Memories of Camp Gilead 1967-1972

Marilyn (Mehelich) Peck “What I remember …”  An excerpt from the Camp Gilead 60th Anniversary Cookbook

Do you remember the peacocks at Camp Gilead?

Do you remember the peacocks at Camp Gilead?

A myriad of animals were loose inside the camp gates, so you had to be sure to keep the gates closed!  The animals included donkeys, horses, goats, dogs and peacocks.  Sheep and reindeer were in a special pen under Pastor Forrest and Mrs. Johnson’s cabin. Pigs were kept in a pen behind the dining hall and all the kitchen scraps were carried out to them by the KP.  It wasn’t unusual to wake up with a horse standing and looking in the back door of the girls cabins!

Mary Johnson & Marilyn Mehelich getting ready to register campers at Camp Gilead.

Mary Johnson & Marilyn Mehelich getting ready to register campers at Camp Gilead.

One summer, the KP led by Rick Curtis, spray painted all the sheep with big black spots using a stencil.  I don’t know how well those sheep sold at auction at the end of the summer, but they sure looked funny at camp!  All of the dishes used to be heavy “restaurant style” ceramic ware, either plain white or white with a red rim.  A tray full of them was quite heavy to carry up from the kitchen.  I still have and use six cereal bowls given to me when camp switched to plastic ware.

In the 60’s, all of the cooking was from “scratch.”  I don’t even remember seeing a cake made from a mix.  All the food was bought at a regular grocery store and fresh produce was donated from people’s gardens or purchased in Carnation.  The KP peeled potatoes, chopped veggies and fruit, made tray after tray of cookies and did any job they could to help the cooks.  In June, strawberry shortcake was often served.  That meant 6 KP would go to Remlinger’s farm after breakfast and pick enough berries for 150 people.  Then we would start the hike back to camp, lugging the flats between us, looking for Norm Jenison’s brown station wagon to come and pick us up.  (The Johnson’s daughter Jan Jenison and her family would drive up in that station wagon to spend several weeks of “vacation” working at camp).  We then spent the afternoon hulling, cleaning, and slicing the berries!  Now that was fresh shortcake!

The cooks each had their style and specialties.  Erma Sowers wanted nutrition, nutrition, nutrition!  And most of the vegetables ended up in the pig trough.  Her homemade cinnamon rolls were among the best though.

Suzie Torseth would only cook what the kids were guaranteed to eat and she would top the week off with her special Teriyaki banquet.  What a treat!  Rose Reynoldson balanced it all.  She cooked tasty nutritious meals and worked overtime to make daily sweet breads and rolls of some kind.  Mrs. Johnson oversaw all the kitchen work and did a fabulous job of balancing the budget with the needs.  God always supplied!

The junior high campers spent Tuesday through Saturday hiking in the mountains somewhere with our fearless leaders:  Dan Johnson, Bob Martin, Tom Knorr and several other counselors from LABC or WBBC.  On one of these trips we all voted to take more food and carry heavier packs.  We also took a canoe so that we could fish once we reached the destination lake.  A pack horse was piled high with gear, our packs were bulging and poles were latched to the canoe so that 4 people could take turns porting the canoe.  We laughed as we realized the canoe followed the narrow trail while we stumbled through bushes, over logs and rocks along the side of the trail.  We set up a base camp at a lake and daily took hikes out looking for “Honey Lake” which we never found.  We did find a huge rock slide that may have claimed the lake at some time as well as the site of an airplane crash.  It was quite rugged terrain.

My best memory though is playing box hockey with Pastor Johnson in the orchard and talking about the Lord.  I had never heard the gospel before.  I came to camp because of a photo ad in the paper of George the mule inviting kids to a week of fun on a farm.  Every CG Victory Circle Signnight, Pastor J would speak at campfire in Victory Circle explaining the gospel.  I was compelled by the love of Christ for me and His Sovereign grace that reached out to redeem my soul for His glory.  I am forever grateful for the sacrifices made by all those who made Camp Gilead a place to share and live out the love of God in Christ.


Marilyn (Mehelich) Peck