostal campground. It was announced that the camp would not be held that summer since the director; Rev. Bob Brown from central Maine had resigned and there was no one to take his place. After listening to the discussion, I was prompted to blurt out, “If no one else will do it, I will but with one condition.” You see, up to this point the camp ran for two weeks. One week for boys eight to eighteen and the next week for girls in the same age grouping. My condition was that I would be allowed to have boys and girls together and divide the camps by age groups – Youth Camp – ages eight through twelve and Teen Camp – ages thirteen through eighteen. There was resistance to the idea at first but I assured them that there would be strict supervision. I also reasoned that if we believe that we should not be unequally yoked together in marriage, then what better place for our youth to meet and get acquainted. Eventually everyone agreed and I became camp director with no idea what I was getting in to. But things came together almost miraculously. There was, and still is, a “motel” type building with beds on the campgrounds, which we used for the girl’s dorm. We adapted the prayer room in the tabernacle for the boy’s dorm. We put the benches in long rows facing each other, then bed springs and mattresses between them for beds. Someone in Connecticut gave us a contact where we could buy reject silverware direct from a manufacturer at a fantastic price. We also bought metal military type food serving trays and mattresses at an army surplus store in Caribou. A wholesale grocery and candy outlet gave us provisions on credit since we had limited operating funds, until camp opened. Then there was the organization. We designed brochures, application forms, registration forms, camp rules, daily schedules etc. We appealed to pastors and their wives, Bible school students, and volunteers from the sponsoring churches for teachers, counselors, and staffing. We opened with everything in place and had the honor of having Rev. David Crabtree as our guest speaker both this first and second year. Ruth Mitchell from Smyrna Mills was our cook and did an outstanding job. She was followed by Ida Ricker from Littleton. There were wonderful lady volunteers from nearby churches, especially Mars Hill, who helped in the kitchen and dining room for whom we will ever be thankful. The months between camps, in addition to my pastoral duties, were spent visiting churches including those in central and southern Maine. The purpose was to acquaint them with our camp program and to raise funds for additional facilities. Early spring the next year we broke ground for two new buildings totally paid for from camp funds. A long one room boy’s dorm which was later divided into four rooms, and a boy’s wash room with showers and toilets. My Dad and Mom, Charlie and Ida Flewelling, were home from South Africa on furlough and Dad helped Lyman Rossignol and others get the building done in time for camp that summer. It is fitting to note that Lyman Rossignol was greatly involved in developing the campground in its infancy. He harvested trees from the campground, ran the saw mill and did much of the tabernacle construction. Rev. Jim Gray who pastored the Pentecostal Church in Patten ME, now retired and living in Danforth ME, should also be mentioned. Through his construction company he either donated material and labor or provided it at reduced cost. Incidentally, we should also mention that we had phone service installed at the campground for the first time. It soon became apparent that as camp director, I was also director of the youth program for the entire fellowship. This too had to be organized. I asked for six youth leaders from sponsoring churches to serve as an advisory committee and they were very helpful. Linda Clark from Caribou served as the first secretary/treasurer. At first we only had one youth rally a month but since most of the activity was during the winter and traveling was a problem, we divided into the northern and southern sections and had two rallies a month. We organized a contest with points awarded at each rally. During the Christmas/New Year school break we held a youth convention and awarded a plaque each to the church from the northern and southern section that gained the most points during the year. That church also got to send one camper to camp free the following summer. Attendance grew so rapidly that we had to divide the age groups again. Kid’s Camp ages eight through twelve. Teen Camp ages thirteen through fifteen and Hi Teen Camp ages sixteen through nineteen. We added a new girl’s dorm with bathroom facilities; enlarged the dining hall and added a new kitchen and a small office building. We built a canteen where we sold candy, etc. and it became very popular especially after church on the way to the dorms. We also developed a banking system where campers could deposit their spending money and make withdrawals daily as needed. We developed a swimming area and built a dock and a raft out in the lake. We later tried to develop a swimming area next to the lake but it became known as the “mud hole” and the project was abandoned. To distinguish youth camp from the adult camp, we named it Whitehead Bible Camp but immediately changed it to Whited when we were told that that was the name of the lake. The evening services were open to the public and a good percentage of our income came from offerings in those meetings. We had outstanding speakers such as Charles Crabtree, as mentioned, Bud Chambers from Oklahoma and one highlight was the Keystone Quartet who later became the famous Oak Ridge Boys. Ken McDonald and his wife Agnes, who later became the Pastors of the Washburn Pentecostal Church, were outstanding kids crusade evangelists and we had them for kids’ camp repeatedly. I cannot omit how grateful I am for the help and cooperation of my fellow pastors and their wives. They served as councilors, Bible teachers, handcraft directors, and responded to the call whenever needed. My thanks also to the Rev. Bill Pier family who responded to the need whenever they were home on furlough from the mission field in South America. The highlight of each camp was the selection of the king and queen and their crowning at the banquet on the final night of camp. Nominees were chosen by the councilors and voted on by the campers. In addition to the honor, they were given a scholarship to camp the next year. We were given a gratuity at the end of the camp season and this was usually used to take a vacation and believe me, we needed it and I am sure succeeding directors would agree.I must also mention my deceased wife, Iona, who worked tirelessly wherever needed, and my three children, Chuck, Katey, and Keith who had to spend three weeks each summer at camp even when they were too young to be a camper. I think it is fitting to insert here a little of the history of the Bridgewater Pentecostal Campground. Rev. Donald Bickford, the son of Rev. Harold Bickford had the original vision. At that time the highway did not go by the campground; it went through Robinson, Blaine, and on to Mars Hill and points North. So the property was on a little dirt side road. The project got started after it was presented in a meeting at Zion Bible Institute. Rev. Albert Augut of Taunton Mass. stood up and by divine utterance said, “Go buy the land and I will give you the first $100.00” which in that era was a lot of money. The land was purchased, and with dedicated labor the first tabernacle was built only to be totally destroyed by a severe snow storm. Lay people were very involved and Mavis (Ladner) Towle who is now in her late 80’s and lives in Fort Fairfield, served as Secretary / Treasurer for many years. Those who served on the Camp Ground Committee were: Norris Boyd who lives in Westfield ME; Ken Kingsbury, along with six pastors and six laymen. The organization at the time may seem cumbersome to some but with everyone’s cooperation worked quite well. As mentioned, there was the Camp Ground Committee who were elected annually and were under the supervision of the Camp Director. Anything to do with buildings, improvements, changes of any kind to the campground itself had to be approved by this committee. So in that sense, I was under their supervision. Camp directors over the years were: Rev. Donald Bickford, Rev. Clifford Crabtree, Rev. Bill Wilson, Rev. Ron Libby and Rev. Andy DeRier the current director. Then there was the Home Missions Committee who was directly responsible, as mentioned, for the developing youth department including camp so, I was also answerable to them too. Rev. Marvin Lawrence, who was then the pastor at Smyrna Mills ME. was the chairman for many years and his widow, Geraldine lives in Corinth ME. There have been many changes over the years. A new tabernacle was erected, first with an old fashioned sawdust floor but now with concrete and theater style chairs donated by Zion Temple. A new dining hall, kitchen with canteen facilities, several cottages, new dormitories, and other amenities have been added. Although the lake was first used for swimming, a swimming pool has been constructed.
Because of the increased responsibilities of the Youth and Camp programs, I decided to resign my pastorate at the Full Gospel Church in Mars Hill. Due to circumstances beyond my control I was forced to support myself so I got a job and went to work. Plans were in full swing for camp in the spring 1967 when I got a call to pastor The Church of the Bible in Sioux Falls, SD. I asked the Lord for direction and felt impressed to ask Rev. Archie Reed, the pastor of Houlton Full Gospel Church, to become acting director. I also determined that if he accepted then my going to SD was the right decision. We arranged to go to dinner and when the proposal was presented, he agreed and I made plans to move. I have no record of how long he served or when Rev. David McIntyre became the director but I thank God that the legacy lives on and the longevity of Whited Bible Camps and the testimony of all those who have attended over the years proves that God had, and still has a purpose for Whited Bible Camps.
Photos courtesy of
Rev . Charles Flewelling Sr.