A BRIEF HISTORY IN TESTIMONY

(Part III)


BILLY COOPER

I was just a kid in the Cottage that first year in 1946, and there was just a handful of children. Elisabeth Lindau was my counselor. The Palace had not been built yet, and they were just preparing for it.

Later, when I was a camper in the Palace, Arthur Waldvogel was my counselor. One time we went to Pharaoh Lake, and we all returned to camp in a sea plane. It was nice seeing camp from an aerial view, and taxiing up to the Boathouse.

I am thankful I was able to go to camp. My parents couldn't afford sending my brother and me, but someone else saw the value and did. I never knew who paid year after year. I've been inquiring lately, and I've heard rumors who that might have been.

I remember being a staff member and being in that big workers' tent with Leslie Smith and John Perz. Late one night we were carrying on, talking and mimicking Brother Gordon's preaching. We went on for a long while and later discovered him standing outside the tent. That's probably the most terrifying experience of my youth.

The year I worked on the staff with Sister Pearl Young is especially memorable. I was her potboy when the kitchen was still up by the Lodge. She made a tremendous impression on me. I never forgot her. I look back at the value of working with her and seeing her godliness and patience. I knew there was something about her and her relationship with the Lord.

I was a rebel in those days. I don't think I ever entered into the meetings. One thing I always think about is how Brother Gordon used to sit there leading the meeting, either in prayer or in a quiet time. He would have his eyes closed, but then instinctively know if we were doing something wrong. Then he'd open his eyes just a slit, to let us know, and then he'd fall back into worship.

If it weren't for Pilgrim Camp I don't think I would be here today. The Lord had a hand on my life and embedded a seed in me. Years later I would always think of things I had heard at Pilgrim Camp. It was like the Hound of Heaven.

I'm thankful for all my counselors, and for the other staff members. Many of them went into the ministry or to the mission field. Only much later did I come to value these people?especially the Gardiners. The memories I have of them!



MARIE SALVIA COLLURA

I was only 14 or 15 when I first went to camp in 1946. I can't say I remember everything that happened that year, but I do remember having to dry the dishes in that old kitchen right off the Lodge. I also remember not liking that chore very much.

Five of us young girls stayed in what is now the office. Helen Schilly Waldvogel was one of them?Jean Hall and Eleanor Parker were two others I remember. One incident sticks out in my memory. We were up rather late one night, talking and giggling and just being regular teenage girls. I guess we got a little loud. We didn't realize that there was an entrance from the back area of the Lodge into our room. All of a sudden we started screaming at the sight of a "ghost" who quietly came in the back and managed to scare the living daylights out of us. When we realized it was Sister Caroline, with her hair long and flowing, and wearing a white robe, we screamed and laughed even louder. Of course she saw the humor of it, too, and joined in the laugher.

But I am thankful for Pilgrim Camp. Years later I worked on the staff and spent many years as a guest. My children were campers year after year, and we all have good memories of that place. My sister, Rosie, also worked for many years as the camp cook and had a special spot in her heart for the Gardiners and for camp.



EDMUND KERUT

I was at camp one of those first years on Brant Lake. Even as a kid I was thrilled to be there. I found the Boathouse especially a neat place to be. Charlie Kreuzer was the cook that first year I was there. Otto Schad and I did dishes in that hot kitchen, and we became famous for singing the dirge, Nobody knows the trouble I've seen...nobody but Jesus." Ruth Bocker Kalis and Anne Zanuck Fette were waitresses. Ruth really loved her pies. She made sure to put a few extra pieces away for her snack, and we used to tease her about this. Anne Fette told us that teasing was very unspiritual.

Charlie, Robert Borst and Chuck Hofflander and I stayed in Karl Sailer's house, in the unfinished attic. The highlight of that year was an overnight camping trip Charles Hofflander made with me to Pharaoh Lake. That really was very thrilling.

Camp is also memorable for me because a few years later I met my wife, Marianne, there. Actually I had seen her earlier at Brother Steffan's camp out in Huntington. I heard that she and Eleanor Herzog Pra were going to Pilgrim Camp, so Brother Van Houten and I decided to go upstate. Marianne and I played a game of pingpong at the Boathouse, the deal being that the loser would buy ice cream. Of course I allowed her to win, but she has disputed that all these years.

Since those early days, camp has been a great blessing to me. Years later the Lord filled me with the Holy Spirit at camp, and I'll never forget that.



CATHERINE GERBINO IMMORDINO

I remember travelling on the bus for eight hours?going to this beautiful place in the Adirondacks Sister Caroline Gardiner had told us so much about. We arrived in pouring rain and were directed into the Lodge. We were told that we all had to "volunteer" our services in washing and drying dishes, because the staff was small. I shared a cabin with another girl, and I recall how cold it was during the night. I just couldn't warm up.

The next morning the sun shone, and we were all amazed at the beauty of the lake, the mountains and the stillness and quiet. It was nothing like the city. From the very first meeting, the Lord met us and poured out His Holy Spirit. Brother Hans Waldvogel encouraged us to get alone with God during the day. Many felt God's pleading and did just that. Despite my fear of country bugs and insects, I recall going into the woods, sitting on a rock and seeking the Lord. The Lord had said it would be a "red letter day" in my life. Indeed it was.

Though I was not officially on the staff that first year, I was privileged to be a counselor with the girls later, and then much later I counseled at the cottage with my husband Vincent.

I recall Brother Hans Waldvogel, saying under God's anointing, that Pilgrim Camp's grounds would be "holiness unto the Lord"?and it has been to this day.



EMIL SOKASITS

My introduction to the beauty of God's creation began there in the Adirondacks, first at Lake George and then at Brant Lake.

I have many memories of camp. One night that first year on Brant Lake is especially vivid. It was tremendously hot. Usually we did not go swimming at night, but it was so unbearable that they made an exception. I remember Edwin Waldvogel was there with us. Although we had a good swim, we were also working very hard clearing away the many rocks that in those days were all along the beach.

Arthur Waldvogel was my counselor that first year. He also ran the candy store. I remember being crammed in a room off the Lodge until the next year when the Palace was built.

I have been back to Pilgrim Camp every year from 1946 to the present. Whenever I visit there I marvel at the tremendous dedication and devotion of all those who throughout the years have given their time to this work. May God bless them.



ROSEMARIE GERBINO IMPELLIZZARI

I used to go to the East Side church as a girl, when Brother Frank Posta was the pastor. A group of us girls, 10 to 12 years in age, went up to Brant Lake that first year for one week. Sister Elisabeth Lindau was our counselor in the Cottage. The place was full of those tiny mice. Every time you opened a drawer, you never knew if they would jump out at you. But we had to keep that place spotlessly clean.

The luxuries of home were not there either. On each dresser was an old fashioned basin and pitcher, and the water was very cold. We would wash our hair in the lake on Saturday night.

One of the girls with us that year from the Williamsburg church was Lucy Pompalonia. We didn't know it at the time, but she was a very sick girl. I remember she gave her heart to the Lord during that time we were at camp, and we later learned that she died within two weeks. It was something for young girls to go through that?very sobering.

I returned to camp every year following that first time, and when I became 17, I waitressed for the whole summer. I served with Paula Harman and two other girls. I recall vividly that Nina and Bob Lyons were there ministering. Also the Mitchells. I was so nervous serving them in the dining room. Gordon McKinnon was the potboy at that time.

Then, after I married, our children enjoyed camp, too. After being campers for many years, they worked on the staff. Joanne was a waitress and John worked from the time he was 16 until he got married, serving as lifeguard and later counselor. We all grew to love camp and the Gardiners.



RUDY JOSENHANS

I was a camper that first year at Brant Lake. My family used to go to Liberty Corner on a regular basis, but somehow I wound up at Pilgrim Camp in 1946. I was 17 at the time, and I suppose the campers were allowed to be a little older then.

My recollections are a little vague, and the years seem to run together. I do recall some tidbits. I remember Arthur Waldvogel playing his trumpet in the morning to wake everyone up. He played in the meetings, too. I had brought my fiddle along, and Caroline would play the piano. We had good meetings with lots of praise. I especially remember a good meeting we had on Watch Rock one night.

We used to swim across the lake with rowboats following us. Sometimes we would canoe down to Horicon and then get out on shore and walk to the general store for an ice cream. One year we played softball against the fellows from Horicon. There were always plenty of mosquitos at camp, even back then. Another thing that sticks out in my mind is Brother Karl Sailer driving pretty fast in his truck back and forth to town. I guess it was safer in those days, because there weren't that many cars on the road.



SARAH GERBINO KLAUS

It was June, 1946 and I was looking to spend some time in the summer home of a school chum. Edith Waldvogel approached me after Sunday school with a message from Sister Caroline Gardiner, who was at the time in Brant Lake. A place in the Adirondack Mountains had been purchased, and workers were needed. Would I be interested? I really wanted to spend time with my friend, but I knew in my heart what the Lord wanted me to do.

The beauty of camp was breathtaking. One of my first jobs was waitressing. When it rained during the serving time, you had to run with trays from the kitchen to the dining room. When the dining room became crowded with guests, tables were put on the porch both in the front and on the side. After waitressing, I either washed or dried dishes. In the evening, I was a part-time junior counselor, taking care of the younger girls in the Boathouse.

The following year, when the Palace was built, I counseled full time under Sister Margaret Michelsen. Eventually I became the head counselor for a number of years. I can still hear the girls singing and praising the Lord in the upstairs chapel room. Such wonderful memories come back to me of the Palace days.

I spent the entire summers of 1946 and 1947 at camp. I often think of the choice I had to make that first summer. If I had chosen to go through with my own plans, I wonder if God would have been able to lead me where He wanted me? 1946 was the year I made a consecration to follow Jesus into Christian work. I will always thank the Lord for the privilege of going to camp and finding Jesus in a greater way.



GORDON P. GARDINER
Diary Excerpts

FEBRUARY 1946

(5) Betty Schilly, Anna Hahn, Elsie Keller graduate...

MARCH 1946

(25) HW left for California... (26) Left for Lake George with Edwin and Edith and Karl Sailer... (27) Scouted around... (28) Prayed this a.m. for definite guidance. Lord marvelously led us to Brant Lake property... (29) Went over to Brant Lake again. Dealt with the real estate man.

APRIL 1946

(2) Had dinner with Karl and Edwin. Discussed matters... (4) Saw Mr. Miller, lawyer, today about forming a corporation to hold Brant Lake property... (5) Edwin told GAW [Gottfried A. Waldvogel]. We again?all of us?committed the matter to the Lord... (10) HW returned from California late this afternoon... (11) After dinner, HW, Edwin, Arthur and I left for Chestertown. Arrived there about 9:30. Had several good discussions on the way... (12) This a.m. we all went out to view the property on Brant Lake with Mr. Stevenson. HW said little, but seemed to like it. HW and I returned this afternoon by plane so that I could get started on paper. Worked this evening late. It was a beautiful trip down the Hudson. We could see Hyde Park and the crowd of cars gathered for today's activities there when the estate was turned over to the U.S. and Truman spoke... (15) About 5 HW, Edwin, Edith, Karl, Carol and I met to discuss purchase of camp. It was decided... (16) Called Stevenson... (18) HW took me to dinner to discuss camp with me... (23) This evening "the board" met for prayer re camp. We decided to incorporate under the name of Pilgrim Camp. Also, HW and GAW are to be invited to join us as members.

MAY 1946

(3) This a.m. we received a copy of the letter sent to Stevenson re Freedman property... (13) Decided to leave for Brant Lake. Just a little after 7, Edwin, Karl and I left. Stayed at Albany "Y"...

(14) Left Albany for Glens Falls a little after 9. The Lord made so real to me this a.m. Psalm 19. Had dip at Y in Glens Falls. Visited Finch & Pruyan [and] Health Office. Then on to Chestertown. Made inventory of furnishings. Then over "abandoned road" to Padan Aram road to see Hutsteiners and Steves and back again... (15) Quite a wonderful day in seeing the Lord's appointments. The health inspector came and went with us to camp. Charles Hofflander here from Okinawa... (17) Today I signed the contract for purchasing the Daniel B. Freedman property now known as Camp Watch Rock, Brant Lake, New York. Paid $1,000 [down]... (18) Had conference with Edwin and Edith and Karl re camp dates, camp rules, etc. Very good. Early this a.m. it came to me, "the government is upon His shoulders." The Lord is impressing me more and more that it is His camp.

JUNE 1946

(10) HW, Wally and Betty Schilly left for Kenosha today... (12) Miller called. We have to get consent of trustees for use of [term] "affiliated with RPC"... (14) At meeting tonight, GAW explained about camp... (19) Chuck Hofflander arrived this a.m... (26) Went to purchase rafts.

JULY 1946

(1) With men?impossible. With God, all things possible. By the exceeding goodness of God we were able to purchase this afternoon the property on Brant Lake for Pilgrim Camp. Some day!... (3) Busy packing all morning. Left NYC about 2:20 with Al Horn, Anna Hahn, Gritli, Carol and myself. Fine trip. Stayed in Warrensburg... ( 4) Rose early and came to camp. Arrived about 9. Started to clean at once. Did a good job in den and main lodge. Johnnie and Lilly, Ernie and Ann here visiting. Edwin, Karl, Ronald Onkes, Alfred, Arthur, Charles H. complete the gang... (5) Alfred and I went to Albany to see about the rafts, express, etc. Then to Speculator where I had a fine visit with the R[idgewood] folks. At camp tonight we had a marvelous prayer. Johnnie testified to real help. God put His name in this place as never before. Tony and Lilly arrived today... (6) The B's and Edith left this a.m. This afternoon Karl and Al Horn. Worked on beds, especially some in Camp Belle. Mr. Josenhans called today... (7) This day a blessed one of rest. And how we all needed it! Good evening service. Tony and Lilly left today... (8) More work on beds. Joe Schilly and Theodore G. came back with Karl... (9) Got our room straightened out. It is beautiful...

(10) Alfred and I went to Albany and Vorheesville today. Filed sugar rationing application. Got three life rafts. When returned to camp found the refrigerator installed. Swept front porch and arranged [it]. The lodge (main room) arranged today. First meal tonight in Freedom Lodge...

(11) Truly it has been wonderful how the Lord has worked. Today the chlorinator came and was installed. I cleaned downstairs of boat house. Carol washed. Gritli, Anna Marie and Anna H cleaned the little house [Cottage]...

(12) Had good prayer for the camp tonight when we all got together for that purpose. Alfred and Herman DePold arrived this afternoon. Jack B. brought Mrs. Sailer and the children...

(13) At our first worship period tonight, Edwin gave [a verse] for the camp. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. The boys arrived irregularly today...

(14) Good Sunday school. Hard sledding at night. In afternoon truck took most of us to Fort Ticonderoga...

(16) Today the telephone was installed...

(17) Fellows on hike to Pharaoh Mountain and Lake...

(18) HW and the Fosters arrived this evening in time for worship. God spoke wonderfully about how He had put His presence here and would keep it here as long as we kept it "holiness to the Lord." Later the Lord spoke of how He wanted this spot on earth to be a "vestibule of heaven" and a place where there will be a foretaste of heaven?where there is no sorrow...

(19) Another wonderful meeting tonight. The fruits of it were best seen when after it [unnamed person] returned two swords and a dagger which he had stolen and had hidden in the woods...

(20) One cesspool (large) finished today?and the middle one almost. HW left today. God certainly has met us...

(22) [One of the fellows] came this afternoon to air the grievances of the boys. Their troubles and difficulties simply mean this: is this place to be run as a summer resort, every man doing that which is right in his own eyes? Or is it to be a camp where all comply with the routine of camp life?...

(23) God has marvelously cleared up the difficulties here in camp. Had a good talk with --- tonight and believe our differences have largely been resolved. Swam over and back across the lake...

(24) Good evening worship. Martha P., Elisabeth L. and Frieda N. came over for a few hours today from Camp of the Woods. HW and Edith arrived late tonight. The fill has begun here and two mishaps. The big cesspool (one wall) caved in. The middle one?parts of two walls...

(25) Excellent day. State health inspector here. Many of our principles confirmed: no swimming alone; a life guard not required, but supervision required; be very careful about kitchen and dining room; no open garbage...

(26) O God, give me love. I feel my lack of it so greatly. Under pressure, when there is danger of trouble, I so often become hard. Difficult to express. But, O God, keep me very sweet. Had a very successful hot dog roast tonight on Watch Rock...

(27) The exodus [of the first group of campers] began early this a.m. [More] arrived in the afternoon. A lively bunch. In between we all cleaned house...

(28) Edwin conducted a fine Sunday school in the morning. In the afternoon, Chuck and I took the boys on a hike?perhaps 3 or 4 miles one way. My feet took a beating, but it was worth it. Fine evening service. Edwin did well. Several went into library to pray?Mary Gray, Ruth Pollack, Janet M. and Billy Cooper. Great presence of the Lord there. Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldst believe?



AUGUST 1946

(10) Well, the children left this a.m. and the girls arrived. What a change! I am relaxed though tired. Other observations from these two weeks: Not such a long rest period; and not such a large crowd. Our crowd was too large this time for our staff and facilities. Smaller numbers in a room and in a house mean less trouble and a better spirit...Good meeting tonight...

(11) Had quite an experience here with people having lice. HW showed Gospel film in evening. Meades here...

(19) Read Fred, Marie and Me tonight to the campers...

(24) Girls left this a.m. ...

(26) Jackie H. and Joe S. arrived today. Mr. & Mrs. GAW came, Alfred and Stanley. HW came too...

(28) Today we visited Brant Lake Camp?much to our profit. We find that for a camp, we have been much too lenient?not strict enough.

SEPTEMBER 1946

(1) A day of rest?first since camp opened. Wonderful meeting tonight. GAW gave one of his very best ever...

(2) It is not wise for anyone to stay here too long unless he has the vision of the work. He gets careless, natural, at home...

(3) I failed by not acting in love?by not rejoicing always...

(5) HW sent money and word to have his Kodak cared for...

(16) HW here. Arthur still quite sick from leg infection...

(18) Edwin, Edith, Carol and I had good talk with HW about camp...

(19) Wally, Nina, Bob, Milton and HW left today...

(20) I think this is the most perfect birthday I have ever celebrated. I had so many of my close friends with me?Edwin and Edith, Paul and Jo, Janice and Paulie, Chuck, Arthur and Gordon Waldvogel, Gritli and Elisabeth Lindau. Edwin prayed that I would know the Lord as my portion, remembering that the Levites had no portion on earth...

(24) Bob, Arthur, Elisabeth Lindau and GAW left today. Busy closing up...

(26) Tonight we went to revival at Wesleyan Methodist Church...

(27) Chuck, Gritli, Carol and I left for bus and New York about 9:45. Rest to follow by car. And so camp is closed.


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