At a meeting of the “St. Croix Fundamentalist Ministers Association ‘’ in 1932 it was decided that a Young Peoples Bible Camp should be created. The ministers, from Hinckley, Pine City, Mora and Grantsburg, first planned on the camp to be at Yellow Banks Boy Scout Camp. At a later meeting they learned about a pavilion and two cottages that were available to rent the week of June 20-27, 1932 on the south end of Grindstone Lake, so they made the change. One hundred campers attended that first camp...which is what we now know as Grindstone Lake Bible Camp.
After 89 years, GLBC is still going strong. There have been many changes and additions throughout the years, but the camp’s love for teaching children about the Bible, seeing them make new friends and experience new things has not changed.
The camp season is kicked off each year with the First Supper. The supper is used as a fundraiser to set the camp up with operating expenses that come in the following weeks. “The First Supper was a really encouraging night for all staff,” said Camp Director Kevin Burgess. “ It was well attended and a lot of camp alumni and supporters from all over the state came. We received a great offering and even more importantly, our staff connected with former staff and were encouraged by their stories and memories.”
As of last Friday, GLBC had 435 campers registered for the 2021 season. However, they still have openings for more. They do accept walk-ins on the day of registration. They offer this for their week long program as well as their Day Camps. “Parents can do drop in care and not worry about calling ahead of time,” said Burgess.
GLBC offers three main camp programs: Traditional Overnight Camp, Day Camp and Wilderness Camp. Each program is unique in its own way, Burgess explained. The Traditional Camp is the week-long program where campers experience the morning flag raising, songs, eat, clean their cabins and then attend a chapel session. They then get to choose two electives, choices include swimming, archery, air rifle, rock wall and many others games and art projects as well. After lunch they choose two more electives and get some free time. After dinner they attend another chapel session, play some more games and head to a night devotion before bed.
The Day Camp follows a similar schedule according to Burgess. “However, they have an educational component and are kept in their own rotation that stays very separate from overnight camps which means that there is little to no contact (due to COVID-19 protocols) with overnight campers. Day campers check out between 4 and 6:15 p.m.
GLBC has around 50 paid staff and seven volunteers. They currently staff the camp with about 36 staff members per week. “I have had to hire more staff in order to cover each week, due to staff shortages and availability. It’s been interesting because younger staff have been working longer hours and shifts than what we have seen before from businesses outside of camp. So working with their work schedule has been very complicated, much more than in previous years,” said Burgess.
Each cabin is staffed by two counselors of the same gender as the campers. Extra kitchen staff was hired this year to help implement the enhanced cleaning procedures due to COVID-19 protocols.
For families struggling financially, GLBC offers a scholarship program. “We know the pandemic still continues to take a toll on families financially,” said Burgess. The week long camp program costs $220 per child and the typical scholarship is $100. Burgess said in a typical year they are able to provide approximately $16,000 in scholarship funds. Donations come into the camp from different sources according to Burgess. “We have received $2,500 from the Greater Pine Area Endowment to be used for Pine City students who show a scholarship need to attend. We have received $6,000 from the Peace Shalom Foundation that will be used for any Minnesotan families to send their camper. We have received around $20,000 from individual donors, as well as our Envelope Scholarship Fund Raiser,” he said. “Our Association Churches in Pine and Kanabec Counties also provide scholarships to their campers who attend at varying rates. We debate every year about raising rates, but always come back to the conclusion that campers in cabins, meeting new people, working on social skills, working on their personal life journeys, as well as trying new things and challenging themselves are more important than raising the rate.” If you have a child looking to go to camp this summer the scholarship application can be found at the following link https://www.grindstonelakebiblecamp.org/scholarship-application.html.