The History page is being built.
At this early stage there may be grammatical errors, major missing
components and the need for images. Much of the historical information
is taken from a document prepared by Tim Enander, first full-time director
of the Lutheran Bible Camp Association. We welcome corrections,
suggestions, additional stories and other names.
This story is about the early days and humble beginnings of Mount Cross Lutheran Bible Camp
in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
Beginning in the 1920’s, Lutherans had been retreating at the Christian Conference Center at Mount Hermon–a camp a few miles from the present Mount Cross. Mount Hermon did not offer much of an opportunity for youth groups to get together; it was more of a family camp. So, a group of Lutheran pastors banded together to find a place to offer more opportunities for the youth. Much of the credit for establishing Mount Cross goes to Pastor Brown.
Every year for about 25 years, the Lutherans reserved a week or two at Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz Mountains for a Lutheran retreat camp. Pastor Brown said, “The second year I was there, I made a motion to form a committee to look for a site that the Lutherans could buy. They asked me to head up the committee. If I had realized all that was entailed in that position, I doubt if I would have had the courage to accept.” On the committee were Paul Frykman, an Augustana pastor from Palo Alto as Secretary; Ross Hidy, a ULCA pastor in Berkeley; Clarence Bradley, a Studebaker dealer from San Bruno ELC; Pastor Spener Petersen, UELC Danish pastor from San Francisco; a pastor from the SUOMI Synod (Finnish); and Andy Foresberg, a used car salesman from Oakland, California. They looked at over 200 sites.
“We narrowed it down to a one-hundred acre site between Ben Lomond and Felton. It was adjacent to the highway, but set back from it. The San Lorenzo River ran by which could be used for swimming. An old fruit orchard could be leveled for a recreation field. An old, old redwood which the WRENS had used for R&R during World War II was on the property. It had a number of bedrooms, a kitchen, and a fairly large meeting hall with a huge stone fireplace. We negotiated with the real estate man who had bought it. We got him down from $90,000 to $40,000. (Note: Tim is not sure what the final purchase price was.) We sent out a flyer to all the Lutheran churches in Northern California telling about a “Picnic with a purpose.” We wanted as many Lutherans as possible in on the final decision.”
The Organizational Meeting
Pastor Brown described the key organizational meeting held at Mount Hermon in July 1947. "The 'picnic with a purpose' was in May 1948, and the grounds were dedicated to the Glory of God as a great 'Lutheran Cathedral in the Redwoods' on Labor Day 1948. The first camp was held in June 1949.
“Tim” and Vi Enander
In 1949, Tim and Vi were Luther League advisors at Trinity Lutheran Church in San Francisco. They took a unique group to camp that summer. There was the Beatty bunch: Robert, Joyce, Richard; Clint Bell, Bonnie LeRud, Robert Reusche, Wally Clevelland, Leonard Clippen, Clayton Oldaker, Vernon Faillettax, Anita Hillesland, Judy, Kay and Charles Fuller, Billy and Lillis Johnson. Pastor Brown had a great influence on these youth and may be credited to directing some to the ministry.
Things were a little primitive at Mount Cross in those early days. Besides a caretaker’s cottage and a nearby work shed, there was a woodshed and the original large roomy home called the Lodge. It was constructed of perfect pieces of redwood lumber cut from old growth redwood trees.
This area had been /logged off in the 1890’s for lumber to build San Francisco. One of those massive old growth trees stands above the San Lorenzo River where the river makes a bend. The Big Tree Trail leads to a view of this tree. Pastor Zoerb with a group of Boy Scouts made the trail.
The first Board of Directors was formed from members of each of the participating Lutheran synods which were members of the National Lutheran Council.
Harold Brown (ELC)
Orville Martin (Augustana)
Ross Hidy (ULCA)
Pastor Lehti (SUOMI)
Pastor Hilderbrand (UELC)
Pastor Beilstein (ALC)
Erhard Christiansen (Augustana)
Contractor from Palo Alto, CA
Bradley from San Bruno (ELC)
Pastor Spener Spetersen (UELC)
Chris Gjerde (ULCA)
Otto Kangas (SUOMI)
Henry Jorgensen (UELC)
Pastor Robert Konzelman (ALC)
Kenneth Kuck (ALC)
(NOTE: Names from the Fall 1951 Mount Cross Builder.)
A fine architect by the name of Okie Johnson, a member of the Finnish Church in Berkeley was given the task of preparing an overall plan for the camp. Okie was a dedicated Finnish Lutheran and he did come up with a beautiful set of plans. Churches were encouraged to place Mount Cross on the annual budget. Lutheran Brotherhood (now a part of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans) gave their support.
Most of the improvements came from volunteer working parties that came regularly to the camp to build. During the early period, the ball field and parking lots were graded. The ball field was seeded with grass, but lack of proper fertilizer and inadequate watering proved disastrous. Two shower and toilet units were built and on each side of the unit a wooden platform was constructed which was then covered with a 16 by 32 foot surplus military tent. Inside those tents were rows of double stacked army bunks with thin mattresses.
Mount Cross was not connected to any sewer line so a large septic tank and drain field had to be installed. Gus Thollander belonged to Ebenezer Lutheran in San Francisco. When the concrete was being poured for the septic tank, Gus was down in the bottom of the tank, deep in wet cement directing the pour.
“Tim” and Vi Enander enter the scene at this point of the story.
As Public Relations Director for the camp, Tim had to visit between 115 and 125 Lutheran churches in Northern California. The following were the Synods involved in founding Mount Cross–before any mergers:
ALC - American Lutheran Church which had a German background.
ELC - Evangelical Lutheran Church, with a Norwegian background.
DELC - Danish.
UELC, or Evangelical Lutheran Church, was also Danish.
Augustana (AUG) ULCS - Swedes.
United Lutheran Church of America was of German origin.
The Finnish Synod was SUOMI
The first few years of the camp were filled with financial needs and challenges. Different groups were brought forward to bring in money from individual Lutherans and group sponsors. Early work by Tim Enander proved valuable in this success.
Finally the camp was ready for business. Mt. Cross had an approved water supply, a furnished kitchen with adjoining restrooms, an adequate power supply, shower units, and tent dormitories. The Lutheran Nurses Guild had already volunteered their services without pay. Now it needed campers and a staff to run the camp.
Now Mt. Cross needed to let poeple know about the upcoming 1952 camping season.
Mt. Cross campers used to swim in the San Lorenzo River. The swimming hole was not all that big nor deep. At one time, Tim Enander and a few others tried to deepen by use of what is known as a Fresno Scraper. It has the shape of a flat scoop bucket with two handles. In the old days, these were pulled by mules or horses in the early days of building roads and rail beds for the early railroads. It did not work too well. Later, an agreement was made with the personnel at the Ben Lomond Public Pool that once a week a group of campers would hike along Highway 9 to Ben Lomond for a swim.
The pool at Mount Cross was a project taken on by the Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance Company (Now known as Thrivent) and headed up by Cliff LeRud who was the General Agent for the insurance company in the Bay Area.
The Bill Crouser Years
*Waiting for information*
by Les Hansen - camper in the 1950s
"It has been a few years since we have been [to Mt. Cross]. Being there brought back many memories and wonderful experiences I have cherished first as a Mount Cross camper (in the late 1950's), then as a father, and now as a grandfather. The attached photo taken at today's registration [July24, 2011] is of myself Les Hansen, my daughter Angela Ketcham, and my grandson Riley Ketcham. This is Riley's first camp experience and he has been very excited to finally be going to Mount Cross himself. I think he has the normal first time camper jitters, but has heard so many positive things from his Mom, our other two daughters, and me about what an amazing place Mount Cross is that he is really anxious to experience it firsthand.
"On the drive home today my wife Susan and I were reflecting on what an awesome and inspiring place God has created at Mount Cross. I was raised in a strong Christian family and believe my own faith and belief in God was shaped in part by several years as a summer camp participant at Mount Cross. How can anyone no matter what age not be confronted by the inspiring beauty and power of God's creation when there at Mount Cross?"
Mt. Cross staff found an old film and someone had it made into a DVD in early 2010. Here is some of that footage (UNDER CONSTUCTION). It appears it might be from the 1960s.
Summer 2010 - the year Bobby the Banana Slug was introduced