FBC Camping dates back to the late 1950’s. Merle Conklin, along with small group of Christian leaders with a vision for camping ministry began taking groups of teens for a trip to the Ozarks. The trip provided an opportunity to get away from the distractions of the world and to share about Jesus.
These early camping trips were quite successful, but unfortunately, the distance only allowed a small number to go camping. Seeking to minister to more youth in central Illinois, FBC’s founders began to investigate the possibility of starting their own camp closer to home. The Swanson family donated about 20 acres of land to be used in starting a camping ministry in the Yates City, IL area, and thus construction began on Faith Bible Camp.
There were no buildings at first, so FBC’s early years saw camping in tents, and cooking on an open fire. Opportunities for fun and learning, combined with caring volunteers still brought campers back year after year…
As members of local churches caught FBC’s vision, more and more volunteers arrived — carving out a lake, clearing grounds, and constructing cabins, restrooms, and dining facilities.
At this point, FBC offered just a few weeks of campEarly FBC Chapel activities around late June each year. Local pastors served as camp directors for their individual weeks of camp, and the direction of the camp was guided solely by the Board of Trustees and some of the founders on the Permanent Board of Directors.
By the mid-1980’s, Faith Bible Camp had grown to nearly 225 campers per summer over 4 weeks of summer camp programs. Sam Dodd, a former FBC camper, FBC counselor, and then Moody Bible student envisioned more for FBC than 4 weeks of summer camping. Hoping to see FBC grow into year-round useSam and Robin Dodd with still greater impact, Sam proposed a full-time director, and it was not long before he was invited as the first full-time camp director at Faith Bible Camp. He and his wife Robin served the Lord faithfully at FBC for many years–during which the camp grounds saw many great improvements and the camp began to offer Retreats, Quizzes, youth group meetings, and more.
In the late 1990’s, Sam felt called to a different ministry opportunity. The camp had now grown to about 275 per summer with winterized buildings, year-round programs and was just about to embark on its first overseas mission trip with a group of committed FBC High School campers and staff. The search was on for someone who could continue building the camp and remain true to the vision set by the Sam & Robin and theBoard of Trustees.
Which brings us to Twig: David Hartwig (“Twig”) grew up through the camp and had worked in Christian camping for awhile before moving onto weatherization program field work and management opportunities in DuPage county (IL), Twig heard of the opening at FBC and knew the Lord was calling him back home. Twig’s breadth of skills and heart for the vision at FBC were a wonderful fit.
Over the years, FBC has continued to enjoy a large base of volunteers commited to the camp’s ministry. Twig attributes much of FBC’s success to the unique commitment of these volunteers as they respond to the Lord’s call to be involved in the ministry at Faith Bible Camp — a ministry that now sees both local and international impact through its ongoing international mission trips