A brief History of Camp AREV
In the early 1970s, the Kessab Educational Association (KEA) secured a ground lease from the Forest Service in Wrightwood, California, and established Camp Kessab, an Armenian cultural camp. KEA had been instrumental in establishing Saturday Armenian Schools and Armenian cultural centers in the 1960s in the greater Los Angeles area.
Armenian Evangelical Churches that held retreats at Camp Kessab aspired to add a spiritual dimension to these experiences. They rented facilities in the Frazier Park area, specifically El Camino Pines campground, and began Camp AREV in 1977.
Camp AREV quickly became popular in the Armenian Evangelical community: it offered a natural setting to reach young people with the message of the gospel, and it had a Christian Armenian cultural focus.
In a short time, the Armenian Evangelical Union of North America formed a desire to acquire its own camp facility. Edward J. Manishagian informed the AEUNA that if it found a property and entered escrow, he would purchase it for the Union. In the late 1980s, The First Baptist Church of Van Nuys placed a 45-acre property in Frazier Park it owned on the market for $650,000. The property came with a CUP (Conditional Use Permit) to operate a camp. AEUNA acquired the property and began to operate Summer and Winter camps using the existing facilities: a Lodge, Caretaker Cottage, and Speaker’s Cabin.
In 1995, the AEUNA applied for and receive an expanded CUP from Kern County, in order to build additional facilities on the site.
In the late 1990s, donors were identified and two new lodging cabins were built and dedicated. Each cabin housed 40 campers, and the two new buildings increased the lodging capacity at Camp AREV from 48 to 128.
At this point, the camp’s lodging capacity exceed its meeting / dining room capacity, and although there had been a long-standing desire to place a swimming pool at camp, it became clear that the first priority had to be creating a multi-purpose room to accommodate more campers in meetings and at meals.
A capital campaign commenced in 2003 for a new structure to meet these needs. The community rallied around this ministry-driven expansion plan and the Lord blessed the camp with three new buildings: a Chapel, a Dining Hall, and an Infirmary. Ground breaking was in 2008, and the buildings were completed and put into use in early 2011.
The Camp AREV Committee is currently working on a camp Master Plan in order to situate a pool and indoor recreation center, add family-style and staff lodging with major upgrades of the original Lodge and Speaker Cabin, and centralize hospitality functions in a Welcome Center.
Camp AREV is fully owned by the AEUNA but operates with oversight and direction from the AEUNA’s Camp AREV Committee (CAC) in accordance with its bylaws. Since its establishment Camp AREV has been blessed with various directors, committee members, staff members and volunteers who have invested themselves in the camp’s ministry to introduce campers to the Lord Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their walk with Him.
The new facilities have made Camp AREV a desirable destination. It is rented to churches and Christian organizations for retreats whenever its own Winter and Summer camps are not in session. The rental program is consistent with Camp AREV’s mission to provide opportunities for campers to make a commitment to Jesus Christ and to grow in the understanding of that commitment. Rental revenues support ongoing maintenance of the camp’s buildings and property.
Camp AREV currently operates with one full-time Director, one full-time Facility Manager, and one part-time Administrative Consultant. The CAC oversees Camp AREV programs and is composed of members of the AEUNA churches in accordance with the bylaws.
The future history of Camp AREV includes a Master Plan for the property. From past to present and future, the work of Camp AREV through the CAC, staff, volunteers and the community has allowed youths, the AEUNA, and other churches and organizations to draw closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.