Welcome to Black Lake Bible Camp, a camp and conference center committed to providing a quality, God honoring, camping experience in Washington State. Each year thousands of adults and young people come to Black Lake and experience God in a new and unique way. Our commitment as a staff is to assist these people in having a positive experience.
For the summer of 1941 the board, headed by Pastor Percy Carlsson of the Swedish Free Church in Ballard, had made arrangements to hold the summer conference at Lewisville County Park near Battle Ground. Early that spring it became apparent that the park facilities would not be completed, and other plans would have to be made. The small, new churches at LaCenter and Charter Oak, with their new young pastors, Carl Sundholm and Maynard Granlund, came up with a solution.
The school facilities at La Center were made available. The auditorium was used for services. Men from the two churches put up a makeshift kitchen and dining area in a grove of trees on the school property. Food was largely contributed by people from the two churches, and the women, headed by Alice and Clara Beckman, did the cooking and serving. People were housed in the unfinished classrooms of the La Center Church, and in homes of the church members. Dr. Harry Lundell of Trinity Seminary was the speaker. It was a wonderful conference.
By the next summer our country was at war and travel was restricted so there was no conference in 1942. But in 1943 we met at Lake Killarney near Tacoma, and in 1944 and 1945 at Seabeck on Hood Canal. At that last conference at Seabeck it was agreed that we needed our own grounds, and the trustees were authorized to look for a place. Pastor Ralph Larson had recently left the church at Tumwater to go to the new church in Vancouver. He remembered that there had, some time before, been property for sale at Black Lake, and he wondered if it might still be available. It was, and for $500 less than the original price. The Lord had kept it for us, and as soon as we saw it we knew that this was the place we should have. Money for a down payment? We had none, but our District Superintendent, Rev. E. H. Lindquist, had enough to hold the property - $250 – an he made this the first contribution to our new conference property.
The trustees managed to get loans from various church members to pay for the grounds, and our people went to work. Men from Tumwater built a dining hall and kitchen. Just a roof, with only the kitchen area having walls and a cement floor. Pastors and a few laymen spent many weeks cutting down trees and setting up a camp. At the time of purchase the property was heavily wooded, with only a narrow trail leading to the old lodge building near the lake. This building became a sort of all-purpose place, and was called the administration building until it became known as the tiltin’ Hilton before it was finally torn down.
Pier 90 in Seattle proved to be a gold mine for us. All kinds of army surplus item were bought there – cots, dishes, cooking utensils, and two large hospital tents which served as dormitories that first year. Families slept in rented tents. Women in our churches made dish towels, aprons, and mattress covers. These were filled with straw and were used as mattresses by many of the campers that year. As people registered they were directed to a huge pile of straw to make their own. Not a luxury camp, but a jubilant pioneer spirit prevailed, and the warmth of our Christian fellowship and the inspiration and challenge of the messages brought by Rev. Joe Francine made it a truly memorable week. The large dormitory was built the following year, and other buildings and improvements have been added through the years.
During this time the Norwegian-Danish Free Church people had been meeting for conferences at Bethel Park, Vashon Island. After the merger of the two groups all camping activity was carried on at Black Lake, except for a missionary conference held at Bethel Park for several summers.
Many men and women, from all of our churches, have worked hard and have given sacrificially to make this camp what it is today. They are still doing so because they have a strong, clear vision for this place, not perhaps as a great conference center, but as a place of Christian Ministry and fellowship for our Free Church people and other groups of similar faith and convictions