“I was nine when I first attended Boys Camp in 1942,” says Dick Eichenberger. “The Meetinghouse actually had sawdust on the floor, and those were the days when the ‘sawdust trail’ meant responding to the altar call. Those were formative days in my life and literally thousands of people have had similar, lasting spiritual experiences at the camp since then.”
Betty Comfort was one of those thousands, “The summer of my 9th birthday, I wrote in my Bible that I committed my life to Jesus in a new way at Twin Rocks Girls Camp. Lucy Clark was the dynamic speaker that year. Through the following years, I received new inspiration and challenge to live more closely to Him.”
Twin Rocks Friends Camp celebrates its100th birthday in 2018. Over the past century countless campers like Dick and Betty have made Twin Rocks their camp home, many returning year after year to where they first met Jesus and nurtured lifelong friendships. Recently we sat down with several longtime friends of the camp to hear their Twin Rocks stories.
Roger Minthorne remembers his first time at Twin Rocks. It was the spring of 1944 when as a freshman at Pacific College Roger had just accepted Christ at a revival meeting. “They asked all the boys that were staying for the summer school to be counselors at Boys Camp. They had altar calls and we boys, including me, were asked to pray with those young fellows who came forward. So, it was a big spiritual step for me having been a Christian for only a few months and then suddenly praying with boys and helping them find the Lord.”
At not quite 10 years old, Verne Martin was one of the youngest attenders at the very first Boys Camp in 1941. He remembers seeing Roger for the first time at a Boys Camp and later was in Roger’s Sunday school class at Newberg Friends Church.
Verne remembers distinctly hearing the Lord’s call on his life as a teenager at Twin Rocks: “I can sit in the back of the Meetinghouse today and see the exact spot where I accepted Christ and where he told me what he wanted me to do with my life. He very clearly told me to spend my life working with kids.”
Also at that first Boys Camp was Gene Mulkey, who had been invited by Friends pastor, Walter Cook. “Boys Camp is where I accepted the Lord as my personal savior.” He remembers kneeling in front of the fireplace in what is now the Memorial Lounge. “I remember after the service, flying up the stairway to the third floor of Hadley, really exhilarated!”
Alice Maurer’s first memories of Twin Rocks preceded her actual attendance as she listened to her parents’ recollections of their stays. Her father was connected with Rosedale Friends Church and went to one of the first multi-generational conferences in the late 1920s. Her mother told stories of coming out from Scotts ills on the Cammack’s truck, sleeping on the wooden tent platforms after stuffing their “ticks” with straw they had brought, and doing their own cooking. “Before my own personal memories of Twin Rocks I had an impression that Twin Rocks was the special place on the coast.”
Personally, Alice remembers almost every year going to the altar. For her coming to faith was a drawing process. “For many years I had gone forward for things like ‘God, please forgive me for stealing cookies out of the cookie jar.’ But, it wasn’t ‘Take my life.’ That didn’t happen until I was 14. But, every single one of those going forward experiences and being responsive to the Holy Spirit was part of the growing process for me. They were building stones along the way.”
Other important milestones have happened at Twin Rocks. Verne met his wife Ellen at camp. He recalls sitting on the platform in the Meetinghouse helping Betty Brown (Comfort) pick four recreation teams for a round robin softball/volleyball tournament when he saw a girl (Ellen) with beautiful brown eyes walk through the door. “I told Betty, she looks like a good center fielder— let’s get her.” At Girls Camp this past summer, Verne and Ellen (camp grandparents) were given a special candlelit dinner to celebrate their 64th anniversary (along with 100 girls campers!).
Alice and her husband, Nick, got engaged at Twin Rocks. Together they had climbed Charlotte’s Mt. and sat on the stump overlooking the ocean and Twin Rocks. “Nick hadn’t had it in mind, but looking out over the majestic scene of those two rocks that had stood there together against the storms of life, it just kinda popped out. He asked if I would marry him. He remembers me saying, ‘I thought you’d never ask!’”
The camp looked a little different in its early days. Besides the wooden tent platforms, the only other housing was a couple of cabins and Hadley Hall. Unlike today, Hadley’s second and third floors were much more open and rustic. A long trough with spigots stood outside of Hadley for personal hygiene. Outhouses were the mode of the day. Nighttime bathroom needs were taken care of with gallon cans situated in the Hadley alcoves.
Both Dick and Gene remember that during WWII years Hadley Hall’s beach facing windows had to be curtained to avoid visibility by submarines. And because of gas rationing, families weren’t traveling as much; people sent their kids to camp. “Boys Camp was larger in those days,” reflects Roger. “We had two weeks of camp with over 100 boys each, about twice as many as today.”
In the early years campers did their own cooking until the first dining hall was built on stilts over the drop off on the north side of Hadley Hall. Verne remembers eating at long tables with pans of dish and rinse water at the ends for campers to clean their own dishes. “By Wednesday we were all so sick that we threw up over the balcony of Hadley.” Later the Dining Hall was built in its current location. During a college-aged camp she once led, Alice was allowed access to the kitchen to bake a blackberry pie using just-picked camp berries.
Alice remembers conference attendance swelled on the weekends when everyone came over for the Sunday service. Ellen Martin may have been one of those campers: “My grandfather had a cabin in Rockaway Beach, so we spent summers there ever since I can remember. Sometimes my mother and I would walk up to conference at Twin Rocks.” The Meetinghouse (Tabernacle) was not large enough to accommodate everyone for those services. Alice relates how part of the Meetinghouse east wall could go up like garage doors and be secured with stakes in the ground. In this way more could participate and be covered from sun and rain.
Roger’s wife, Mildred, was instrumental in the beginnings of the Shelter gymnasium. As Girls Camp Director, Mildred remembers a particularly miserable year where it rained every day of camp: “The girls were wet all the time.” Upon coming home she went to the library and in a Boy Scouts handbook found a picture of an a-frame structure she knew would make a good indoor play space. She said to Roger, “I want this next year for Girls Camp.” In 1965, the trees for the structure came from the property that ultimately became Camp Tilikum.
Over the years, Twin Rocks grounds and facilities have needed careful and ongoing oversight. Herb Sargent was the camp’s first Facilities Director. His wife Betty Lou remembers the summer their teenaged children worked at camp and helped director Charlotte Macy with repairs by calling on their dad who was miles away in Cherry Grove. After that summer the kids knew Twin Rocks needed Herb full-time. He dismissed the idea at first but Betty Lou remembers four months later when he came into the kitchen one morning and announced, “I think God wants me to go to Twin Rocks.” Herb served at Twin Rocks for many years, the last two as Director.
Like Herb, hundreds of people have felt nudged by the Lord towards Twin Rocks’ ministry. Verne was on the planning committee for the first Tween Camp. “I remember us sitting in the front room of the parsonage at West Chehalem Friends Church. Every person we called to teach or counsel at that first camp said, ‘Yes.’” Gene was instrumental in starting the first Family Camp, ensuring affordability for larger families and creating a structure that is still in place today.
Since that first Boys Camp and after years of attending Twin Rocks Camps, Dick Eichenberger and his wife Kathryn spent fifteen of their retirement years volunteering summers at Twin Rocks. “We were glad to be useful in kingdom work and enjoyed the camaraderie, as well as keeping up with the generations as youngsters came to camp.” Betty Lou felt the Lord’s nudge to pray for campers when she and Herb lived on the grounds: “I would look out my kitchen window at the ocean and I could see the surf and I would pray for the campers that would come as I washed dishes or cooked.”
After ten decades, Twin Rocks continues to be pivotal in the lives of campers, a place where the building blocks of faith and friendship are found and allowed to flourish. Alice reflects on the lifelong friendships that camp helped nurture in her life: “You felt that you were part of something bigger than your local church. You met friends that would ask you spiritual questions. It’s just a special place; it’s part of who I am.” Twin Rocks Camp was formational in Betty’s life, too: “I know that I’m a different person because of the evangelistic emphasis and bonds of friendship that have held strong and meaningful through time…more than 80 years!”
As part of a Bible study, Ellen learned that everyone in her group had met Jesus at Twin Rocks or some other summer camp. Gene recognizes that important decisions happen at camp: “As you grow, you change, experience new challenges, and gain new insights into the way God works in your life.”
Roger reflects on his experience as a new Christian helping to lead Boys campers to Christ that summer of 1944: “(Spiritually for me) it was from nothing, to something, to leading others, and that impressed me with the validity of the camp experience. That made me want to come the next year and the next year and the next year and make that part of my life.”
Verne doesn’t hesitate to add, “Everything that’s happened good for me started at Twin Rocks.”