Camp Peniel occupies an 8 acre site on the eastern shore of Cedar Lake in Yarmouth County, NS. The property was purchased by the Yarmouth County Association of Baptist Churches in 1961. Men volunteered to clear the land and erect camp buildings. During its first year, several Sunday Schools and youth groups used the camp site.
In 1962, a 100' lodge was built on the plateau overlooking the lake. Large picture windows lead to a glorious view of the lake and grounds. A grand fireplace was built from beach stones in the centre where campers of all ages still gather for services. Construction was supervised by Andrew Porter of Hebron. Arthur Allen, Wilfred Thurston, Clarence Rose, and Malcolm Lutes headed the roster of carpenters. At one time, the number of volunteers swelled to 75 strong, but even with all the help, the deadline of July 1st was unable to be met. Two camps were cancelled, but the boy’s camp was held with fifteen boys in attendance. At the first camp, the boys had to bring their own mattresses and bunk down on the floor.
Sunday, June 23rd, 1963 was the Camp Dedication with 500 people in attendance. The speaker for that great occasion was Rev. J.B. Wilson who was the Field Secretary of the Board of Christian Education for the Atlantic Baptist Convention. The dedication was the first drive-in service held at camp for a tradition that held for years before the opening of the first camp.
Two dormitories were built in 1964 to house 24 campers, plus staff. The buildings are 45' x 18' in size. In 1988, four new small dorms (10' x 10') were constructed to house 8 campers each. These were placed in a semicircle across from the main lodge. These are now used as offices and the tuck shop.
1997 was the year major renovations were done because of the large increase in camper attendance. The previous year, many children had to sleep in borrowed tents from the Canadian Army. The need was seen by the people, and a new dorm housing 24 campers and 4 staff was built. This was an insulated building that would do for our cooler spring and fall events.
The same year saw a shop built as well as new washrooms with hot showers. All these buildings are wheelchair accessible to those who have special needs. It was a very busy spring, but all was usable for that camping season. In 1999, a director’s cottage was added to the site, and in 2004 Hatfield House, measuring 16’ x 20’ and including a full basement, was added. When 2006 arrived, the construction of a two-storey waterfront building was completed to house waterfront materials and staff.
There have been many new activity additions since the beginning: a 30’ climbing and repelling tower, a water trampoline, the RockIt, canoeing, outdoor education, sling shots, rockets, outdoor cooking, art & sketching, a slip-‘n’-slide, trampoline, music & drama, a zipline, special sports, archery, mega board games, and many others as the demands arise.
The year 2004 saw a record of 485 campers come throughout the summer. This was due to a former staff member raising funds to send over 50 children from low income families to camp.
Many volunteer hours have been contributed to almost every project at the camp during its history, and the Board of Directors works very hard at meeting the needs of guests of every age.
Written by the late Clarence Rose.
This document has been edited for this purpose.