"Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18
This was a verse that was upon the heart of a young man named Henry Schumaeker, a Canadian Sunday School Mission worker, who was having gospel meetings in the Turtle Mountain area. As Allen Shareski recalls, Henry described his vision during a break from harvesting. The site they were working was next to Partridge Lake, which looked like an ideal setting for a children's camp. Alex Shareski, who owned the land, agreed it was a good idea for gospel outreach and donated the land for this purpose.
One of the churches that supported the idea of a Bible camp was the church that Henry Schumaeker started in a local school. A number of families in the area worked together and with much prayer and effort, in 1947 a week of camp began. The facilities were rustic. A small granary was used for a kitchen and tents were purchased for accommodations. Thirty campers came from as far as Morden Manitoba, an area where Henry had ministered.
During the early years of camp, people from the local area attended the evening meetings. There were speakers from a variety of places, including the United States. Many people from that area were saved, because the camp meetings were geared for adults as well as children.
Since there was a sawmill not far from the campsite, rough lumber was readily available. A kitchen, dining hall, chapel and cabins were built. For refrigeration an ice house was built, which was a hole in the ground about 6' x 6' lined with sawdust; the ice was hauled from the lake in March.
In 1952, the camp was turned over to the Canadian Sunday School Mission (CSSM Ministeries) because of its involvement in camp ministry. The Shareski, Klassen, Mutcher, Schwartz and Nestibo families were some of those involved in the early days of the ministry.
God provided more property when Irvin Goodon, a local businessman, donated some adjacent land. He also provided materials for building projects that included a climbing wall. With the camp expanding to 7 weeks, plus the addition of a Family and Seniors camps, the camp board felt the need to search for a full-time director. This would give the opportunity to be more involved with the area churches at the same time as giving much needed hands on leadership. In June 2002, Howard and Kathy Weir were brought in from Ontario to fill this role. Krystyn Howden served part time as a follow-up co-ordinator from September 2010 - January 2013. In June 2012, Menno and Brenda Bartsch joined the missionary team to serve as site managers. In May 2014, Chelsie Zylstra was brought to the team to fill the role of assistant director to continue the work of follow-up as well as summer program development.
We praise the Lord for His hand of blessing and the way that He has led. A record number of campers continue to attend each summer and we marvel at all God is doing in transforming lives!
In October 2019 we marveled once again at God's provision as we watched the existing dining hall/kitchen/office/chapel facility be torn down - making way for the new facility behind it! God continues to showcase His plan to spread the gospel across Canada, and we are excited to see what He has for TMBC in the future.