“In the summer of 1941 much of the world was at war. A bottle of Coca-Cola cost five cents, gas was eleven cents a gallon, and the minimum wage was thirty cents an hour. Marvel Comics would introduce a new superhero that year named ‘Captain America’ while Time Magazine would select Winston Churchill as their man of the year. In the remote Cascade mountains, somewhat removed from the mounting pressures of the day, the sound of handsaws and hammers could be heard. A group of local pioneers were engaged in the work of framing what would soon be the first building at Camp Clear Lake – the Dining Hall.”
This paragraph was penned by Collin Curfman as part of the introduction to Clear Lake Grace Brethren Camp 1941–2016, a book that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the camp. Located in White Pass, Wash., Clear Lake serves the Pacific Northwest District of the Charis Fellowship. This summer marked their 80th anniversary.
The roots of the camp date back to the late 1930s when Earl Reed, pastor at Grace Brethren Church in Sunnyside, Wash., took groups of young people camping at various campgrounds around the northwest region. In 1940 Earl learned of potential land for a permanent camp within Wenatchee National Forest along Clear Lake. Together with the other two churches in the district, located in Spokane and Harrah, a special use permit was filed and the Northwest Brethren Camp Association was formed.
Collin spent many summers at Camp Clear Lake as both a camper and counselor before serving as the camp director. Today he serves as the chairman of the Pacific Northwest District Youth Council and is on staff at Grace Brethren Church in Sunnyside, Wash. Growing up in one of the founding churches of the camp, Collin was no stranger to the history of the camp. He frequently heard stories of the camp from the 1940s and 1950s of snowball fights, late-night hikes, and bears stealing camp food. In 2008 he decided to compile a record of oral stories and photographs from the early years. By 2014 the history of the camp had come alive for Collin and he knew he had to share it with others. The collection of his research was published in 2016 to mark the 75th year of Camp Clear Lake.
Below are excerpts from Clear Lake Grace Brethren Camp 1941–2016.
“As I think back, I try to recall, even now all the young people in the lake at one time or another, are either pastors or missionaries. Or the girls are pastors’ wives and men are good layman or leaders and our boys work in the churches all over the world. It does my little old heart good just to remember all those boys and girls at camp.” —William H. Shaffer (1985), former Northwest District pastor
“The Northwestern Brethren Camp Ass’n has been busy preparing Clear Lake Camp in the Snoqualmie National Forest for their young people’s camps in July. The government has granted them a permanent permit for this beautiful site in pine and fir timber, where there is ice cold spring water, and an excellent facilities for boating, fishing, hiking, and many other attractions. Improvements have been made on the camp, which was first opened last year.” Brethren Missionary Herald, June 27, 1942