The new campsite would be geared to serve primarily teenagers, families, church groups and other Christian organizations and was to become a year-round facility that would maintain the high spiritual standards of the WBCA. The summer program was to focus on junior high age and older.
Site Development work was begun in the summer of 1978. A work camp program was launched that invited older teens to help develop trails and clearing of camp sites along with an inspirational program. In the summer of 1979 outpost camps were launched offering junior high campers an opportunity to begin their camp experience at Winkler Bible Camp and then spend 4 days at the new Pembina Valley Bible Camp site. George & Pam Bock were the first outpost counselors who lead a boys’ and girls’ cabin group on this new adventure. Brent Ankrom & Rob Reimer were Junior Counselors that 1st summer. Rob went on to direct Winkler Bible Camp and Brent became program director at both Winkler Bible Camp and Pembina Valley Bible Camp and years later became the first full-time executive director of Pembina Valley Bible Camp & Retreat Centre. It’s interesting to see how a new generation of camp leadership has emerged from those who were instrumental in the beginning of this new camp. George & Pam Bocks 4 boys (Philip, Steve, David & Timothy) all have had their camp experiences at Pembina Valley Bible Camp as campers and grown up to provide excellent leadership. Dave & Linda Penner’s son Curtis has also given a number of summers of leadership at PVBC.
Rudy Friesen was hired on as architect to design the main lodge for the Pembina Valley Bible Camp. The one major drawback to continued development was the lack of an adequate source of water and the inflationary ’80’s. The board could not see to continued development until there would be a good source of water supply. So in some ways it seemed like a death of a vision. The WBCA continued to operate the camp for several more summers but then closed the camp due to lack of vision.
But God had placed the vision of the Pembina Valley Bible Camp in the heart of a young camp leader and former camper, Brent Ankrom. He felt God’s call to come and revisit the original plans and bring new vision and focus out of the original founding vision. Brent & Arlene Ankrom came on to serve the camp as executive director from 1994 to February 2004. Arnold Wiebe served as Pembina Valley Bible Camp Chairman and gathered a number of other men to provide board leadership. The decision was made to separate from the WBCA and run the camp as a totally separate non-profit organization. Gil Klassen was also hired as camp maintenance and caretaker and continues to give leadership in that area and to the horsemanship program. Under Brent’s leadership, the committed service of many people and the Lord’s blessing the camp grew and developed and has been instrumental in turning hearts toward God – reaching many people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Camp again stands at the crossroads of needed building expansion to accommodate the growing needs of people it serves. God’s faithfulness in the past is what gives confidence for the future.
-submitted by Ted Goossen, former executive director of Winkler Bible Camp Association 1975 – February, 1985