by Allison F. Staples
(With some help from some Deer Island friends)
To the best of my knowledge, Bayview Christian Camp was the brainchild of my father-in-law, Medford A. Conley, and David Haddon. Of course there were others involved in the planning and establishment of the camp.
In the winter of 1961-62 a series of meetings was held involving board members of five of the Churches of Christ in New Brunswick. The purpose of those meetings was to reach agreement on the purchase of property in Northern Harbour, Deer Island, from Gerald and Hazel Simpson as a site for the camp. The purchase was completed on May 28th , 1962. Trustees were appointed from each of the participating congregations. They were Dean Calhoun, for the Burtts Corner Church of Christ, Clair MacFarlane for the Back Bay church, Preston Dines for Letete, DeCosta Young for Leonardville, and Herbert Stuart for Lord’s Cove. It was from these meetings and the resulting land purchase finalized on May 28th, 1962, that the name Bayview Christian Camp emerged.
One “dish” that was served at least once during each camp was an old Deer Island delicacy called “fried bread. “ Nobody could make fried bread like the Conley team, at least in this son-in-law’s estimation.
When the weather was good, all classes were held outdoors (as they probably still are), many in some area of the campground where the beautiful Passamaquoddy formed the backdrop. Then as now, one of the standout features that made the camp location unique was Chimney Rock, the silhouette of which now forms the centerpiece of the camp logo.
The camp became a reality in August of 1962, with a one-week combined camp for both junior and senior campers, under the supervision of Medford Conley, David Haddon, and Earl Ohl. The tents for that camp session were borrowed army tents.
There weren’t any nice cozy cabins for the campers back then, just tents and sleeping bags on what was sometimes the “cold, cold ground.” It can get pretty damp on the ground in a tent when the fog comes rolling in off Passamaquoddy Bay, and it usually did (and still does) at least once during a camper’s stay. Wooden platforms were built for tent floors later on, which made them a bit more comfortable. One consolation for the campers was that supervisory and teaching staff also had to sleep in tents. Some members of that teaching and supervisory staff that I remember over the years, in addition to the three ministers just named, included Gordon Weatherby and Gregory (Greg) Darke. Only the cooking staff got to sleep under cover in the big old house that served as the dining hall and indoor worship area.
Heading up the cooking staff were Medford & Fannie Conley. Medford was the chief cook for many years and Fannie was the assistant. Fannie made the rolls and donuts every day, and it took a lot of them to feed those young people, especially the boys with their voracious appetites. Volunteers from the churches in the area were always on hand to help prepare and serve the delicious meals and to wash and dry the dishes. The ladies of the Deer Island churches made the sweets and delivered them to the camp. They also took the dishcloths and dish towels home every day to wash and dry them. One relic of that time that still survives is the largest cast iron frying pan that this writer has ever seen. The Conleys were also responsible for ordering the foodstuffs for the camps. Most were obtained locally but this writer and his wife made at least one trip from Burtts Corner, in the delivery truck of Pugh’s General Store, with a truckload of groceries for the camps.