An Adventure in Change

“Over a period of about 7 years I visited Nils Nystrom nearly 40 times,” explains Roger Minthorne in his recently-compiled history booklet, Twin Rocks Friends Camp: An Adventure in Change. In it, Roger chronicles the inspiring, decades-long journey he spent acquiring land for the camp and updating its physical plant. His relationship with Mr. Nystrom provides just one example of Roger’s persistence, friendship, and creativity, and the tremendous impact such traits can have upon the life of a ministry.

“One day, in 1982, after his wife died, I visited Mr. Nystrom as he worked to repair a boat and he told me he had changed his mind and would sell us the land we wanted. I asked him why he had changed his mind. He said, ‘In one of the last conversations I had with my wife before she died she made me promise to sell the property to the camp.’ He sold us about 12 ½ acres, all we could afford at the time. When Nils Nystrom became an old man he retired to a small nursing home between Portland and Gresham. I visited him there several times a year. Once when I was with him he told me that I was his best friend (a personal joy for me since we had quarreled for many years.) Roger’s interesting history recollects the hard work and determination that went into the acreby-acre expansion of Twin Rocks Friends Camp and Harbor Villa Retreat Center over its 94 year history, coordinated largely by Minthorne. Roger relates that up until 1960, “Our camp area measured 350’x350’ (2.7 acres), acquired in 1921. The eastern edge was just behind the present Shorebird cabins, our northern border was about 20’ north of Hadley Hall, and the southern property line was a foot from the 1947 dining hall (now covered by the expanded dining and wash rooms). The Boy Scout Handbook said the rule of thumb was “one acre per camper.” I asked the board why they didn’t purchase more property and was told the beach was available for miles, and there was nothing to keep us off the mountain east of camp—and of course, they had no money. They told me that if I wanted to work on the problem it would be okay. I made that an exciting part-time adventure for the next 40 years.”

Those 40 years brought many wonderful physical changes to the Twin Rocks Friends Camp landscape, birthed mostly from Roger’s creative mind, gifted negotiation skills, and above all, perseverance.

“It seemed imperative that the camp acquire more property. Publisher’s Paper Co., a subsidiary of the Los Angeles Times Mirror newspaper in California, owned most of the land east and south of the camp. In 1969 I drove to the Publisher Paper plant in Oregon City, finally identified the right place, the right parking lot, the right building, the right office, and the right person in charge—the Chief Forester. He explained that they were a billion-dollar corporation and needed trees for their newspaper, and that if they sold land to everyone who wanted it they would be out of business. He said they needed the land and the trees, not our money, and they would not sell any property to us under any circumstances.”

“The next year I went back to see the Chief Forester again. Same story. In 1971 I was there again, as was the case in 1972, and we had the same conversation. In 1973 he said the same thing—BUT we were beginning to develop a friendship. In the spring of 1974, as I was registering my daughter as a freshman at George Fox College, who should we meet but the Chief Forester, also registering his daughter to be a student there! We had been friends for five years by now and I pointed out that he was not behind his desk, had a day on his own, that we were Christian men with Christian daughters, registering at a Christian college. I asked how I might buy that land for the camp. He said that they might trade with us if I could get suitable timberland contiguous to Publisher’s existing property somewhere.”

“Starting in Astoria, Mildred and I stopped at every real estate office from the Columbia River to Waldport. I left a card with each one, explaining what I was looking for. It took us two days. A year went by with no response. I returned to Oregon City and told the Chief Forester the problem. I suggested, ‘If somebody dies and leaves his land and trees to his children, and they don’t want it, and offer to sell it to Publishers, and you decide to buy it, will you first offer it to the camp—and we will then buy it and trade to you in exchange for property surrounding our camp?’”

“He consented and one Thursday (in 1975) soon thereafter called me. ‘Roger, we have been offered 82 acres near Waldport which we would like to buy. If you can be in Waldport next Tuesday at ten in the morning at the lawyer’s office with $82,000, and buy that parcel, we will exchange it with you for 82 acres surrounding your camp.’”

“Charlotte Macy and I were there at 10:00. The seller was Jack Stocker, a great guy, and he consented to carry a $60,000 contract, payable at $1,000/month for five years, and I paid him $22,000 down payment. The board launched a Capital Campaign and we paid off the contract in just under four years. That purchase gave us the 40 acres at the top of Charlotte’s Mountain plus land bordered by the Hatch property on the west and the logging road to the south, plus the eight
acres on which we later built more Cabins of the Trees and the Pacific Woods Lodge. We also acquired a triangle of land south of the logging road adjacent to the rock quarry, as yet to be developed.” Twin Rocks Friends Camp: An Adventure in Change chronicles many other incidents of God’s timing and intervention in the expansion of Twin Rocks, including the funding and construction of Friendship Center, the Shelter, and the history of the Harbor Villa
Retreat Center.

Twin Rocks is indebted to Roger for using his visionary gifts and ingenuity on behalf of Twin Rocks Friends Camp over the years.
Roger has also been instrumental in the programming and administrative sides of the camp, having served as Boys Camp Director from 1951 to 1976, and on the Twin Rocks Board of Directors for more than 60 years.

If you would like a complimentary copy of Twin Rocks Friends Camp: An Adventure in Change please contact the camp at (503)355-2284 or email [email protected].

A Warm Welcome

Construction is currently underway on a Welcome Center for Twin Rocks Friends Camp, setting the stage for some terrific scenes at Twin Rocks this next year:

■…A father and son enjoying a quiet game of chess during an all-church retreat.
■…A husband and wife chatting thoughtfully by a gas fireplace during their couples conference on a blustery Saturday afternoon.
■…Middle school youth sitting outside on a porch, sipping smoothies and playing cards on a sunny, summer day.
■…A group of women grabbing lattes en route to their conference’s morning session.
■…A cabin group of boys roasting marshmallows and celebrating a successful game of “Night Owls” around a fire pit with their counselor.
■…An early-rising college student taking a few moments to journal and read Scripture before heading off to attend her morning counselor meeting.
■…Noisy clusters of high school students gathering energetically around tables, enjoying late-night “hang time” before shuffling off to cabins and lights out.

These will soon be common sights in and around the Welcome Center, thanks to its purposeful space set aside for relationship-building and personal reflection. This logstyle structure will house the camp’s guest services staff team, Undertow Espresso coffee shop, and comfortable indoor/outdoor café-style seating areas. Located in the former home of Executive Director Ken Beebe and his family, the Welcome Center will sit just past the camp’s front entry kiosk, providing arriving visitors and campers with a warm reception to Twin Rocks. The back porch and expansive patio will spill onto the “greenway” and thus provide easy Welcome Center access to campers already on site.

Construction on the Welcome Center is currently in full swing and is slated for completion by June 2013 (pending final funding).

The Final 40K

Twin Rocks is just $40,000 shy of meeting its $1+ million Greenway & Parkway capital campaign goal. This fundraising effort,
targeted for 2010-2014, has already funded a new roadway around the perimeter of camp and camper-safe green spaces within Twin Rocks’ central core. Tying the project together will be a Welcome Center near the camp’s entrance (see accompanying article).

Twin Rocks is seeking $40,000 in yearend 2012 gifts and pledges. Once  secured, this final $40,000 will qualify the camp for $100,000 in “top off”  funds from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and enable Twin Rocks to complete the Welcome Center’s construction.

The $1,050,000 4-year campaign goal is the largest in the camp’s history, so it has been immensely satisfying for the camp to see its target nearly met, especially during a major economic recession.

Perimeter Roadway…………………$663,000 Construction 100% Complete
Greenway & Sidewalks………………$85,000 Construction 95% Complete
Two Cabins of the Trees
Remodeled ………………………………$46,000 Construction 55% Complete
Welcome Center…………………….$193,000 Construction 30% Complete
Fundraising & Interest ……………….$63,000
TOTAL CAMPAIGN …………….$1,050,000
RAISED TO DATE ……………….$1,010,000

* Astute followers of Twin Rocks will notice a small change here compared to the Greenway & Parkway campaign’s May 2010 list of construction projects. Actual fundraising has exceeded initial goals, but so have construction expenses. Therefore, some $55,000 in smaller  construction projects have been removed from the list and will be delayed until an upcoming 2014 capital campaign.

“Buy A Brick” Patio Celebration in May

An official unveiling of a new “Buy A Brick” patio attached to the Welcome Center will take place in May 2013, near the time the Welcome Center officially opens. Families who have  donated bricks will be invited to the camp for a special Grand Opening event. More than 180 personalized, engraved bricks have already been contributed by f riends of Twin Rocks for gifts of $200 apiece. Families have enjoyed the process of choosing  next for their brick’s engraving.

There is still time to Buy a Brick. Bricks ordered by Monday, January 7, 2013 will be included in the patio and help fund the Welcome Center’s construction. (For  details, call the camp or click on the “Buy A Brick” logo at the top of the Twin Rocks website:

What’s Next?

Twin Rocks is already looking ahead to 2014 and beyond, setting a course for its next stage of construction projects. The Long-Range Master Plan introduced in 2006 set in motion a substantial reconfiguration of the camp’s grounds, culminating in the Greenway & Parkway accomplishments of recent years. In 2014, Twin Rocks will embark upon other components of the Master Plan, but exact elements have yet to be finalized. First priority will be to keep existing facilities in top condition, with the goal of further sprucing up the camp in anticipation of Twin Rocks’ centennial in 2018. Your ideas are welcome! They can be emailed to: [email protected] under the subject line “Twin Rocks Next Steps.” Thanks!

At the Cross

At Girls Camp in early July, campers were given a chance by main speaker Elizabeth Sherwood to respond to the prompt “What I Want to Tell Jesus” by writing their thoughts on paper and attaching them to a large cross. Here are some of the girls’ notes to Jesus:

■ Thank you for anamazing fun, awesome week at camp. I wished it had not rained on beach day cause that would have been more fun.
■ Jesus thank you. Thank you for everything. You are my everything. I’m sorry for all my sins. I want to hug you really. I will praise you my whole entire life. I wish you could tell me how to help my friend. I love you! Lovelovelove. P.S. See you in heaven!
■ Jesus, will you accept me in your life? I want to learn more about you. I want to become a Christian. Thank you for this week and my new friends. Thank you for everything. Amen
■ Thank you for camp out.
■ Thank you for always being there for me. And even though my family has had lots of trouble we all are happy and please let it stay that way and make it so we will be very forgiving to each other…. I Love you.
■ I commit my life to YOU.
■ Jesus, I thank you for beach day and for everything you have done at camp this week. Thank you, JESUS!
■ Thank you for giving the ability to go to heaven.
■ Jesus I thank you for coming into my life when I was 8 but ever since I came to this camp I feel so much closer to you.
■ Dear Jesus thank you for Girls Camp!
■ Jesus, I want to thank you. I just want to thank you for everything.
■ I am going to commit my life to God and Jesus. I will trust you.
■ Jesus thank you for letting me have a wonderful life and helping me when I’m sad. And giving me a wonderful family – and all the good stuff in my life. Thank you! Thank you!
■ Yes, I love you Jesus.
■ I love you Lord and I DO want you in my life forever!
■ Thank you for a beautiful fun week at Girls Camp. I had a lot of fun. Twin Rocks is a lot of fun.
■ Dear Jesus, I would really like you to put me on your path. The right path.
■ Dear Jesus, I want to learn more about you.
■ I don’t know what to say, but I love you Jesus!
■ Thank you for letting me come to this camp to learn more about you and make new friends.

Changes at Harbor Villa Retreat Center

September welcomed new Harbor Villa caretakers Kevin and Laura (Minthorne) Brown. The Browns, recent college graduates, are a first for Harbor Villa, which has historically engaged a retired couple as caretakers. Laura has enjoyed a lifelong love of the camp, so when she heard about the caretaker opening, she and Kevin knew they wanted to live and serve at Twin Rocks. The Browns come to the camp from Newberg, Oregon where Laura worked in insurance and Kevin at a nearby resort and spa.

Laura has happily undertaken her new role of caretaker and head housekeeper by doing mounds of laundry, managing the housekeeping crew, and welcoming and invoicing guest groups. Kevin spends most of his weekdays working at a local bank, but eagerly steps into his caretaker role when he comes home and on weekends, and, in his own words, is “enjoying every minute of it!”

When not buried in laundry, Laura likes to ride her horse, Amirah, boarded nearby in Tillamook. Kevin is a movie buff and enjoys photography, a skill that comes in handy with the beautiful Pacific sunsets out his front door. Twin Rocks is blessed to have the Browns as the new “heart” of Harbor Villa.

The Browns replace Gene and Phyllis Morse, who served as caretakers of the retreat center for two years, cheerfully greeting guests, tending the grounds, and overseeing housekeeping. Gene and Phyllis were wonderful additions to the Twin Rocks community, enthusiastically contributing their sunny personalities and generous hearts to the life and ministry of the camp. The Morses have settled nicely into their new home at Spaulding Oaks in Newberg, Oregon.

Twin Rocks Legend Marjorie Simmons Dies

The sole known surviving attendee of Twin Rocks’ very first camp in 1918 died this October at the age of 99. Born in Newberg on March 9, 1913, Marjorie Simmons came as a 5 year old to that August 1918 conference, making her one of the youngest of approximately 65 campers in attendance.

That year Marjorie experienced one of her first car rides as she and her family travelled to the camp in her grandmother’s Overland, “a car,” she recalled in a 2009 interview, “with side curtains instead of glass for windows.” Twin Rocks was truly a “camp” in those days. Marjorie recalled her parents pitching a canvas tent with a pole up the middle, and a cross-piece to hang an old fashioned lantern. “I thought the camping business was so exciting because I had never been camping before.” Her grandmother filled “straw ticks,” a “sacklike thing made out of striped ticking, filled with straw.”

But in many ways, Marjorie’s camp experience was much the same as today’s campers’. She had vivid memories of a big bonfire at the beach. “I remember singing campfire-type songs. Then there was a talent show—everyone gave a song or a poem.” And after the talent show, “people began singing hymns and giving testimonies and they had a Bible study” before retiring across the road to tents—or for those without, under the trees. More than anyone else, Marjorie saw the camp grow and the facilities improve over the years since that first childhood visit. Marjorie held a bachelor’s degree with a teaching certificate from Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

She worked at Boeing during World War II, was a schoolteacher, taught piano, built houses in Eugene and was a finish carpenter and painter. She left two sons, Ken Simmons of Eugene and Larry Simmons of Lowell; a daughter, Karessa Barnett of Junction City; sister Irene Sieloff of Crescent City, Florida; 12 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and six great-great-grandchildren. Marjorie was a member of Eugene Friends Church where a memorial service was held in her honor on October 29, 2012.

You Should Know…

■ Next September will mark the 40th anniversary of Adult Fellowship Camp in what is slated to be its final gathering. In 1973, a group of “empty nest” adults inaugurated this weekend camp to target the specific needs of middle age adults and alleviate overcrowding at Family Camp. Over the decades, Adult Fellowship Camp has thrived with in depth teaching, first-class concerts, “hymn sings,” and meaningful fellowship. As its participation gradually shifted toward older retirees, attendance slowly declined, ultimately necessitating an upcoming 2013 concluding camp session. Make plans now to attend next year’s special 40th anniversary celebration the weekend of September 13-16, 2013!
■ More than 200 people from 50 families attended Twin Rocks’ first-ever Outdoor School for Homeschool Families in September. Under the direction of Joel Thomas and in cooperation with First Class Homeschool Ministries, this week spent studying God’s creation received accolades from all involved. Renowned camp expert and Twin Rocks board member Gary Fawver (who taught a class during the week), stated shortly afterward: My life has been spent leading, participating in, and visiting camps and camp programs. I don’t think I’ve ever watched more goals of Christian camping come together in one camp program as I did last week. In hopes of building upon this success, Twin Rocks is planning two such homeschool outdoor school sessions in the Fall of 2013.
■ Conrad Schmeltzer recently completed a 28-year service on the Twin Rocks board of directors. A machinist by trade, Conrad provided the camp with insightful “buildings and grounds” expertise. One enduring contribution was his consistent encouragement to extend the life of Twin Rocks facilities by utilizing stainless steel nuts, bolts, and brackets, thereby reducing rust in the harsh salt-air environment of the Oregon Coast. Conrad and his wife, Jan, recently contributed $10,000 to Twin Rocks to establish a camp scholarship endowment fund. In his words, “More decisions are made for Christ at camp than anyplace else, and that’s the bottom line.”
■ A series of personal spiritual retreats known as Sabbath by the Sea are slated for January. This immensely popular program, directed by Steve Fawver (Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Newberg Friends Church), enables individuals to begin the year right – prayerfully seeking God’s guidance, healing, and love. Full-week and half-week retreat options are available for this program housed in Twin Rocks’ cluster of beachfront facilities known as Harbor Villa Retreat Center. For details, visit the Sabbath by the Sea website, at
■ Twin Rocks relies heavily upon the kindness and diligence of volunteers to oversee its summer camp programs. Each summer week is coordinated by a separate camp director and accompanying committee who plan throughout the year for the success of that single week of summer camp. Two of these camp directors are “retiring” from their positions after several seasons of exceptional, accomplished service: Girls Camp director Michelle Akins (six years) and Tween Camp’s Leslie Murray (nine years). These leaders will be replaced by Fairlight Ankeny (Girls Camp) and Christy Crisman and Jon Maroni (co-directing Tween Camp).
■ As part of its ongoing commitment to leadership development, Twin Rocks is enjoying exceptional 2012-2013 interns (pictured left-to-right): Jennifer Dalziel, Trevor Douty, Samantha Thorson, Jay Miller, and Katey Astleford. The internship program is enhanced through expertise and funding provided by the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
■ Through a partnership with an independent third party, Twin Rocks offers complimentary, no obligation assistance to families seeking estate planning advice. For details, please contact Dave Hampton (503-355-2284 or [email protected]).
■ From time to time, Twin Rocks presents a Wish List seeking specific donations. Right now the camp could use a wide variety of items:
• Commercial gas convection oven
• Heavy duty vacuum cleaners in good condition
• Unopened craft supplies (paints, crayons, markers, etc.)
• Basketballs and volleyballs in good condition
• Gas golf cart
• Mid-summer week in a large beach house for a Summer Staff retreat
• Portable man-lift
■ Twin Rocks is currently seeking applicants to participate in its two summer leadership programs: 11-week Summer Staff program for college-age individuals; and 5-week Servant Leadership Program for high school students. For details and application information, please visit:
2013 Key Camp Dates:
• Sabbath by the Sea – (multiple sessions) December 31, 2012 – January 31, 2013
• Junior High Jamboree – February 15-18, 2013
• Day Camp (for 1st-5th graders) – July 29 – August 2, 2013
• Girls Camp (for 4th-6th graders) – June 30 – July 5, 2013
• Boys Camp (for 4th-6th graders) – July 14-19, 2013
• Tween Camp (for 7th-9th graders) – July 7-13, 2013
• Surfside Camp (for senior high) – August 4-10, 2013
• Family Camp (Labor Day weekend) – August 30 – September 2, 2013
• Adult Fellowship Camp – September 13-16, 2013
• Homeschool Outdoor School #1 – September 16-20, 2013
• Homeschool Outdoor School #2 – October 7-11, 2013
• Couples Conference – October 11-13, 2013
• Seminar by the Sea – October 25-27, 2013

■ More than 30 friends of Twin Rocks served on the Volunteer C.A.M.P. Team (Clean, Assist, Minister, and Pray) in 2012, each volunteering 12 hours of behind-the-scenes housekeeping and dish washing tasks over the course of a weekend. The Team’s efforts saved Twin Rocks thousands of dollars and energized the camp community with their kind demeanors and diligent work ethics. (A 2013 C.A.M.P. Team is now being formed. Email [email protected] if you’d like to participate. Thanks!)

From the Director’s Desk

Yesterday a group of high school students at Twin Rocks gathered around a small table and talked about the beauty of God’s creation — and how the Lord’s ingenuity and imagination can be seen in something as common and simple as an onion. Each student was given an onion and a small knife and the chance to examine the onion’s intricacies as he or she “dissected” it. Ultimately, the youth pooled their collective diced onions and produced a large batch of onion soup, which the group then savored together.” These are the day-to-day teachings one expects from a place like Twin Rocks, but yesterday’s onion exploration was unique in that the high school students weren’t campers — they were employees.

One of the little known programs at Twin Rocks is SALT — Servant & Leadership Training. Twin Rocks employs about a dozen high school students who live near the camp, and these young people conduct much of the dish washing and cabin cleaning that occurs year-round at Twin Rocks. Evenings, weekends and holidays these youth can be seen working diligently behind-the-scenes, thereby ensuring wonderful Twin Rocks retreats for out-of-town youth and their families.

But once or twice a month these local youth gather for two-hour SALT meetings and the chance to enjoy camp-like experiences of their own. SALT provides an opportunity for Twin Rocks to invest in the lives of its young employees, providing them with Christian discipleship, leadership development, and even basic job training — all within a fun, relationship-focused, camp environment.

And for me personally, one of the “icing on the cake” joys of SALT is its complete dependence upon another success story – the Twin Rocks Internship program. SALT is directed by young adult interns, so yesterday’s onion analysis was made possible by the inventiveness of intern Jay Miller (with arms-length guidance from Associate Director Joseph Thouvenel). Twin Rocks’ internship program therefore pays a double blessing, developing an impressive slate of both young adult and high school Christian servant leaders.

— Ken Beebe