Adapted from a letter to Tabernacle Baptist,
from Pastor Forrest Johnson, Christmas 1958
The dining hall was one of the first buildings constructed when Forrest Johnson and his crew arrived at the Snoqualmie River property in Carnation. It was a beautiful building with a lower kitchen area and upper dining room. It wasn’t long, however, before tragedy struck.
“At 5:00 AM Saturday morning November 28, 1958, the dining hall was discovered on fire. The people renting the camp that weekend tried valiantly to fight it, but discovered the fire had reached the walls and rafters and theirs was a losing battle. They proceeded to empty the kitchen of utensils until smoke forced them out. The Carnation Volunteer Fire Department was summoned and to their credit, they came with great dispatch and soon were pumping water to their pumper and then on the building that was now completely gutted. However, their haste and efficiency is the only reason that our kitchen is practically intact.
Halting the fire when they did prevented the floor of the dining hall from collapsing into the kitchen below. Had this happened, all of our equipment, not removed, would have been lost. So, in spite of our building being a total loss, we thank God that we did not lose barely a dollar’s worth of equipment, except the tables in the dining hall. Fire is a sickening experience. Some of us look on the buildings at camp with almost as much devotion and interest as a home. The dining hall was erected with great economy and yet with wonderful efficiency and beauty. Volunteer labor did it all.” – Pastor Forrest Johnson, Tabernacle Baptist Church
The Christmas offerings that year were collected for the dining hall reconstruction project, totaling $2,956! The new dining hall was built on the existing foundation and still stands today.
As campers walk into the kitchen, through the serving line, and up the stairs to their table, they don’t give a thought to the many hands that labored to build the dining hall, prepare and serve the meals, or clean up afterwards.
Can you imagine the sheer amount of food that has been prepared in the Camp Gilead Dining Hall? From biscuits & gravy to BBQ Ribs, Taco Salad & Mac n Cheese, countless pots of oatmeal, thousands of breakfast bars, delectable desserts & cookies and probably enough pitchers of “camp punch” to fill the swimming pool!
The ministry of the camp kitchen staff is a vital and important one. We know that without good cooks and a great kitchen staff, camp would not go on!