Six months ago (December of 2016) a small group of Camp Lebanon’s core staff team gathered around a table to discuss a design idea for a wiffleball stadium, along with the concept of using it to honor people who have invested so many years in to Camp. The design was simply a picture sketched in pencil on a sheet of paper (see photo on the right). It was given the name Legends Field, and the sketch turned into a 3D digital model which would be refined into an official construction plan that would eventually be used as the guide to build the stadium standing at Camp today (see photo below).
But the stadium didn’t just build itself…no, this project wouldn’t have been possible without the work of Camp’s staff and MANY volunteers! Snow flakes filled the air as a team of men drilled holes and cemented in the foundation pillars of the outfield wall. And that was just the beginning. Poles were set. Framing was constructed. Siding was installed. The grass was cut & rolled. The infield dirt was wheelbarrowed in, stamped down, and leveled. Bases were anchored and installed. Foul poles were welded, painted, and installed. The mezzanine deck in center field was put together. The commentary box was cut out and built in. And the railings were added. Hours and hours of time…well spent!
That leads us to the activities of the Dedication Ceremony on Memorial Day, starting with the honoring of some of Camp’s Legends. Each Legend was honored with a plaque and public recognition for their service. The following individuals were honored:
Ray & Sidney Anderson – The local connections of this father-son duo “discovered” the site that would become Camp Lebanon. Sidney served as the first President and then Superintendent of Grounds (1947-1975). As a pastor at First Baptist – St. Cloud and long-time Buildings & Grounds Chairman, Ray rallied the troops and led early site development efforts.
Herb & Millie Hazzard – As the first Director from 1948 to 1975, Herb’s program vision, statewide travels, and labors of love shaped Camp Lebanon’s personality. Millie lovingly served the Camp family in the dining hall, craft room, and canteen. Their passion for the Word of God gifted future generations with a heritage of reaching the lost for Christ.
John & Verna LaBarre – Friends of Camp Lebanon from its beginning in 1947, John and Verna encouraged the ministry through tireless service on the Board, at the shop, and in the kitchen. If it was metal, John welded it. If it was dirty, Verna cleaned it. If it meant reaching more kids for Christ, the LaBarre family whole-heartedly supported it.
Harris Hanson & Irving Larson – Life-long friends, business partners, and long-term board members, Irving and Harris helped lead the way in Camp’s founding. As a pastor in West Concord and Detroit Lakes, Irving inspired support and brought wisdom. Through his generous leadership at Cathedral Press in Long Prairie, Harris added vision and multiplied ministry.
Larry & Marj Magnuson – Through faithful servant-leadership, Larry and Marj nurtured and sustained Camp Lebanon’s ministry as the first on-site caretakers from 1974 to 1985. Larry served as Camp Manager while Marj partnered as Secretary, Registrar, and Bookkeeper. With open arms and tireless labors, the Magnusons paved the way for year-round ministries.
Linda Day – Through re-energized programs for kids and enriched leadership training for teens, Linda, as Program Director from 1992 to 2007, revolutionized Camp’s summer and winter youth ministries. Progressing from camper to counselor to core staff, Linda enjoyed, embraced, and re-invented program philosophy and outreach.
Phil Gerth – Both in title and philosophy, Phil lived and mentored “the ministry of maintenance” as Facilities Manager from 1989 to 2017. Through dedicated efforts in routine, preventative, and construction maintenance, Phil oversaw a facility transformation and outreach to volunteers that blessed guests and enabled life-changing programs.
Roger & Gail Negaard – Exuding vision, optimism, and activism, Roger and Gail keep Camp moving forward and upward. The daughter of a founder (Archie Anderson), Gail helped pioneer and develop the Quilt & Craft ministry. A long-time Board member and Building Committee chair, Roger blesses the ministry with his many connections and irrepressible drive.
Jim & Sandy Abeler – Since their first family camp in 1966, no one has cheered louder for Camp Lebanon. Jim supported the work with his hands, rocking fireplaces, replacing floors, raking concrete, and rigging irrigation. “Swimming Grandma” hugged the ministry with her heart, blessing campers with her voice, hospitality, and passion to get kids to Camp.
Next up was the inaugural first pitch! Instead of one person throwing the ball, a multitude of past & current board members fired simultaneously at Bobber Bill, who graciously played the role of catcher. Then the two captains and teams were introduced. “Crazy Pete” Mades led a team of past & current staff members from his era as Camp’s Program Director and Linda Day led a crew of former staff members from her era. After all the players had lined themselves up along the baselines, the Loomis family led the singing of the National Anthem.
Following the Star Spangled Banner, Rich Olson (current Program Director) and Monte Abeler (Marketing Guy) took over as emcees and commentators from the Legends Field Press Box. And it was GAME ON!
“Crazy Pete” and his staff team batted first. Rocky Hovda took the mound as the first official pitcher to throw during a game at Legends Field. A 15 mph wind was blowing in from left-center, keeping the wiffleball in the park for the entirety of the game. The younger staff members found some success in plating several runs before Linda’s team came up to the plate. In-between the half-innings of play, Scott Woller led the crowd in the singing of Camp’s National Anthem, “Swimming Buddy.” Following the first-inning stretch, Linda’s team began to show off its savvy veteran approach as it hit safely time and time again. The inning was highlighted by Phil Gerth hitting a triple. Despite the lopsided score, the game ended in a Camp Lebanon tie and everyone went home having had the funnest fun! We praise God for the gift of Legends Field, the huge support of all the volunteers who helped make it happen, and the significant impact made by Camp staff, legends, and friends!