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Fishcamp History

HIGHLIGHTS OVER THE YEARS

The concept of a Man’s Outdoor ministry Retreat in Alaska formed as a dream after leaving a wonderful seven-years in the Great Northland.

The first Fishcamp began along the Deep Creek River in Ninilchik with two father and son teams in tents. A local pastor spoke around the fire pit and food was cooked over an open fire pit.

  • Our 2-acres of land was purchased on the Ninilchik River with a rustic cabin and electricity on the South shore. The river ran in the middle, splitting the parcel, with access from the county bridge on Brody Road. The purchase could not have been possible without the help of Brad Wille and his contribution to the vision ahead. 
  • Volunteers came to help work on the cabin to make it habitable.
  • We used an outhouse and hauled drinking water from the spring in the village.
  • The land was dedicated to Gods work at a camp fire ceremony led by Pastor Gordon Hay of New York, father of Pastor Chris Hay of Kenai, Alaska as the local caregiver. Chris Hay and others used the cabin for personal and church retreats even before there was running water and only an outhouse.
  • The Knepper Family spent two weeks working the land, fishing and hosting local guests to a camp fire and meals in the tiny cabin. 
  • The cabin was remodeled each summer by volunteers and family members and open for use to local church families and groups.
  • A pump was installed in the existing shallow well and we now had running water for the kitchen and an outdoor shower.
  • All meals were cooked in the Cabin Kitchen.
  • The Bunkhaus was built and would sleep 4-6 additional persons.
  • We could now sleep a group of 10+ using the attic, cabin and bunkhaus.
  • Camp record #195 halibut was caught by angler Mike Roghair.
  • The Bathhaus was built onto the back of the cabin.
  • We now had running water, hot shower, two-restrooms, sinks and a washer/dryer.
  • Groups of fathers and sons were now hosted and would pack out our camp.
  • A Gun Safety course was sponsored by a local gun shop for boys of the camp.
  • Evening campfire messages by Col. John Schumacher became a mainstay.
  • Company retreat for Carol Electric Company of men were hosted.
  • The Tenthaus platform and tent was built to handle 4 more beds next to the river.
  • We could now sleep 15+ and feed guests on the deck and around the campfire, as well as in the cabin
  • Company retreat for Blasted Wood Products mixed group of employees.
  • Guest Missionary from Japan, Cecil O’Dell lands a #175 halibut with James Ledbetter, lodge engineer.
  • Guest Missionary from Japan, Cecil O’Dell lands a #175 halibut with James Ledbetter, lodge engineer.
  • Dads for Lads begins with first young man, Carlos Silva

  • Roadtrip: The green Ford Aerostar was driven up the Alcan highway by three young men, Json Knepper, Tad Millane and Jimmy Marinow.
  • A fish smoker was donated and our old freezer smoker was taken to the dump.
  • The Cabin lawn was installed by a team of volunteers.
  • Dads for Lads continues with Brian Eng.
  • Jeramy Knepper lands a #145 Halibut.
  • The camp video was shot with Pastor Ed Jackson by George Adams and Dave Austin.
  • The cabin deck was added for space to eat and relax.
  • Adirondack chairs were built by Col. John Schumacher
  • A boat, the f/v Donni Jean was purchased for local halibut fishing trips.
  • Dads for Lads program guest is Chad Gantes with training of boat remodeling.
  • Cypress Church mens group enjoy a retreat with their Pastor Mike McKay
  • The North Shore area brush is cleared for construction.
  • The NRL Lodge foundation and shell is built by 15+ volunteers.
  • Roadtrip: The blue Suburban is driven up the Alcan by four young men, Tommy Kilbane, Brandon Gilbert, Ryan Smith and Mark Chapman.
  • A memorial service was held for wrangler Blake Van Duyn.
  • Lodge interiors are furnished with temp materials.
  • Dads for Lads sponsor Josh Ute as our worship leader
  • Father & Son retreat of the Coppenger’s group.
  • Adirondack chairs are built for front lodge deck by Col. Schumacher.
  • The lodge interior framing, roof, windows & doors, electrical and plumbing is worked on all summer by volunteers.
  • Staff sleep in the lodge with temp power for heat, porta potties and water hauled in for drinking. Very rustic.
  • Meals and Food Service is managed from the Cabin kitchen on the south shore.
  • Hands of Mercy group of 15 men arrive for 10 days to build cabinets, finish and install main electrical run, hook up water from well, build deck hand rail and so much more.
  • Nightly Bible studies are held around the campfire.
  • Food Service for staff and team with 3 meals daily is masterfully run from the small cabin kitchen by John & Priscilla Stahl. 
  • The new BBQ is built by the John Handy Legacy Fishcamp gang. 
  • The first Camp Alaska fund raising event is held in May at Pecks Nu Pike in Long Beach.
  • Dads for Lads host lad Chris Pimentel and Cypress Church mentors.
  • Construction work on lodge is part of training for Dads for Lads
  • The Adventure Centre desk is set up in the lodge Great Room
  • CAMP ALASKA #2 is held at Pecks Nu Pike in Long Beach.
  • The Campfire stadium seating is designed and built by John Handy Legacy Fishcamp gang.
  • The lodge Great Room is now the dining room and breakfast bar. Food service delivers hot meals from cabin kitchen to groups of 20+ for dinners.
  • The Lodge has 5 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms completed enough for guests.
  • A Laundry room is built for the washer/dryer in the lodge.
  • A gear shed is built to store boots, foul weather gear and tackle.(Gear & Tackle) 
  • The Cabin kitchen is remodeled to cook for 15+ guests daily with a dishwasher.
  • A deck and hot tub is added to the lodge by a group of volunteers led by Steve Mizuki.
  • CAMP ALASKA #3 is held at Pecks Nu Pike in Long Beach with 70+ guests. 
  • A new dining room is built in the lodge with hot chafing dishes and Gil’s Grill. 
  • The cabin & lodge have Wi-Fi and an AT&T tower nearby.
  • Volunteer staffers now work all season-June-August. Wranglers & Food Service, Hostess. 
  • The Septic System Phase I of II is donated and installed
  • Lodge temp shoring and insulation skirting is donated by Van Duyn Farms
  • Two new vehicles added to the camp from Json & Mikes ALCAN Roadtrip. Jeep & Pathfinder
  • The John Handy Legacy Fishcamp gang builds the New Welcome Sign that greet guests.
  • Couples Retreat group donate a (roaring & ripon) new monster swing (still needs installed) 
  • Sparkling logs of Lodge and Cabin are coated with log oil by Engineer James Ledbetter.
  • The lodge front lawn & river deck is installed by our landscape volunteer team led by George 
  • A wood deck is added to the back of the lodge to host dinners and staging adventure gear 
  • A new foundation wall is added to the lodge by the Steve Van Duyn group to “Save the Lodge” 
  • The new Kitchen SS Equipment is brought up the ALCAN by Json & Cory for our future kitchen in the lodge. Meals are still prepared at the cabin and transported to lodge. 
  • Luggage racks are built by Col. Schumacher for the rooms.
  • Three quads from the Peck Family are donated to the camp and brought up by Json & Cory.
  • The beautiful lodge decks and lodge log exterior were completely painted and maintained by James Ledbetter
  • The Cabin interior walls were stripped, painted and updated with the kitchen
  • Many BBQ’s are enjoyed on the back deck and lots of Al Fresca dining takes place and enjoyed outdoors
  • The West side of the Lodge logs were debarked & striped by wranglers Case & Mike, leaving only the East side to be debarked and log oil finished.
  • Volunteers lend helping hands to chip away at a never-ending list of handyman projects: Tris & Carolyn Swan, Gary & Judi Cox, James Ledbetter, Mike & Case, Ashlie Bodi.
  • THE GRAND LODGE LOG STAIRCASE is built by “The John Handy Legacy Group” and is it a prize! James Ledbetter applies several coats of log oil for the winter. 
  • Returning Chef, David Mokhtarian returns to camp to create gourmet meals for The Handy Legacy Group and is joined by his family for some awesome adventures. 
  • “TV For Dads” films several portions of episodes with producer Brian Molitor and T-Ray Burkett along with film crew to encourage men & boys in the outdoor and living life with God
  • The Mike Miller Family donate a new Fish Processor and Center. Adamae Knepper becomes the chief processor and loves her new job on the awesome machine.
  • The Bubba Knife company films segments of Fish Filleting at our Fish Processing Table for promotional use by Shane Supalla. 
  • Peter Keith donates a “larger then life” eskimo head set for decor and to have fun with photos
  • Open Camp Volunteers repair all four ATV’s, autos, plumbing issues and the spa. Thanks to: Ken Bruton & Gary Bolton, Wranglers Mike & Case, Judy Cox and our staff.
  • The Robert Bodi gang from Atlanta come spruce up the grounds with landscape work, maintenance projects and awesome handyman tasks completed. 
  • From Dallas, Jordy Dickey and Holly Smith join our volunteer staff to work in housekeeping, food service and even on the fish processing table. 
  • Col. John & Martha Schumacher place hands on new drapes, curtains and handyman projects needing a special touch. Adamae donates a used sewing machine to the camp.
  • A Grandpa, his sons and grandsons from Missouri enjoy a Guys Legacy Trip to the Fishcamp and come home with memories for a lifetime
  • A drone is flying above the camp capturing cool footage for a video by Shane Supalla. 
  • New vinyl fish processing table Aprons and kitchen aprons are donated by Json Knepper with the new logo. James Cox donates some 3” stickers used to place on our equipment. 
  • Ninilchik Charter Company blesses our staff on some “Fun Day” fishing trips to help the camp with needed seafood provisions for the season
  • James Ledbetter keeps the Cabin and Lodge in great looking shape with new log and siding oil for the season as he faithfully Opens and Closes the compound.
  • FOUR GENERATIONS continue the Mens family tradition. The Terpening’s came to the first Fishcamp in 1988 as Father & Son on an Alaskan Adventure. The son has continued this rich outdoor adventure with his son and now his grandsons. This grandpa knows the value of a “lifelong story” and made a rich investment into his families lives rich in tradition and legacy.
  • A Dads for Lads team join us this year, and The Cornerstone Church of Long Beach got behind this team and helped support them in a week long mans world at Fishcamp. It took a village to send them and the church body blessed this team with a story of a life time. Kudos to a very generous church body and vision for what God can do in a mans adventure in Alaska, for a life time.
  • The John Handy Legacy Gang return back to bless the camp and enjoy the timed tradition of “men just being men” for a fun week with staff and group activities on excursions.
  • Grandma Knepper continues to bless so many at camp. Her box lunches with a scripture verse keep guests and sea captains alike focused on God while eating. She processed #100’s of fish.
  • Staff member Jake Hardy returns back to camp, but not as a beloved Wrangler, but with his Dad to enjoy a week of fun fishing (and still doin’ a bit of Wrangling) for a week.
  • Pastor Woody & Ryan Moorwood return to recharge themselves from a busy season at Azusa Pacific University and still finds a moment to bless us around the ole campfire with a message.
  • Texas sends us some returning couples to enhance our season. T-Ray and Sandra are Friends of the Fishcamp and are always a joy to have hanging around the camp.
  • Lodge Engineer James Ledbetter keeps the compound bright and shiny for our enjoyment and blessing our guests.
  • OUR 30Th Season in ministry! 1988-2018. We rejoice and Thank God for His mercy and blessing to our years of work and comfortable Lodge and Cabin to host so many folks. It took a village and so many volunteers, donations, labor and prayer to allow us this marvelous mile stone in Ninilchik, Alaska. We explore our Calling and will continue our work in peoples lives for Jesus.
  • The Midway Church of great Atlanta, Georgia adopts Fishcamp as a Missions Point for teams to come help out and “bookend our seasons” with a team to Open Camp and a team to Close Camp. This group is a wonderful enhancement to our ministry and we are so blessed by Robert, Ashley and Paula Bodi and Pastor Steve and Tina Schneider for joining us in this Outdoor Alaskan ministry.
  • The worn out Cabin Septic System was replaced by Robert Bodi and Steve Schneider with a state of the art plastic tank in-ground system. What a huge blessings for the Cabin and Bunkhaus.
  • The Lodge Kitchen (Gils Grill Area) gets a face lift and new cabinets/tops for better plan & prepare our, over 1000 meals that will be served, packed in lunch boxes and eaten on the porch.
  • We are blessed with a new staff member, Naomi Sakata. She joins us after her educational retirement to offer her wonderful skillset in serving, food & hospitality service and housekeeping.
  • Our dear Anchorage Fishcamp Friends; John & Priscilla Stahl bless us with a load of Furnishings for our Great Room, Kitchen appliances and our new Toyota Privia Van in the perfect time.
  • Wrangler Nick Wagner joins our happy staff from Missouri. He came as a camper with his father and grandfather on a previous trip and wanted to join our staff to help out. What a joy to have him.
  • Col. & Martha Schumacher return to camp and offer the life long friendship and love to every guest, as they have for the past several decades. We love this dear couple that helped us build this camp.
  • Our Fishcamp Friends The Lundins from Huntington Beach, CA take over a week with laughter, friends and fishing. One year, their daughter Bonnie landed a #175 Halibut for the win.
  • Surprise Grandma. The Midway Missions Team remodel Grandmas Bathroom with a new fresh look. WOW, what a joy on her face to see such a needed uplift. This church body rocks!
  • Wranglers come help from all over the USA keeping our camp goin’ and flowing’, from the fish table to the clean deck chairs. Thanks to Shane Supalla, Ed Goosen, Mike Miller, Steve & Kathy VanDuyn, Lucas & Tanya VanDuyn and returning Wrangler Mike Hauser with his dad and 2 brothers. We are so thankful for everyone that comes to bless us and others each season at the Fishcamp.
  • Lodge Engineer, James Ledbetter faithfully Opens and Closed our compound. This warrior of God is a pillar of our very existence and the only reason we look & appear so good. Top to bottom
  • A Construction Year! THE COTTAGE. Time to build again. Stacking Logs and making more sleeping room. We have run out of beds for staff and guests on some weeks and need more space.
  • Clark Boulton and 5 buddies from Utah lead the June 1st team along side Robert Bodi installing the Underground Water, Septic and Electrical for the foundation screws. Nail guns flying.
  • Steve & Tina Schneider with the Midway Missions Team follow next with Laying Logs on the foundation and floor system. Logs are stacked for the 16’ X 32’ Log Cottage with Don & Reed.
  • WE MET THE GOAL! Have the Cottage habitable for a volunteer couple from Florida by August 1st. Thats 12 weeks! We did it! It took everyones help but by our goal, staff was sleeping in a new log cottage, taking showers and enjoying a covered deck with a river view. Woody and Ryan Moorwood broke ground and poured the Cottage Step slab in the heat of the hot summer, shirtless.
  • Wrangler Shane Supalla, after taking Emily as his bride this year, join in his calling to Fishcamp as a couple serving as director and in food service. Congrats Team Supalla and welcome along side us!
  • Our Wrangler team, led by Shane Supalla was a huge blessing to Pastor Steve Schneider as they laid logs 18 corses high, placed on trusses and still ran the camp. Kudos Zac and Kaden. Stellar year.
  • Naomi Sakata returns back to camp to take over the daily Food & Beverage services at the camp. We have never had such a clean, well organize and run camp. She loves to puzzle too in the great room.
  • Json Knepper hosts his new wife’s family to a wonderful week of cooking, fishing, exploring, eating, visiting and laughing. Welcome to Fishcamp Mok Family.
  • “Hey, where is this Grandma everyone is talking about?” As a boat captain and friend drive into camp looking for the person who blessed them with the scripture verse in their Fishcamp Lunch Box. This is one way the Fishcamp reaches out to our vendors by sending a free lunch box with our guests on fishing excursions. The love packed into each lunch is appreciated by each and every captain.
  • “They keep taking about Fishcamp in Colorado, I had to come see for myself.” Mike Coppenger, returning guest, had to bring a buddy to camp and see what all the excitement was about. “Now ya get it Norm?’ Mike first came with his father  and wife Bobbie a decade plus ago, he has sense brought his sons and son in law for an unforgettable week and the pride of a dad to give this gift of love.
  • Couples Retreat from Texas. After hearing about the Fishcamp for a decade or so, T-Ray and Sandra gather some couples to join them in a Fishcamp experience. Upon arrival, one guest actually “had tears in her eyes” upon landing on the front Lodge deck and seeing Gods beauty before her. The Alaskan scenery does infact take ones breath away at times. Snuggling couples around camp are sure fun.
  • Our Lodge Septic System, donated 5 years ago by and annomious donee allowed us the ability to tie into the elaborate DEC approved system set up for this and 3 other cabins in the future. Bless You.
  • Ed Goosen returns again as a Volunteer with his wife Desi for 3-weeks in August. They broke in the cottage and helped run the camps as we closed the season. Great Job!
  • It took 15 years for one of our supporters, Family Medicine in Long Beach, CA to make it, but this was the year! Welcome to Dr. John and Sharon Millane and family to the Fishcamp. Finally!
  • Reed Lewis from Atlanta could foresee the snow flying soon and no roof was on the cottage. He gathered a group to return back to camp, install the metal roof, weather tight the windows and prepare the Cottage for an Alaska winter. It took a donation from T-Ray and Sandra to put that roof in place. Thanks for seeing the need and answering the call of a much needed finish to end a great season #31.
  • New Logs, New Work. Engineer James Ledbetter was up for the challenge again. He places on his mask and sands the logs smooth for the finish coat in September as he closed down the camp.
Knepper's Alaska Fishcamp Be Still in Alaska