Camp Chamisall is a ministry of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, located at the foot of the Canadian Rockies. ("Chamisall" is an abbreviation of CHristian And MISsionary ALLiance). Our mission is to impact lives and challenge each individual to follow Christ in a unique, safe and caring environment. Every summer we offer 8 weeks of camp for students in grades 3-12, run entirely by volunteer staff.
Timeline of Major Events
- 1961: Humble Beginnings
- 1969: Miracle in the Waiparous
- 2005: Building for the Future
- 2011-Present: Celebrating 50+ Years of Ministry
Humble Beginnings in 1961
Back in the Fall of 1960 a few men got together to consider the possibility of the Alliance Church of Calgary, operating a summer camping program. As a result of the initial discussion and planning, a one week camp program got underway in the summer of 1961. It was a great success.
The first week of camp was held at the campground of the Mission Covenant Church at Pigeon Lake, Alberta. (This site site no longer exists). After our initial try at "Youth Camp ’61", we moved on to bigger and better things, eventually renting the camp facilities of the Canadian Sunday School Mission at Gull Lake, which we used for several years. It was during this time at Gull Lake that we became known as "Camp Chamisall".
From our humble beginnings in 1961, each successive summer became better than the previous. Through 1961-1968, approximately 980 campers attended, with more than 290 staff volunteering. Little did we know that these numbers, as great as they are, were to be dwarfed by what was about to happen ...
The Summer of 1969: Miracle in the Waiprous
Soon, several key people involved with Chamisall became convinced that we needed our own camp facility. The timing for such an idea seemed all wrong, however, as both of our foundational church partners at the time - Foothills Alliance and First Alliance - were busy launching new building campaigns. There was no extra money anywhere.
Despite this, God said, "Go Ahead". After all, He owns the "cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10-11) and money is no obstacle to Him! So, where did the financing come from to secure our own land? Somehow a few dollars here and there from hundreds of individuals soon became enough, until we were able to secure a 20-year lease on what is now our current location: a 12 acre site in the Bow-Crow forest reserve, about 100 km Northwest of Calgary. The cost? One dollar per year. It was the summer of 1969.
Many stories could be told of the hours of planning that went into the Main Lodge. At the time, it was estimated that the construction would cost $6,000. We had about $30 in our bank account. We bought the material on credit and started construction, without knowing where the money would actually come from. All we knew was that God said, ”DO IT”, so we stepped out in total faith! When the summer of 1969 was over, the building was up and all of our bills were paid. This entire building project became known as the “Miracle in the Waiparous”. The Waiparous River had never seen anything like it, and it was only the beginning of many mircales to come over the years. [return to top]
2005-2010: "Building for the Future" Expansion
In 2005, we stepped out in faith again by launching a new building campagin, with the goal of renovating and expanding our facilities. '"Building for the Future" consists of 3 phases: upgrading our sewage system, building a new Recreation Centre and increasing the number of our cabins.
In 2007 we were able to complete a revamping of the sewage systems, bringing Camp Chamisall up to current standards. The sewage system was first on the list, in order to support the growth of the facilities into the years to come, and resulted in a new large playing field on the north end of Camp.
The construction of the new Recreation Centre began in 2007 and was completed in late 2009. This building not only extends the life of our now aging Main Lodge (which serves as our dining facility), but it also provides an indoor space for summer programming when the weather is less than ideal. The Rec Center consists of a full size gym, chapel, games room, new program office and tuck shop. [return to top]
2011-Present: Celebrating 50+ Years of God's Faithfulness
Over the years, God’s Blessing has been very evident. Hundreds of students and adults alike have come to know Jesus Christ in a vibrant living way because of Camp Chamisall. At present, we average around 600 campers and 250 (unpaid) staff per summer. God’s hand has moved in miraculous ways to provide us with our heated, modern facilities with one of the most beautiful settings anywhere in the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies. We are forever grateful to the hundreds of faithful people who have given of their time and money to keep this camping ministry possible. [return to top]
Thank you to Ron Carter, who compiled this record and who has dedicated his life to impacting lives and challenging individuals to following Christ through the ministry of Camp Chamisall.