In 1962 the Presbyteries of Huntingdon and Northumberland elected members of a task force to search for suitable land for the development of a camp and conference center.
In June of that year a four hundred thirty-seven-acre tract was found in Little Sugar Valley in the Nittany Mountains approximately in the center of the two Presbyteries. Morris T. Bone, outdoor education specialist on the Board of Christian Education of the United Presbyterian Church, was contacted for guidance and advice. He strongly urged that a Director of Development and Program be employed and recommended the Rev. Torsten E. A. Edvar. Rev. Bone indicated that Rev. Edvar was just completing the development of a camp designed for 150 girls per week, a size that paralleled the projected needs of the Presbyteries.
Subsequently the Presbyteries issued a call for Rev. Edvar who began his work November 1, 1963. Initial studies indicated that further land needed to be purchased in order for a viable development to take place. Fortunately key properties could be obtained and development planning began in earnest.
While continuing to program a week for junior and junior highs at Camp Kanesatake as well as a senior high conference at Juniata College, the development of a tenting unit at Krislund began.
This unit was opened for a four-week experimental season in the summer of 1964. Four cabins were completed in 1965, as well as restoration of the farmhouse and barns to accommodate a year round maintenance facility. Also in 1965 programs at Kanesatake were eliminated and Krislund began an eight-week program with a staff comprised equally of volunteer pastors and laity and paid college age adults.
The original water system for the early facilities was inadequate and riddled with leaks. In 1966 the project was to completely redesign and install a water system able to meet the needs of an expanding program.
Program and facility transition was the focus of 1967 at Krislund. An Olympic-size pool was constructed, requiring an electrical generating station and installation of hundreds of feet of underground cable in the main camping area. A covered wagon unit was created to meet the program and housing needs of eighth and ninth graders. Fourth and fifth graders continued to use the cabin unit, and two additional tent platforms were added to increase the bed capacity of the sixth and seventh grade unit. Krislund’s capacity had now doubled to 108 campers a week. Ten canoes were also purchased at this time and two trailers were built to enable their transport for senior high trips to the Adirondacks and Canada. This was also the first year that the in-camp program was run by an all paid college staff.
In 1968, on the south side of Roaring Run creek, a primitive unit was built for counselor in training programs. This increased the weekly capacity to 120 per week. Off-season, weekend programs were also flourishing at this time. The winterized cabins and lodges were used often.
Food service operation for the summer season was based in the farmhouse and eating facilities were provided at the Lower Lodge picnic shelter. Before the 1970 summer season began a new and larger kitchen and dining facility were constructed. Called the “Retreat Center” (“R.C.”), this building was developed as the first stage of a later year-round conference center, complete with attached dormitories. To keep the tradition of group self-sufficiency, campers continued to prepare breakfast and lunch at their units’ fire circles.
Age groupings for the units were closely maintained beginning in 1970, keeping with the United Presbyterian curriculum changes. The cabin unit housed third and fourth graders, the tenting unit fifth and sixth graders, the covered wagon unit seventh and eighth graders, and the counselor in training (“C.I.T.”) unit across the creek for four weeks and the remaining four weeks for the ninth grade pioneer unit.
A flood washed the Camp’s wooden bridge entrance, spanning Roaring Run, away during pre-camp training in 1972, canceling the first week of Camp. A temporary wooden structure at another section of the stream makes access possible for the remaining Camps. Extensive road improvements were made during this summer and in the fall the existing concrete and steel bridge was built.
Carlisle Presbytery, after negotiations with the two northern Presbyteries, joined in a purchase of service agreement in 1973. The addition of their 318 campers increased the first and subsequent summer season from eight to nine weeks. The 1973 summer total of campers was 1,120. This remained the capacity until recently.
A dormitory addition was added to the Lower Lodge during the summer of 1974. Now this building would serve as a small retreat center with a capacity of 24 for off-season use.
A continuous water source was developed at the C.I.T.-pioneer unit in 1978. Beforehand the campers relied upon tankards of water sent over from main camp for their use. Now a mountain spring provided cold and clean water for all their needs.
Later an open shelter and sanitary facility were constructed at this unit in 1983. A twenty-year reunion was held at the Camp in 1983. From the 340 staff invitations came 225 participants.
In 1993 the Camp celebrated its 30th year anniversary. A fire, occurring during pre-camp that summer, destroyed the 2-year-old site manager log home, located a couple hundred yards north of the North Barn. The months that followed were times of difficult evaluation and choices.
Kaleidoscope, Inc. provided an in-depth evaluation of the camp structure, staffing, and program in 1993, making recommendations for taking the camp into the next century. The Master Plan was finished, presented, and approved by the three Presbyteries in February of 1995.
Soon thereafter a Phase I Implementation program, with pledged monies totaling almost $700,000, was approved to address the issues of electricity, water, telephone, sanitation, bathhouse construction, brown house remodeling, maintenance facility construction, and land acquisition.
For the first time since its opening in 1963, Krislund had no summer camp in 1994. The following summer a smaller program hosted approximately 150 campers in work camps, using for the first time the initiatives course built by volunteers from Wellsboro, PA.
Steve Cort was hired as Camp Administrator in July of 1995. He and his family moved into the Brown House in August, and then into a new home constructed on the spot of the prior site manager home in December of that same year.
Approval of a “Forest Stewardship Plan” in 1995 resulted in a 50-acre cut north of the Camp road in 1996, and a larger portion was cut south of Roaring Run in 1996 and 1997. The Camp also purchased 20 entryway acres from the Wingate family in 1996, increasing the total Camp holdings to 660 acres.
The 1996 summer program ended with 466 campers, and 590 campers attended the 1997 season. New program additions at those times included the climbing tower, caving, senior high “Primitive Camp” (at the former Pioneer / CIT camp), sand pit volleyball, basketball, family camp, and off-site outings with backpacking, climbing, and canoeing for senior highs and families.
Before the start of the 1998 summer season, the Camp’s Future Planning Committee was reactivated to look ahead and to make recommendations regarding the Camp’s long-term ministry. That process was a first and significant step in preparing and guiding Krislund into the next millennium.
At the close of the 1998 summer camps, 951 persons had participated (a 61% increase from the previous year), including more than 35 senior highs and adults in three mission projects. New programs included a Half Camp, Day Camp, and Family Camps.
Thanks to generous donations, activities expanded to include a high ropes course, archery, and tepees for senior highs and families. Phase I redevelopment issues were completed, with the exception of final monitoring of the sanitation cells, in the fall of 1998.
In 1999 the Camp began expanding its summer housing with the addition of four 3rd & 4th grade cabins, eight new 6-person tents (replacing the older 4-person models), and moved four staff wagons into the camper wagons. New accommodations could now house more than 1,300 campers during the summer.
Program facilities were expanded with a second high ropes course, the beginning of a second initiatives/orienteering course across Roaring Run creek, a new arts and crafts pavilion, and a pole building for registration over the site of the former “Tarzan and Jane”.
The conference room in the Brown House was remodeled, and an upstairs bedroom was provided beside the Administrator’s office.
The Retreat Center was reconfigured in 2000 for summer offices, and a new dining room and beginnings of a new kitchen were constructed in 2001. The summer ended with 1,290 campers.
The R.C. focus continued into 2002 with a modern kitchen facility installed, framing of a second dining room on the west side of the building, and remodeling of the downstairs meeting room for summer staff.
In the final months of that year, the surrounding 1,500 acres became an unexpected issue as the owners prepared to sell it for development. The Presbyteries rallied and closed on the purchase of the adjoining property March 14, 2003.
Four Adirondack shelters (“daks”) and a staff training center were added in 2004 and the final R.C. renovation projects were completed.
Croda Industries donated their modular office building in 2007. It is now the new office building at the camp’s entrance to the programming area. The Brown House will now be used to house mission groups working on the New Lodge and other projects; later it will become housing for interns.
New construction has continued in 2009 with the development of the Longhouses. The longhouses will primarily serve as the housing units for our 5th and 6th graders during the summer program. Each longhouse has two bunkrooms with twelve beds each as well as a third room with another four beds for a total of twenty eight beds. In March of that same year, Art DeVos was hired as the new Program Director and moved here from Iowa with an extensive background in the camping ministry.
Krislund continues its tradition of growth and improvements in order to meet the needs of campers and off-season groups. Only time will tell what Krislund will be in the next twenty years, but it will certainly continue, through the continued efforts of pastors, congregations, parents, campers, and staff, to be “Christ’s Land.”