The Story of Camp Del-Haven
Camp Del-Haven had its beginning in the summer of 1952. Rev. Don Carpenter had seen a need to share the Gospel with children in the Kansas City area and saw an opportunity to take children out through the cooperative efforts of law enforcement and social agencies. It was through much testing and prayer of Rev. and Mrs. Carpenter, and some help from a few close friends, that they conducted their first camp session at Gray Rock near Little Blue. There were twenty-one boys gathered for the first camp who were taken out of a development for displaced families in the flood of 1951. There were problems mounting among the juvenile population in this area at that time. There were four more camping sessions conducted that same summer. The group of men who volunteered as staff formed the organization known as Del-Haven, Incorporated of Kansas City, MO, a ministry that is recognized by State and Federal authorities as a qualified non-profit organization to help delinquent and underprivileged children. “Turning Kids from Crime to Christ” became Del-Haven’s mission.
The ministry carried on into 1953 with the organization renting various facilities that they could find available. Del-Haven’s efforts to share the Gospel with young boys was hailed by ministers and law enforcement who saw this ministry as an answer to social problems in the area. Thus, Del-Haven began to think in terms of some place to settle as a permanent location. There was much prayer and thought given to the matter. The Lord prompted a local business man to give the organization $1,000 to find an adequate location. Ultimately 40 acres of available land were purchased.
There were no roads or facilities, only acreage of dense timber and rocks. A small lake was built on the property to begin the camp. Groups would go to the site working with axes, hatchets, etc., and managed to clear an area which now contains the heart of the camp facilities and operation. As a humble beginning, a dining hall and three spacious cabins were built. It was here where full time operations began in the summer of 1956. Some of the sessions were quite turbulent, but with God’s overruling providence and the ingenuity of some devoted staff members, some real victories were evident in young lives. Some of the changes were far reaching in their impact.
In 1964, at the insistence of the Carpenter’s only daughter, girls were included in the camping schedule. The first camp of girls was made up of sisters and friends of the fellows who had been campers.
There has never been a charge for any child to come to camp. The camp is supported only by friends and churches who share the desire to see these children come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. The current Board of Directors meets on a monthly basis and is responsible for making all financial decisions for the ministry. The members of the Board also serve at Del-Haven in other various ways. Several Board members personally see to the areas of maintenance around the campgrounds, other members help with the overall ministry operations, and then there are some who give of their time to work with the children in the camping and retreat programs.
In the last few decades the Lord has also directed Del-Haven to minister to the surrounding community by co-hosting “Glory of Christ” Bible Conferences that are held in supporting churches. It is because of the Lord’s direction that Del-Haven has seen a need to minister to the community and also to continue to minister to the children who come to camp.
In 2003-2004, the Del-Haven Memorial Chapel was built so that the children who come to camp are able to have a place, set apart from recreation areas, where they can come before God in a more secluded, focused location. Through the prayers and gifts of individuals and organizations that were led of His Holy Spirit to help our ministry, the $50,000 building loan for Del-Haven Chapel was paid in full in the Spring of 2005. The Chapel is now frequently used as a place for Bible study and worship for friends of Del-Haven and those who live in the surrounding area.
The Lord has greatly blessed Del-Haven over the years and it is our prayer that He will continue to bless this ministry as we seek to proclaim the Gospel of the Glory of Christ to the young people who so desperately need a savior.