Our History: The Alpine Legacy
When Dr. Lester Pipkin moved from Minnesota to West Virginia to develop a Bible college, his vision extended to a year -round use of a campus that would include camps and conferences for the children of Appalachia. In 1960, Appalachian Bible College opened its doors for two one-week sessions of summer camp: white camp and colored camp. The cost was a mere $10.50 and free if you learned 200 Bible verses! The staff were all college volunteers and it was not unusual for one person to serve as a counselor, dish washer, and maintenance worker, all in one week.
Before long, the name Alpine Bible Camp was adopted and cabins began to dot the landscape of the north ridge of the college campus. In the mid-seventies, director Mike Wells’ vision for adventure recreation led to the inclusion of whitewater rafting, rappelling, and high ropes in the resident camp program. Soon, groups were coming for special one and two day trips. This led to the development of what we now know as Alpine Adventures. The adventure ministry has expanded from a few rafting trips a year to thousands of guests involved in high ropes course, rappelling, paintball, hiking, teambuilding, caving, and world-class whitewater rafting on the New and Gauley Rivers.
As Alpine Ministries grew, so did the demands for year-round facilities. Gilmore Center Gymnasium was added in the 80’s, followed by Alpine Lodge in the early 90’s. In 2007, an educational ministry to local schools called Alpine Outdoor Education was introduced, bringing students of all ages to Alpine’s campus for hands-on science exploration classes from a biblical creationist perspective. Outdoor Education, Adventures, and Retreat groups extend Alpine’s “busy season” to include the whole year! Today, Alpine Ministries offers a full program with resident camp, adventure programming, retreat opportunities and outdoor education field trips to over 12,000 guests annually. A unique blend of adventure programming with biblical application has become the hallmark of the program.
Looking back over Alpine’s history, we praise the Lord for blessing us with over fifty years of outstanding camp ministry!