by By Rachel Austen and Tarah Nimz –
VIEW FROM THE DECK of Camp Kuratli‘s dining room.
Since 1928, The Salvation Army’s Camp Kuratli, nested in the wooded slopes and green meadows of Barton, Ore., has provided a place for children and families to encounter nature and its Creator in a unique way.
Camp Kuratli celebrated its 75th year of operation this summer. The anniversary event, held in late August during family camp, brought young and old alike back to the grounds to celebrate.
Dick and Alice Hall were among the guests of honor. Camp holds a special meaning for the two of them, because if it weren’t for Camp Kuratli, they might never have met.
Dick Hall and Alice met at camp in 1945 when they were 12 years old and fell madly in love. “I called my mother on the phone from camp and I told her I’d met the girl I was going to marry,” Dick recalls. The kids professed their love by carving their initials into a tree at camp. “In those days, that was what you did to seal the deal and I wasn’t about to let her get away from me,” said Dick.
Their tree was blown down in the storm of 1964. Fortunately, Dick and Alice have lasted much longer as a couple. They’re now approaching their 50th wedding anniversary and they’re still madly in love. They live in Portland and have three grown children.
The celebration at camp included Divisional Commander Major Kenneth Hodder presenting a Salvation Army pocketknife to Dick so he could re-carve his and Alice’s initials into a new tree at camp. There was also a special dedication of a newly refurbished nurse’s station and a bell tower, made possible by generous Portland Metro Advisory Board members.
More than 1,000 kids attended camp this past summer. For many it was their first trip outside the city. Ninety-five percent attended camp on scholarship. All of them took home stories to last a lifetime.
Over the years, Camp Kuratli has been used for a number of purposes—camps for inner-city kids, outdoor schools, music camps, seminars and conferences, to name a few.
Though camp has undergone many changes in the past 75 years, the essentials have stayed the same. It is still a place where lives are changed, life-long friendships are formed and all who set foot on the grounds enjoy the beauty of God’s handiwork.