Camp History

History is so very important because we are the past: we are made up of all the events, whether good, bad, or indifferent that have happened to us. And it is the sum of those events that guides and influences us in the present. One of the best ways we can understand who we are and how we got to be that way is by knowing the past. Covenant Heights is not an exception, for we are most certainly a collection of events, people, sacrifices, joy, and God's faithfulness. Below is a short slideshow with some fun pictures of the past as well as the story of Covenant Heights.  

The story of Covenant Heights is one that started in the early 1930's in the activities and Christian fellowship of the Covenant Young Peoples and Sunday School Conference of Colorado and Wyoming. The Covenant churches of Colorado and the Laramie and Cheyenne churches of Wyoming joined together in a concerted effort to provide inspiration, Christian fellowship, and evangelism for the young people of the churches. For many years, a camping program was held at Geneva Glen, just west of Denver. These camps continued until 1945. For the 1946 summer conference, the YMCA "Friendship Lodge" at Estes Park was rented, since this location was more centrally located for all the churches.


During the spring and summer of 1946, Mr. and Mrs. Carl Danielson and Rev. and Mrs. J.D. Broman of Denver traveled extensively in the Estes Park and Boulder areas searching for land that might be available as a camp site. Camping was becoming popular and many conference leaders felt a Covenant conference campground in the beautiful Rocky Mountains would be advantageous. At the Estes Park 1946 conference, it became known that a Mr. Kjeldgaard of Brush, Colorado, owned about 80 acres of land on Highway 7 at the foot of Long's Peak in south St. Vrain canyon. He had offered the property to his own church (Lutheran) as a possible location for a youth camp. Several of the Covenant conference leaders and Rev. Paul Rood, who was the 1946 speaker, visited the camp site and were much impressed with the with the possibilities. Late in the summer, word was received that the Lutherans had turned down Mr. Kjeldgaard's offer. Immediately, contact was made, negotiations followed, and the present campsite of 65 acres was purchased for $24,000. Terms of the purchase included a small down payment with additional payments continuing for three years with no interest charge. Indeed, history was made in the Rocky Mountain Covenant Conference (We are now part of the Midwest Conference).



WATCH OUR SLIDESHOW

After this momentous decision, the challenge of building a camp faced the conference and, in particular, a group of men and women who committed themselves to the enormous task of developing a camp on the grounds just purchased. First of all, a financial campaign was launched in which bonds were sold to members of the Covenant churches. Also, part of the land was sub-divided into lots (100' X 100') which were offered for sale at $75 to $125. By November 1948, almost $21,000 had been raised in the churches of the Rocky Mountain Conference.


But there were many other concerns; tree, brush, and rock removal; building of a chapel, dining hall, dormitories, water supply, electricity, beds, mattresses, pillows, chapel benches, managers, cooks, food - in looking back, a staggering assignment. Enough cannot be said about the sacrificial giving of time, energy, money, and planning of a number of men and women from Greeley - Oscar Ericksons, Phil Ullrichs, Carl Swansons, Martin Andersons; from Huxton - John Anderson, Walter Eckmans, Alvey Garretsons; from Denver - J.D. Bromans, Carl Danielsons, Chester Ericksons, John Broman; from Scottsbluff - John Eckhardts; from Cheyenne - Walter Meyer; and many, many others.

Naming the camp became a contest for the youth of the conference. Names were submitted with a one-week camp scholarship being the first prize. A girl from Scottsbluff won the prize with her entry - Covenant Heights, a name now known throughout the entire Covenant.


As soon as the camp became operational in the summer of 1948, several other church groups requested use of the facilities. This number has continued to increase until the present time with camps now being held throughout the year.


News of the camp facility spread to many other places including the Covenant Administration Headquarters in Chicago. During the summer of 1948, representatives from Covenant Youth of America visited Covenant Heights and decided it would be an adequate, ideal, inspirational, and new place for the 1950 Quadrennial. Plans were made; advertising sent out and before long, 550 young Covenanters had registered to attend the August conference. At the time of Quadrennial, the camp could accommodate approximately 250 people. Thus extra beds, mattresses, dishes, silverware, and several tents had to be rented. Wooden floors were built for the tents, and a large meeting tent was erected. An electric organ was rented plus many other items necessary to conduct a successful youth conference.

In order to operate a camp, an adequate staff must be on hand to run things smoothly. Staffing the camp had been a big problem and if a few dedicated people had not volunteered time, effort, and money, the camp would not be in operation today.


For the ten years they were here, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Erickson of Greeley served as manager and head cook. No one knows how much these two servants of God gave of themselves in all aspects of the camp. In one secretary report the conference voted to pay the Ericksons a salary of $500 for the work of the entire summer. Oscar accepted only $150 to cover expenses he himself had paid out. Mr. and Mrs. Erickson were passionately committed to providing a place where youth could encounter Christ and form a personal relationship with Him.


In the past 50 years, the camp facilities have been steadily enlarged and improved until we have the comfortable and functional retreat we know today. Area church members’ willingness to serve has allowed improvement in the areas of building repair and decoration of the facilities.


Covenant Heights is today a year-round camp facility, offering many programs to those who come. What began as a dream has become a reality for the Rocky Mountain Covenant Conference. Youth of all ages are experiencing the Lord Jesus Christ in many ways and every year we see hundreds of lives changed due to the vision and hard work of God's servants.


Do you have other information or pictures about the history of Covenant Heights? Email us!