Manitou Lake Bible Camp’s first summer was in 1940, the vision of Mr. Lloyd Hanson, a young minister from Prairie Bible College. Camp was held at Doug Graham’s farm, just a few miles NE of the present location. The machine shed was the chapel, and the blacksmith shop was the kitchen and dining hall. Granaries, the machine shed loft, and later, canvas tents, were used for sleeping quarters. Born out of a desire to know God, the main event was always chapel where songs of praise to God were sung, testimonies shared, and God’s word was preached. However, there was always plenty of time for fun, like games of tag, pranks, and swimming trips down to Manitou Lake in the back of a grain truck.
God blessed the little camp at Doug Graham’s place, and as more people began coming, it was evident that they needed a new location. In 1950, a committee from four churches–Provost, Unity, Wainwright, and possibly Lloydminster–started looking for a new campsite. The result was the current location, which experienced its first summer camp in 1951. The first building at the new campsite was the dining hall.
1950-51 also saw the advent of one of MLBC’s oldest, and most popular activities, the merry-go-round. Built out of old machinery and tractor parts, it has been moved and over-hauled, countless times. It has brought smiles and excitement to many, many campers–old and young. The merry-go-round still operates presently at the camp.
In 1970 MLBC joined the Canadian Sunday School Mission. There were 99 campers that summer, plus a family camp. Since then, the camp has continued to grow in its physical size and its ministry. As more campers came, the need for more weeks of camp increased as well. In 1980 MLBC expanded to 4 weeks of summer camps. Then in 1987 a fifth week was introduced, with nearly 500 campers attending per summer. Since then, it has kept growing steadily. In 2013, MLBC will host eight weeks of kids camp, a 50+ camp, a family camp weekend, and a Young Adults weekend.
The first activities at MLBC were nature lore, water activities, hiking, overnight camping, and crafts. In the years since, many activities have been added: riflery, archery, drama, horsemanship (1978), windsurfing & waterskiing (1985), rappelling wall (1990), soccer camp (1995), paint ball (2000), skateboarding & bmxing (2004).
Large building projects in MLBC’s recent history history include: a 70’ X 40’ gymnasium in 1990, a new chapel in 1991, a double girls cabin in 1994, holding stalls for horses in 1997, an ATCO trailer for volunteer housing in 2000, and a new dining hall facility in 2004-2005.
Local churches have always been the driving force behind Manitou Lake Bible Camp. At various times in its history, churches from Provost, Wainwright, Ryley, Lloydminster, Neilburg, Cutknife, Edgerton, Chauvin, and Lashburn have been actively involved in running MLBC.
We are very thankful for God’s blessing on Manitou Lake Bible Camp and its ministry to its community. And we look forward to seeing what God will do in the future with the camp as we keep seeking his guidance and strength.