The Building of Camp Laurelview
Laurelview Christian Camp was opened in 1964, following the sale of Camp Indian Springs. The site, in Middlecreek Township of Somerset County, was purchased from a Mr. Cratty, who, I think, was a contractor in Wilkinsburg. It was an active farm of about 85 acres. He fed the selection committee on the front porch of the old farmhouse (still in use). The porch was entirely screened in.
Immediately upon purchase, a master plan was completed and the work of transforming the farm into a workable camp site began. The master plan called for six dormitory type cabins, to be built on a pathway in back of the barn. The committee decided that initially only two of the cabins would be built. The winter of l963 was especially severe, with deep snow laying on the ground until Palm Sunday of l964.
In order to be ready for the first season, the two cabins were pre-assembled in the upstairs of the barn. As soon as the snow melted, they were taken section by section to the concrete pads and re-assembled there. A sizeable group of men from our churches worked on this part of the project. As I remember it, Clem Pireaux, from the Charleroi Church, a retired carpenter, headed the construction.
A well was dug, and proved to be more than adequate for the needs of 200 campers. “Dutch” Myers, a heating contractor from the Wilkinsburg Christian Church, installed the furnaces in the farm house, the two cabins, and the dining room in the basement of the barn. Men and women from most of our churches were involved in transforming the basement of the barn into a dining room.
Elmer Shindledecker, from the New Kensington Christian Church, did the wiring, which included underground cable for the proposed six cabins. Ralph Stevenson, also from the New Kensington Church, owned a brickyard which also made terra cotta pipe. He undertook the drainage field for the entire camp. Dishes were donated by the East End Christian Church. As the Holy Scripture states, the people had a mind to work, so that all was in readiness when the opening day arrived.
Over the years other updating and improvements have been made to the property. The third cabin, often referred to as the Director’s Cabin, was built as a result of a generous donation in memory of Irene Polen, of the First Christian Church, Washington. A large and beautiful pavilion has been erected on the hilltop, and an inspiring outdoor worship center has been built overlooking the Laurel Mountain.
But the best part of the Laurelview story is not in the buildings built or work done. The best part is the large number of lives changed for Jesus Christ, and life-long friendships formed. Talk to almost anyone who has attended camp or conference there, and they will respond that Laurelview is to them nothing short of the Gates of Heaven. For that we give God thanks!
Written by Rev. Norman Hunt, 2008