Beginning Years of Loon Lake Methodist Camp

By Beth Hurlocker (2012)

Camping at Loon Lake started as overnight for Methodist Youth groups in Gardiner. The youth planned the meals and bought the food and sleeping bags. A short beach was the area for sleeping bags; the warmth and good swimming facilities made it poplar. This was in 1950's before BLM improved and expanded the beach and boating ramps. Coos Bay, North Bend residents also hiked to camp at Duckett's camp ground to get away from fog and cold winds in the summer.

 

Bob Hale and his family from Coos Bay camped in one of Duckett's cabin every summer. Paul Hurlocker delivered gasoline and diesel fuel to a small mill having his truck barged across the lake by Frank Rose and Ed Wrestle the loggers and mill owners,

 

When the logging was finished, the land was put on the market; Bob and Paul dreamed about developing it for a Methodist Church camp for other South coast churches, so far away from our other camps in Suttle Lake and Magruder. They shared this dream with other churches in Eugene, Roseburg and Drain. Laymen donated enough money to make a down payment on the land, hoping that Annual Conference would include Loon Lake in the official Camping program.

 

It took more than one year before financial assistance was given by Oregon Annual Conference so another source of income was harvesting holly from a large holly farm also in the meadow on Loo Lake edge. A buyer for the holly in Eugene was found, work parties were held to harvest the holly and box it up for delivery. Paul had a Chevy flatbed truck which was parked on a barge to get it across the Lake; the holly boxes were loaded on and he made the delivery run to Eugene several time before Christmas. Enough money was earned from this project to keep quarterly payments made until the Conference voted to use it as an official camping facility.

Servicing this property was accomplished only by boat, a group of laymen in Coos Bay/ North Bend Churches made plans to build a barge with an outboard motor; dimensions were safe for transporting campers and luggage, supplies for camping and food stuffs; Maurice Romig, Wayne Andrews, Don Thompson, George Ten Eyck are names that I remember from Coos Bay and North Bend volunteers.

When summer camping was over “the barge” was tied up at Duckett’s Resort where Lloyd Keeland managed a campground and cabins.  He kept the camp committee informed when heavy rains made the water level in the lake rise.

Weekend retreats brought others to use the Loon Lake Camp facilities.  Small groups from school campuses came. Sunday picnics for south coast church outing brought many to the warmth of the Loon Lake Area, besides those who attended the Oregon Methodist Camping programs there. 

From 1962 to 1995 each camp required volunteers for each program: a dean, a cook, small groups counselor’s, water-front managers for canoes use and swimming, maintenance people for the lodge, water supply system, teepees and tools.  Every primitive camping required many willing hands to pass along the teaching and inspiration which Christian camping offers to others.