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A brief history of Calvin Crest
In 1873 the California Lumber Company set up operations near here and built a flume which sent lumber to Madera. Completed in 1876, the flume was 53 miles (85 km) long. By 1907, 35 million board feet (82,000 m³) were shipped each year. Much of the timber industry was shut down with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Remnants of the industry can be seen in the old narrow gauge railroad ties and the stumps of the giant sequoia that were left behind.
Hills Speckerman, a German immigrant, homesteaded the Calvin Crest area. His first cabin was located by the current Maintenance parking lot where he planted the first apple trees, grew potatoes and bred pigs and dogs. After his cabin burned to the ground, he moved to the area known as Speckerman's Meadow. Following his death in 1909 at the approximate age of 90 years, the land reverted to the government for back taxes.
A man named Darnold owned the property after Speckerman and he built the original Ranch House. Later, Dr. Clarence Wells homesteaded 40 acres (160,000 m2) and then traded for an additional 300 acres (1.2 km²). Working as a physician to the lumber companies, Dr. Wells expanded the Ranch as well as enlarged the apple orchard and planted roses and other exotic plants.
In the early fifties, the San Joaquin Presbytery began looking for a property to purchase to establish a camping program. They had been renting the YMCA camp at Lake Sequoia. After some searching, they learned the property of Dr. Wells was for sale. The presbytery voted to purchase the 340 acres (1.4 km²) in December 1954 with the price tag of $86,000. The summer of 1955 brought the first campers to Calvin Crest. There were two one-week sessions where the campers slept on the ground in the apple orchard and swam in Bass Lake. There were 65 campers and the annual budget was $25.
In 1956, the first major building phase began when construction started on the Dining Hall and the swimming pool.
Calvin Crest designs and hosts Christian camping programs throughout the summer season. Programs are designed for third grade students through recent high-school graduates, as well as family camping programs. Calvin Crest offers High School Camp, Junior High Camp, Sherwood Camp (Fourth- Sixth Graders), Outpost, and First-timers Camp (First-Third Graders with their parents to get them ready for a camp experience without their parents in the future). Each program is organized and run by the Calvin Crest Summer Staff. Some 2500 to 3000 guests attend these summer camps each year.
From September to the late Spring, Calvin Crest hosts an Outdoor education program designed and taught by the Calvin Crest Outdoor Education staff. These programs are designed for fifth or sixth grade students.