History (1941 - present)
the 1890s, Mennonites started settling in the province of Saskatchewan.
Then, during the 1920s, 20,000 Mennonites came through Rosthern
through the leadership of Bishop David Toews. Many stayed and
settled in this province. In the late 1930s Mennonite Leaders
had a concern for the passing of the Christian Faith to their
youth. A new group was started called the Saskatchewan Mennonite
Youth Organziation. Under the leadership of Jacob C. Schmidt,
a province wide retreat was held at the Experimental farm in Rosthern
(which had closed in 1940 due to wartime economic measures).
date for the retreat was June 13-15, 1941 and the Camp Fee for
the event was fifty cents! It was a great success with over 100
people registered from all over Saskatchewan! Although later,
in an adult conference, there was concern with too much English
language being used. Hymns were sang in English. And others complained
about singing around a campfire.
1942 another retreat was planned at the experimental farm site
and a group of 3 men - J.C. Schmidt, Henry W. Friesen, and Isaac
Epp began praying about the purchase of the land and buildings
on the yard.
February 9, 1943, J.C. Schmidt sent a letter to the Federal Agriculture
Minister James Gardiner requesting sale of the Experimental Farm
to the Youth Society. Henry W Friesen helped write the letter
and met with the Agriculture Minister in person. By September
23, 1943, a price of $20,000 was decided and the youth society
took possession of the property immediately. The prayers were
answered!! A farmer was willing to pay much more then $20,000
for the land and buildings, however, James Gardiner was impressed
by the group and pleased that they were planning to use the farm
for humanitarian causes. The buildings alone would have cost $60,000
to build. An excerpt from the first letter written is as follows
"The farm, with its buildings and surroundings proved to
be an ideal place for numerous Religious activities, e.g. Young
Peoples Retreats, Children's Camp, Singing Festivals, etc."
Through prayer, the Youth Farm Complex was born!
worked mightily at the Youth Farm Complex! His servant, Henry
Friesen had a passion to care for the needs of the poor, the sick,
the elderly and to have a strong evangelical program for children
and youth. This led to many homes being developed for the elderly,
crippled children, intellectual disabled adults, and also an orphanage.
At the same time, the farm was used for the Youth Retreat every
year and Children's camps were added to the program. Prayer was
very important for the continuance of ministry at the Youth Farm.
Prayer was considered the water under the ship, without the water,
the ship would stop.
1965, Henry Friesen felt called to develop the Children's program
at the Youth Farm to something more substantial with cabins and
a multipurpose center. Henry felt that there was a real need to
reach children for the God's Kingdom. Up until now, children were
sleeping in the hayloft and buildings that were used for the farming
operations were makeshift chapels and dining halls. A more developed
Camping program needed to be started.
1968 the Rosthern Camping Committee and the Sask. Education Committee
agreed to share in the cost of building a number of garages to
serve as cabins for the summer, and storage for the winter. In
1974 the 60' x 100' multi-purpose Quonset was built on the former
sight of a machine shed, and is used as a kitchen, dining hall,
chapel, and auditorium for the summer camping program.
years went by there have been many additions to the camping program
at YFBC. In the 1980's a program was developed for Adults with
Intellectual Disabilities. It started with one camp week and it
has grown to the current five week program with an average of
200 Adults attending each year. In 1984, the camp house was built.
This building included three suites for leadership staff and a
staff lounge in the basement. In 1990, a Wrangler was hired for
the months of June-August with the sole responsibility of working
with the horses and petting zoo. In 1991, YFBC first offered a
Teen Trail Ride with 3-4 youth signing up for the five day horse
camp. This program has grown to offer three weeks of Teen Trail
Rides with an average of thirty youth attending each year. In
1997, the YFBC board decided to build new cabins to replace the
ones on the West side of the camp. In 2002 new bathrooms and an
enlarged dining hall were added to the Quonset. In 2005 more staff
housing was developed close to the campfire pit.
have been a lot of changes to the camp over the years, but one
thing remains consent, the ministry there is with the campers
that come each year.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
10"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face
of my Father in heaven. 12"What do you think? If a man owns
a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave
the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered
off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier
about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander
off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that
any of these little ones should be lost.
This passage was the motivating factor for Henry W. Friesen to
be so heavily involved in Children's ministry. He was a tireless
worker that spent 50 years developing, fundraising and ministering
at the Youth Farm Bible Camp.