On Saturday, Aug. 17, Camp Chetek, at 730 Lakeview Drive, is welcoming local residents and past and present campers to their campus to celebrate 75 years since the Chetek Baptist Assembly incorporated.
It will be an event not only to celebrate the camp’s history, but also its future, as a groundbreaking ceremony will be held for a new chapel and gym.
“We want to invite people to see the history and where it’s headed with the new chapel,” said David Mulder, program director at the camp.
Events on Saturday start at 10 a.m. with Dr. John Goetsch speaking. Goetsch was a camper as a teenager and his time here was a life-changing experience for him, noted current camp director Randy Tanis. Former camp director Dick Robinson, Tanis, and John Erb, son of Armin Erb who was camp director for 23 years, will all speak as well. There will be special music by the Doyle Robertson family. Robertson was a music director at the camp for 18 years.
“The service is a reflection on 75 years of history,” said Tanis, adding a 15-minute video will be shown during the event, showcasing photos of the camp.
At 11:45 a.m., the ground breaking will take place, followed by a free picnic lunch served in the dining hall at 12 p.m.
From 1:30–5 p.m., there will be activities throughout the camp, including wagon tours, ski boat rides, pontoon rides, pedal carts, laser tag, pony rides and high ropes course (ages 13-plus). Closed toed shoes are required for the horse rides and high ropes course and all activities are weather dependent.
All are invited.
More details about Camp Chetek and the 75th Anniversary event can be found at www.campchetek.org.
A new place to gather
Mulder and Tanis noted the old chapel is more than 70 years old and isn’t large enough to comfortably hold a full camp. It is also unheated, meaning it can’t be used during the cooler parts of the year.
The new chapel and gym will be built over the course of two years, at a projected cost of $2.1 million, Tanis said. Fundraising is ongoing to help support the project.
After the ground breaking on Saturday, Tanis said the first phase will be to do ground work in October, with installation of water, sewer and electrical lines, at a projected cost of $250,000.
For the second phase in spring 2020, the metal exterior will be built with wood framing on the inside, at an estimated cost of $750,000.
The third phase will be to build the interior walls and install the heating and cooling systems, at a projected cost of $500,000.
The fourth phase will be to finish out the building, with a coffee shop, install the gym floor and a public address system and finish the locker rooms and bathrooms, at an estimated cost of $500,000, plus $100,000 for contingencies.
Tanis said they hope to have it built and able to use by summer of 2021, with it fully completed by the end of 2021.
Maintenance supervisor Kipp Malmanger will be the general contractor, with much of the work to be completed by camp staff or volunteers. A lot of people are coming in to help, Tanis said.
Mulder said, at some point, the old chapel will have to come down, as sad as it is. Legend has it that boards from the chapel before the old chapel were used to build parts of the ceiling. Perhaps wood from the current chapel could be used to build a cross, a small prayer chapel or in the new chapel and gym, he said.
“There’s a lot of memories,” he said of the old chapel. “But the new one has much more potential.”
Christ Centered Camp Chetek
The camp has many programs aimed at families, kids, couples, men and women throughout the year. Tanis noted that many campers’ lives have been changed while at camp, with many finding their calling to God, meeting their future spouse or just meeting lifelong friends here.
All six of Tanis’ children have served as counselors at camp. One of his sons met his now wife when they were both working as counselors.
Mulder said his family came to camp when he was very young. “Some of my first memories, period, are here,” he said. He got to know his wife,
“It’s been a part of my life as far back as I can remember,” Mulder said.
Now, as a staff member at camp, he now shares and passes on the love of camp, the experience of life-changing messages, and lots of fun and enjoyment to a new generation of campers every year.
For the next 75 years, Tanis said his goal for the camp was to continue doing the ministry is has been. The camp had nearly 1,600 campers this summer.
“It’s been neat for me to provide an atmosphere for kids to have a great time at Bible camp,” Tanis said.