For years Treva Turpin dreamed of turning the homestead of her parents, Harold and Esther Stadsvold into a camp for area children. During the 7 years Bill and Treva Turpin spent in Indonesia with New Tribes Mission, the thought of the camp ministry was pushed into the recesses of her mind. But just as certainly as sweat was beading on their foreheads in the heat of Jakarta, the thought of the children's camp ministry was about to surge into the forethought of Treva's mind upon the Turpin's return to the U.S. in 1995.
It took 2 years before the Turpin's found themselves back "home" in Brayton Iowa. God had a plan for them to experience and established camp at East Iowa Bible Camp where Bill found his place in the kitchen and Treva in the office doing administrative duties. Weekly, Treva took visits to take care of her aging parents and in 1996, Bill and Treva were offered the home and property. It wasn't until a cold January day in 1997 that they settled into 2144 310th St, Brayton IA, a place that they had called home, in a future, distant kind of way.
1997 was the year it all started at Bethany Camp. The Turpin's started planning a camp that summer. There were 9 kids, 5 boys, 4 girls and the boys were lodging in a tent with Lyle Jeppesen as the counselor. The girls were in the house, on the living room floor. The Turpin's started giving up their home to summer camps in 1997, and that continued until 2015. Operation Central is now the dining hall but that took many years to happen.
Just a few months later, in October, in order to do followup with the camp kids and draw more kids to the camp, they started an after-school program called KFC. It was not Kentucky Fried Chicken but Kids For Christ. KFC was to be a fun and educational program to teach the Bible chronologically. That first year, there were 40 children coming weekly to the KFC club. What a great way for the gospel to reach hearts!
By 1999 there were 24 kids attending camp, but that was a bad year for camp. A major storm shredded 2 of the 3 tents that the campers were sleeping in and it soaked all the sleeping bags. That year all the campers had to go home early due to "no room in the inn". Fortunately, that year money was given to begin the bunkhouse to provide needed housing.
The bunkhouse construction was started in 1999, the second floor of the bunkhouse in 2002. The bunkhouse has been a dorm, a living space for several family and an apartment for camp speakers or camp visitors.
The barn was nearing collapse and Bill Turpin had prayed for years that a big storm would take it away. It became apparent that it was needed for the camp ministry so a major rebuilding of it started in 2004 and took much of that year. It was done with many hands and volunteers from Hard Hats for Christ, neighbors and friends. God provided all the funds, labor and wisdom to see the barn restored to its former glory. The rebuilding began in the basement with the foundation and ended in the peak, what an amazing transformation.
The cabin was started in 2011 and was needed to meet the needs of a camp dorm space but also is intended as a place for anyone to use for solitude and for a meeting place with God. It is a simple place, no internet, no t.v. and currently there is no water or toilet but those are available nearby. Built with a shoestring budget, the cabin fills big shoes during camp month and is used throughout the year for Bethany's youth group meetings!
In 2014, our ministry became a non profit; our needs increased and our vision of a new facility was made a reality. A friend of the camp, William Nichols drew up the first basic plans for the dining hall but Casey Groves drew up very thorough plans and the building design represents his dreams. God has provided a debt-free building to be our dining hall. The initial construction of the shell of the building was only possible due to the kind work of a local company. Work on the interior has been largely a volunteer effort. We only purchase materials as God provides the funds, which as you can see He has truly done!
Our first Sunday in the new worship center as a newly chartered church. Bethany EFree Church rents our facility every Sunday morning. Come and join with us as we worship and serve Christ together.