The Firs Camps & Retreats
Campers sit on the steps of the old Firs Dining Hall.
Old sign at The Firs
Our History – the Beginning
With a desire to use what God had given them for His purposes, Otis and Julia Whipple gathered a group of 35 people at their property overlooking Lake Whatcom in Bellingham, Washington, for a five-day retreat. Their purpose during that July week in 1921 was to “meet the Lord and strengthen the ties of an extended spiritual family”. They probably couldn’t have imagined what was to follow: an unbroken string of camp and conference activity that has spanned many decades and grown into a multi-site, multi-program organization now called The Firs.
Held together by the faithful efforts of 18 core individuals, The Firs became an official, incorporated non-profit entity in June 1927. It was called, initially, the Lake Whatcom Bible & Missionary Conference and for almost 35 years, flourished at its original Retreat Center site. In the summer of 1954, a group of 30 junior high campers paddled along the shores of Lake Whatcom to a beautiful camp site they called “White Sands”. With permission from the owner, the first week of resident youth camp took place on this 80-acre site that soon became known as Camp Firwood. In 1955, with its 4,500 feet of pristine shoreline, Camp Firwood was purchased for $35,000. What a tremendous act of God, as this expansion of The Firs ministry would soon become a fully developed summer youth program.
Just weeks after the purchase of Camp Firwood, The Firs was contacted by the Mt. Baker committee of the Bellingham Chamber of Commerce and asked if it would like to build a private ski lodge on Forest Service land at Mt. Baker. As a testament to God’s blessing and the faith of godly leadership, The Firs went ahead. Within three years, the four-story A-frame Chalet was completed and The Firs now existed on three distinct and unique camp sites.
Thus began a period of growth and expansion at all three locations of The Firs. In 1960, the Fircreek Day Camp program kicked off at the Retreat Center site. Churches and other organizations began renting The Firs’ facilities for camps and retreats, and ministry partnerships were soon established.
In response to a growing suburban community and a need for child care, in 2001 The Firs began the After School Adventure program at the Retreat Center. The Firs ministries to school age children now operate 12 months out of the year.
The Firs is a Story of Faith.
Throughout our history, we have had a sincere desire to see people of all ages come away to experience the biblical message of Jesus in a camp and retreat setting. It is a story of faithful people acting in obedience to God and committed to God’s Word. It is where The Impact Is For Life!