It all started with a boat. The Goforth was its name and Alf and Margaret Bayne did indeed go forth and their legacy is still going forward 70 years later with Camp Homewood on Quadra Island celebrating its 70th anniversary this summer.
“Basically, it started with Alf getting a boat and then getting a wife…almost in that order,” said Irwin Harder general director of Camp Homewood. “Their honeymoon was basically on the boat. It became their home for the first several years.”
Camp Homewood originated in 1944 when the Baynes began ministering to families and children in isolated areas on the coast of British Columbia through the mechanism of the Goforth, a 36-foot motor vessel. They operated under the name of Pacific Coast Children’s Mission and that is the formal name of the camp to this day, although everyone knows it as Camp Homewood. After the first few years of ministering to isolated residents of the coast via the Goforth, the idea of a summer camp was launched and the first camp was held in Terrace, B.C. in 1947. But the need for a permanent home lead to the establishment of a land base on a farm on Quadra Island.
It came about through the convergence of the Baynes’ dreams and the wishes of a Quadra Island minister, R.J. Walker, who, in 1904, had settled on Quadra on a farm called Homewood in the protected waters of Gowlland Harbour on the west coast of the island. Before that, Walker had been ministering to the First Nations village at Cape Mudge where a chapel bears his name.
“Endowed with natural beauty, with a southern exposure on the shores of a sheltered bay, and strategic in its location relative to the coast, Homewood was ideal for our purposes,” Alf Bayne wrote in his history of Camp Homewood, A Candle on the Coast.
Alf, 97, only just recently moved away from Camp Homewood due to his health. Margaret passed away in 2013.
It was in 1948 when the Baynes moved onto a portion of the present Homewood property. The first camp was held the following summer.
In Candle, Alf wrote, “In the autumn of 1948, when we moved to Homewood, Quadra Island was still part of the undiscovered rural dream and still fairly free of the bureaucratic touch. The roads were of that picture book, two-track variety, with grass down the middle.”
Alf noted the small community on the other side of Discovery Passage in Candle.
“The Goforth provided contact with Campbell River, not much bigger than the little village I remember when, as a 12-year-old, I was tenting on the Spit fishing with my parents.”
A camp was a means to an end for the devoutly Christian Baynes. The Camp Homewood website explains that camping, to a believer, “is an opportunity to enjoy the Creator’s handiwork. To those who have not as yet been introduced to the Saviour, it is a setting in which we can communicate His love and care for them, using the beauty and experiences around us as a spring board.”
The camp grew and grew over time, Harder said. Buildings were added, land was added. Then in the 1960s, it was decided that they wanted to expand further and started doing a more woodsy camp focusing on more rustic camping skills. They called it the Woodsman Camp and it began on the freshwater Main Lake in the north end of Quadra Island.
Over the years the camp program has expanded, involving more campers and reaching out to more people every year.
The camp offers a range of activities and comes up with creative ways for people to attend. There is an emphasis on family but besides youth camps, there are mother and daughter camps, father and son camps, homeschooling camps and many others. School programs are offered as well and the camp has catered to youth organizations like Guides and Scouts.
“We try to offer a simple program,” he said. “Our activities are a bit more traditional camping activities.”
In the summer, there are week-long themed camps offered: a harbour camp, focusing on the main property in Gowlland Harbour; a ranch camp, focusing on horsemanship; a sailing camp; and a Woodsman Camp.