After 38 summers of active camp ministry, Bill Abeler has announced that he will retire as Camp Lebanon’s Executive Director on December 31, 2024. Understanding that the transition could take up to twelve months, Bill promised the Board he would give them a full year notice and this he has done.
Now 65, “Bobber Bill” was 28 when he and his wife and full-time ministry partner, Lisa, were handed the keys back on April 1, 1986. Ronald Reagan was President and public domain internet was still seven years away. On site, a single phone line rang into a small office in the back of the Main Hall, an old mimeograph cranked out program materials, and the Chalet Loft was Camp’s premium housing.
Much has changed in the world and for Camp, but under the Abelers’ leadership, the primacy of proclaiming a biblical Gospel has remained central. To expand the outreach, events were added for families, parent-child, senior adults, quilters, student leaders, young adults, and children’s clubs as the ministry grew from 2,838 year-round guests (644 youth) in 1986 to over 12,000 in 2023 (1,859 youth). Seventeen major construction projects and seven land acquisitions later, Camp is positioned for a new era of growth as the gym comes on line and new dreams grow for a second site on the North 40.
In the search for a new Executive Director, an experienced Camp Board has retained two consultants to help clarify priorities and to recruit the right kind of leader. In the meantime, Bill and Lisa, along with a dedicated Camp team, will be busy with full sessions to lead, big projects to complete (gym and staff duplex renovation!), and an exciting new year of ministry to launch.
“Lisa and I have been privileged to have had front row seats to witness the hand of God on this amazing place called Camp Lebanon,” Bill wrote in his retirement announcement. “We love Camp and promise to do our best to partner in a successful transition.”
Board President, Mark Waller, stated in the Board’s announcement, “It is impossible to thank Bill and Lisa enough for all that they have done for the Lord through their nearly 38 years of service to Camp Lebanon. Please keep the Board, the Abeler family, and Camp’s Staff in your prayers over the next year as we seek the Lord’s guidance in this process.”
Updates on transition progress will be made in future editions of the Camp Bell and on Camp Lebanon’s blog!