The first youth retreat happened in 1941 with the cost of the weekend event being fifty cents! Many children and youth who came in the early years remember fondly their times of sleeping in the hayloft of the large Dairy Barn! As well, right from the beginning the was emphasis placed on campers and staff growing in their relationship to Jesus Christ!!
THE SECOND RETREAT AND THE PURCHASE OF THE LAND
In 1942 a second retreat was planned at the Rosthern 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.
On February 9, 1943, J.C. Schmidt sent a letter to the Federal Agriculture Minister James Gardiner requesting the 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. Their 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. Through prayer, the Youth Farm Complex was born!
God 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.
1960 - 1980
After 25 years of working at the Mennonite Youth Farm Complex, Henry Friesen wanted to set up a permanent Summer Camp Program, in 1965 it was started with the help of the Rosthern Mennonite Church. In the 1970s the Truth for Youth prayer meetings that was based at the Mennonite Nursing Home had a large impact at the camp as many of the youth whose lives were changed at the Prayer Meetings worked at camp in summer.
1980 - 2000
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.
2000 - PRESENT
Since 2001, we have year round staff and have seen the summer program grow in number of campers and staff. As well, rentals and off season activities have increased rapidly. Some exciting programs have been building houses in Mexico, the introduction of a Corn Maze at camp, new bathrooms and additional staff housing, the growth of the Petting Zoo, a Climbing Wall and a new chapel/office/retreat room facility. Above all else, we desire to see God’s Kingdom grow here on Earth!!