Several hundred present and former campers, counselors, staff members, board members and friends of Camp Stevens, the diocesan camp in Julian, gathered Sept. 2 to celebrate the facility’s 60th anniversary as an Episcopal camp and look forward to a new era.
Attendees honored Peter Bergstrom, executive director, and his wife Vicki, who officially retired Sept. 1 after serving the camp for 40 years, and welcomed Beth Bojarski, who arrived at the camp in mid-August to become its new executive director.
Greg Larkin, rector of St. Columba’s Church, Camarillo, and longtime chaplain and board member for the camp, was master of ceremonies for the event. Dan Rondeau, associate rector at St. Margaret’s Church in Palm Desert in the Diocese of San Diego, another long-serving board member, joined Larkin to lead a litany of prayers at the end of a presentation that honored the contributions of several generations to the camp’s ministry.
Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce of the Los Angeles diocese and Bishop Jim Mathes of San Diego both took part in the commemoration, which was also attended by Frederick Borsch, retired fifth bishop of Los Angeles. The camp is located in what is now the San Diego diocese, which was formed in 1976 from the southern part of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Camp Stevens has continued to serve both dioceses with year-round programs for children, adults, families and conference groups.
Groups of former campers representing the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, “aughts” (2001 – 2010) and the current decade presented gifts to the camp — the all-but-forgotten “Camp Stevens song”; a new tree to replace a beloved but recently removed giant that grew near the Blum Lodge; new books for the camp library — and memories of days past, including the singing of some favorite campfire songs.
Camp Stevens, which lost 12 buildings in a 2007 wildfire, continues to rebuild and improve its facilities. A new lodge at the camp, to be named in honor of the Bergstroms, is the next project; a capital campaign to raise the $900,000 construction cost, plus funds for three adjacent hermitage cabins, will begin in 2013. The funding campaign has already been given a jump start with a $450,000 gift from the Rev. Michael Kaehr, retired rector of St. John’s Church, Chula Vista, and Dr. Nancy Olmsted Kaehr.
John Horton, the camp’s administrative director and, after the Bergstroms, its longest-serving staff member, announced that an additional fundraiser has netted enough to build a patio, designed by Julian artist James Hubbell, as part of the lodge, plus a smaller version of the same patio to be installed at the Bergstroms’ new home in Julian. Horton presented the couple with Hubbell’s original design artwork for the two patios.