An elder at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Cobourg, Ontario, is bringing new life to a local campground she attended as a youth.
Lenie Rhebergen promotes the 89-acre Lakeshore Christian Conference grounds on the shores of Lake Ontario as a great place for family reunion camping and church group retreats.
Rhebergen’s association with the site dates back to her preteen years in the 1950s. Members of then-newly organized Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church in Trenton, Ontario, purchased the site in 1953 to give the congregation’s young people a place to go camping. Ten years later, two men became trustees of the property for the young people of the Christian Reformed churches in the region. For many years, young peoples’ societies managed the campground.
By the 1990s, the camp was in disrepair. Vandals had damaged the buildings and property taxes had been left unpaid for years. The local municipality threatened a tax auction. Church members considered selling or leasing the property.
But the surviving trustee, Engbert Rhebergen, maintained that there was still a need for a Christian conference grounds for the churches of Classis Quinte (a regional group of churches). He found a kindred spirit in his sister-in-law Lenie, who agreed to take over as campground trustee in 2007.
This summer, 135 members of Rhebergen’s extended Vreugdenhil family camped together there. A GEMS girls’ group from nearby Community Christian Reformed Church in Frankford are also using the site.
“I know the site will be ready for [campers] when they need it,” said Lenie. “Because people love this place, things get done.”