April Fool’s 1986 was Day #1 for a young couple named Bill & Lisa Abeler (then 28 & 25) as they began organizing the “funnest fun” at Camp Lebanon for youth, families and adults. Their day started with two flat tires (no fooling!) and it’s been an adventure ever since.
The Camp Lebanon of 1986 utilized 57.3 acres and featured the Chalet, fifteen cabins (named after birds and animals), Herb’s House (rec), Long House (staff), east end showerhouse, west end bathrooms (no showers), one half-bathroom (“9½”), health center, two trailers, and the three-season A-frame chapel & shop. Attendance totaled 2,838 in 1985-86, including 644 summer youth campers.
Through their thirty-five years Bill and Lisa have cherished their front-row seats in witnessing God grow the ministry to 12,000+ year-round guests (1937 summer youth campers!) in 2019 while adding six parcels (84 acres total), twelve buildings, eight drain fields, six wells, Screaming Eagle Zipline, Legends Field (wiffleball), and a renovated Chalet and Hub. In addition to seeing growth in Camp’s traditional ministries to youth, families, and adults, they’ve also enjoyed birthing new ministries to quilters, senior adults, young adults, and rental groups.
“That thought has always struck a chord with me since we began serving at Camp Lebanon on April Fool’s Day in 1986!” Lisa reflected. “It has been a privilege to see many people choose to follow Jesus in these past 35 years. We have grown in our own walk with Christ as He has given us opportunity to study, teach, and share His Word with others. We are grateful for the joy it has been to serve at Camp Lebanon.”
Of the hundreds of hymns and choruses sung in chapels over the years, Bill and Lisa would pick one to summarize their experience. “To God be the glory, great things He has done!”