In 1945 Raymond Campbell, at the age of 36, had a vision to begin summer Bible camps. After visiting several evangelical camp facilities, he was offered the opportunity to rent the facility which the American Sunday School Union had developed near Amherst, Wisconsin, known as Riverside Bible Conference.
With Prayer, encouragement, resistance to opposition, and team effort, Gustav Weise, Elmo Hadley, Walter Weise, along with Ray Campbell organized the first Riverside Youth Bible Camp which was held July 1-15, 1946. Sixty campers with 20 staff enjoyed the theme, “Living for Jesus who Died for Me.”
For 27 consecutive years, summer Bible Camps were conducted, expanding to three separate one-week sessions with a total of almost 200 Campers.
During all these years, Elfrieda Campbell supervised the cooking with the happy assistance of many. There were many others who greatly supported and assisted this camp work, including:
Maurice Muller, Louis & Alice Crook, Irma Brechler, Ervin Wurz, Beston and May Simmons, members of the Hadley and Campbell Families, Ken and Peggy Chagnon, Don Kersemeier, Eugene Vedder, Jr., Ron & Carol Ann Felten, Al & Dorothy Miller, Otto & Elisabeth Kaiser, and many many others.
Since this was the beginning of Bible Camps for North American assemblies, some were encouraged from their experiences here to begin youth outreach programs, to start new Bible Camps, and to engage in full-time service for the Lord. Other vivid highlights of those years include: Rock of Ages, baptism in the Tomorrow River, outdoor toilets, pumping water, street meetings in Wauapaca, campfire testimonials, Kurt Kaiser playing the piano, clean-up duties, tract distribution on Sunday afternoon, the rattling of the wooden bridge when mail delivery came, treasure hunts, meeting friends, meeting that special friend, missionary meetings, volleyball, swimming separately in the river, camp themes such as “Running the Race of Faith,” and “Yield Yourselves Unto God,” and saying Good-bye while singing “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again”!
Riverside was a somewhat rustic facility. Over the years some improvements were made, especially the building of a girls’ dorm with donations from many assemblies and individuals. As the camp population increased, the need for additional weeks of rental at this facility could not be accommodated. In 1970 some of those working at Riverside shared their exercise and vision to find a piece of property and begin building our own Bible Camp in the Midwest. The rest is history – and now you know the rest of the LWBC story.