In 1946, the leaders of the Christian Home for Children (now known as Family Life Services) in Colorado Springs were looking for a spot to send their children for a few days in the summer. As they searched, John Walden and Ken Baird found Colorado College's geological camp near Woodland Park. For the next two or three years, they conducted week-long camps for their kids at that site, which went by the name of Camp Ewing. Other children besides those from the Christian Home for Children also attended and soon many people agreed that the time had come for a camp work run by the Plymouth Brethren churches along the front range. As a result, the Colorado Rockies Bible Camp & Conference (CRBCC) was formed on March 31, 1950.
Before the site was Camp Elim, it was called Camp Ewing.
The Lodge as seen when entering Camp Elim in 1959. In the background is North Dorm, where Northwoods Lodge stands today.
The sports field and the East Dorm, where Summit Lodge is now built. Circa 1959.
The first effort of the new organization was a family camp and conference that same year at Silver Lake Camp west of Sedalia. The camps and conferences were held mostly at rented facilities such as Covenant Heights during the 1950's. Typically they consisted of a single week-long camp for children and a Bible conference for adults at the same time.
The remoteness of the Covenant Heights site from most of the supporting churches was a constant topic of discussion among the leadership, and continual efforts to secure a more central site were being made. Over the years, interest grew among the supporting churches for CRBCC to have its own facilities so that several camps could be held throughout the summer for children of different age groups.
In 1959, John Walden reported that Camp Ewing was for sale and might be obtained for $25,000. Immediately the leaders agreed to form a legal corporation for the purpose of purchasing property. The Articles of Incorporation were approved in December of 1959 and in March of 1960 Camp Ewing, consisting mainly of four buildings, was purchased for $9,000!
Campers in front of the Lodge, warming up for a full day of activities!
Setting time aside to spend in God's Word is one of the longest running and most valued practices at Camp Elim.
These campers are enjoying a picnic at Manitou Lake, a nearby site still frequented in Camp Elim programs.
The land was leased from the US Forest Service. The buildings and equipment were in very bad condition. The 1960 camp season was held at Covenant Heights because a contract had already been signed. But, a July 4 picnic of celebration of the Lord's goodness was held at Camp Ewing. Later that year it was decided to hold all subsequent camps there, and to have five age brackets, for camps on five successive weeks.
At the suggestion of Reuben Anderson, the Directors agreed in 1961 to rename the facility Camp Elim. The name "Elim" comes from Exodus 15:27 which says "Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water." Just as Elim was an oasis in the wilderness for the children of Israel, so too would Camp Elim be an oasis for the wilderness we all face from day to day.
The Directors also decided that John Walden should be the Camp Manager for the 1961 season. John and his wife, Nan, lived on the camp grounds where they were the all-purpose caretakers as well as the managers. At the end of 1961 John Walden reported that there had been 240 campers in 5 weeks.
A principal task was upgrading the facilities. The building of a swimming pool was agreed on in 1961 and soon constructed. A basement was excavated under the Lodge to provide space for a chapel of modest size, and for offices.
Camp Elim has continued to grow and improve since its founding. Some such improvements include renovating the East Dorm, North Dorm, and Rec Shelter into Summit Lodge, Northwoods Lodge, and Canyon Lodge respectively, as well as expanding the dining room to accommodate for growing attendance. You can see our buildings on our facilities page.
Camp continued to lease the 16 acre property from the Forest Service for a total of 57 years, until completing a land exchange on October 31st, 2017, which granted Camp Elim ownership of 57 acres! Learn more about the land exchange here.
The Sports Field has been used for a wide myriad of games and events over the years!
This camper, Karen (now Padgett), grew up to serve as Camp Elim's food service supervisor for seven years!
A counselor examining the Bible with his campers.
The Waldens continued their Manager role for the 1961 through 1964 seasons. Jim Wright was invited to be the Director for 1965 and continued in that capacity through 1970. In 1971, Paul Sapp became the Director and continued through 1982 at which time Dan Faulkner took the position. Dan served in this capacity until 1994 at which time Bill Pearson became the Director. Following Bill, Jay Brady served as Camp Director from 1997 through 2003, at which time Dan Faulkner returned to take over the helm once again.
Over the years Camp has been blessed with a variety of caretakers including: Jim McCormick, Harold Frazier, Al Donnigan, Bruce Hintze, Mike Brewington and Dan Girdner.
Other year-round staff members over the years have included:
Food Service Supervisors: Lois "Granny" Nelson, Karen Daniel, Geri (Faulkner) Trim, Jon Price, Chelsea Van Ryn, Karen Padgett, Krystan Woodcock, Sherry Vargason, Kristin Carmickle, and, currently, Josh Denning
Administrative Assistants: Julie Glinsman, Elaine Sapp, Teri Faulkner, Dana Carpenter, Andrea Brandt, and, currently, Teri Faulkner
Facilities Manager: Shawn Willoughby, Everett Mansfield, Joel Neidel, and currently, Tim Meinert
Program Supervisors & Assistants: Tom Copley, Josh Polly, Jon Hoffman, Connor Parkinson, and, currently, Gabe Gurley
Spiritual Ministries Coordinators & Assistants: Tim O'Byrne, Danny Doerksen, Jess Huber, Micah Harrison, Tyler Pagel, Calder Marriott, and, currently, Derick Lehmkuhl and Ian Miller
Guest Services Coordinators: LeAnne Weaver and Natalie Trefts
Media Supervisors: James Carlson, and, currently, Jamie Bell
Volunteer Staff Coordinator: Derick Lehmkuhl
GAP Year Coordinator: Calder Marriott