Bingle Camp at Harding Lake popular youth spot
A number of summer camps can be found in Alaska.
Kings Lake Camp at Wasilla is operated by the Salvation Army and has been in operation since about 1940. Information can be found at www.kingslakecamp.salvationarmy.org. It is attended by many children from Southcentral Alaska. Congregation Beth Shalom at 7525 East Northern Lights Blvd. offers days camps for children age 5-12 weekly from now through Aug. 24. Information is available at 337-1672.
One camp, named for its founder, a man with a long history of ministry, is Bingle Camp, operated by Presbytery of the Yukon, located at Harding Lake, near Fairbanks. The camp was the vision of Rev. Bert J. Bingle who came to Alaska in 1928 with his wife Mabel. He was assigned to establish a church at Cordova to minister to people constructing the Copper River and Northwestern Railroad. The project was designed to serve the copper mines at Kennecott, bringing ore to the port at Cordova for shipment to smelters Outside.
With the veins beginning to be worked out, the mine was temporarily closed in 1932 and finally shut down in 1938. It since has been made a National Historical Landmark.
In 1935, the Bingles learned that the Matanuska Colony was being prepared to receive 200 families from the depressed Midwest. They decided to move there, arriving just a few days before the first colonists arrived. On that Sunday, they held worship services for 35 people, using the project engineer’s tent as a sanctuary. They continued to serve the Palmer community until shortly before World War II broke out.
Moving to Delta, Bingle built a log church and acted as chaplain to the soldiers building an airfield, then served as chaplain to soldiers building the Al-Can Highway. He also traveled along The Alaska Railroad, ministering to settlements on that route.
During that time, Bingle came onto Harding Lake and found it to be a good setting for a summer camp. He arranged to have a claim filed in the name of the Presbytery and the camp was established. A road was pushed through to provide access.
The camp now has a number of cabins and a spacious main lodge. Facilities are open to all denominations and the lodge can be rented for special occasions.
Their schedule for 2018 has been published. Camps are scheduled for varying age groups. A first-time “Base Camp” for grades 1-3 is scheduled for June 15-17. A parent may attend along with the camper, if desired. Camps for grades 3-5 include Avalanche Camp (where campers are “buried in God’s love” rather than ice and snow, June 3-8; and Splash Camp June 17-22 featuring lots of swimming and water games.
Advanced camps for 6-8 or 6-9 are offered June 10-15, 24-29 and July 15-20. A Night Glacier Camp for grades 9-12 is scheduled for July 8-13.
Many different summer camps are available for a wide number of interests, from sports to fine arts, for children and adults. A comprehensive listing prepared by the Anchorage Daily News can be found at www.adn.com/summer-camps.
Lee Jordan has been an Alaskan since 1949, moved to Chugiak in 1962 and in 2016 moved back to Anchorage. An Alaska history buff, he enjoys writing about the place where he did not want to be sent, but came to love. He has written four books on Alaska history and has a blog at www.byleejordan.com. To reach Lee Jordan, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.