A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ANCHORAGE :
In the late 1940’s my grandfather, Edward Evans Ulrich, Sr., envisioned a summer youth camp ministry specifically focusing on the
needs of local young people. For several summers he and my father operated a camp program which utilized a couple of rental houses,
an open-air dining tent, and the lake (it was a much simpler time then). God blessed those early efforts with souls saved and others
being called into the ministry.
When it was apparent that the original facilities arrangement was unworkable (the health department frowned on the open-air dining
tent) a handshake deal to purchase The Anchorage Club was made, but fell through. It was from these humble beginnings that the vision
which eventually became The Anchorage was born.
In 1972 The Anchorage Club was on the market again. My grandfather had by then passed away, but a group of pastors and
businessmen, led by my father, formed a board and, miraculously, purchased the property in August of that year. That effort lasted for
3 years and the properties, assets, and liabilities were deeded to Gospel Enterprises, Inc . , the current corporate entity of The
Growth was slow and sporadic from ’75 to the mid ’80’s. In 1987 the first in a series of grants was received which provided for some
major capital expenditures necessary for the development of the program. Late ’87, all of 1988, and the early months of ’89 were spent
almost entirely in construction which prevented use of the property for most normal ministry programs, but provided for the addition of
the gym and skating facility; the addition of a new larger snack shop; complete remodeling of the main lodge; replacement of the then-
existing pier with a new, larger pier and deck facility; and the addition of land and buildings.
Summer of 1989 could be considered the ” rebirth ” of The Anchorage as programs were commenced following the extensive
remodeling and modernizing. In 1990 the ministries outreach and program income exceeded that of any previous year since the establishing
of the camp, and there has been steady growth since. Furthermore, wide-ranging updating and remodeling has continued so that The
Anchorage is now a modern, comfortable camp with a very unique atmosphere.
From the initial vision of a ministry outlet to local youth, The Anchorage has emerged as a camping outreach to youth,
adults, families, and churches from 9 southeastern states. Fourty plus years of ministry have touched thousands of lives with the truth
of God’s Word, and hundreds have trusted Christ as Savior, yielded to the work of God in their lives, and have grown in their spiritual
walk that now effects 2nd and 3rd generations.
“To God be the glory, great things He hath done.”
We are constantly amazed at the way the Lord has provided for The Anchorage throughout its history. The Lord’s grace and
provision is illustrated in the following account of the first retreat at The Anchorage over 40 years ago…
Friday, February 7, 1973, was the first day of the first camp program ever offered at The Anchorage . What a beginning
it was, for it was also the first day of the worst snow storm ever recorded at Lake Waccamaw–20 plus inches of snow, 4 foot snow
drifts, gale force winds, and wind chills below zero.
The program was a youth retreat hosted by the Bethel FWB Church of Kinston, NC. A few of the 75 teens expected to attend arrived
for supper, but most were to arrive after a ball game in a nearby county. Everyone was planning to stay until lunch on Sunday.
Before anyone realized the size and scope of the storm the retreat was well underway. Because the storm moved from the coast inland,
snow began falling in Lake Waccamaw long before it was even thought a possibility in Kinston. The early campers arrived as the snow began,
and those who were to arrive late were closer to the camp than they were to home. All did arrive safely, but the excitement was just beginning.
By Saturday morning all the roads in eastern NC were closed. The electricity was out, and phone service was interrupted. What a
retreat this had turned out to be! There were 75 teenagers housed in one building with no heat, no water, no lights, no phone, and no
way to get home. With nowhere to go, we decided to make the best of it.
Everyone went to work. Some gathered snow to be boiled and then used for cooking, drinking, and washing. Others collected water from
the lake to flush commodes. Candles provided a little light, and two fireplaces provided a little heat. A steady stream of teens headed
out into the storm all day to gather snow, water, and firewood. The cooks had the task of preparing meals and cleaning up with no running
water, lights, or heat (Praise the Lord for the gas appliances!) Everyone had to sleep by the fires.
On Sunday the roads were still impassable. And we encountered another problem. The staff had only purchased enough food to provide
meals through Sunday lunch only. Being the first-ever retreat there was no food inventory, so special arrangements were made to open
the local grocery store (a walk of over a mile one way) just long enough to purchase the necessities for two extra meals.
Finally, on Monday morning, roads were cleared, and the retreat ended with memories that would last a lifetime.
In some ways, that first retreat may have been the best retreat we have ever had. During that weekend there was a spirit of unity
that has rarely been repeated here, and the Lord used the preaching to touch the hearts of many of the young people attending. Even
more importantly, the extended time resulted in the salvation of several who were lost. Over the years I have met many who attended
that retreat, and most have a testimony of the change the Lord brought to their life while they were “stranded” at camp.
I shudder when I think of the hazards, health concerns, and potential catastrophes which were present that first retreat program,
most of which we were probably too inexperienced to even recognize at that time. Yet, God intervened on our behalf. Experience and
training now allow us to “see things before they happen,” but we realize now more than ever that “….safety is of the
LORD… (Prov. 21:31) .” Please join us in thanking our heavenly Father for His protection, and commit to pray regularly for the
continuing safety of the campers, staff, and for His protection over the facility and equipment.