Our HistoryRMC was founded in 1983 upon the vision of Marlin and Sharon Harnish to provide a place where families could be refreshed. What began with two bunk houses and a stable on the grounds of a run-down horse camp has now blossomed into a facility that hosts hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals on an annual basis.
Humble BeginningsIn the early 1980s, Marlin and Sharon became aware of a camp called Circle T Ranch, owned by the Lancaster Youth for Christ. The facility had not been utilized for a few years and had come into disrepair. At the time, Marlin was a property manager at a retirement community and Sharon was working as a part time housekeeper and also in their home raising two young sons, Justin age 4 and Josiah age 2. They shared a desire to find a line of work where they could work together, raise a family, and minister to families. The "idea" of running a camp seemed to fit those parameters, though it seemed like quite a step of faith, especially since there was no business base to start with. They decided to take that step and moved here in December 1983. Initially, there was no functioning plumbing and Marlin says, "It was so overgrown, we were here a few weeks before we knew there was a pond on the property".
House FireIn December 1985, while preparing to welcome a "large group" of 50 people, the staff residence for the Harnish's caught fire. Most of the belongings of the family were destroyed, as well as half of the structure. Though tough at the time, Marlin recounts that in the long run, this was a blessing for the family because insurance covered the re-building, which enabled some much needed repair. The Harnish family moved into their renovated home in April 1986, and Josh Harnish was born in May 1986.
1987This year brought the addition of 20 Campsites and Tentsites for the facility. Brush was also cleared to provide space for a small playground and softball field.
1989Suzanne Harnish was welcomed to the family. Fencing was added to the Outdoor Basketball Court.
1991A new Deck was added to the north side of the pool.
1992Hannah Harnish was welcomed to the family. A new fence and concrete deck was installed around the pool. Meeting Room A was added to the Dining Hall. Additions were made to Bunks 1-4, adding a larger bathroom area and more beds. A 6 unit "Log Lodge" was built at the top of the camp.
1994Jeremy Harnish was welcomed to the family. Permanent Campsites were added beyond Gym #1. The kitchen was remodeled and an extension to the Dining Hall was constructed to provide more seating. Steps were added to the shallow end of the pool, and a pavilion was added in the Fall.
1996More space was needed in the Harnish residence so a second addition was added to that house. Gym #1 was expanded to add bleachers and storage space, and Meeting Room C was added. Meeting Room B was remodeled. Of special note, this year began the construction of activity facilities, which have grown significantly since then. The Low Ropes Course was started, and a Climbing Wall was added in Gym #1.
1997Mary Harnish was welcomed to the family. The largest construction project (up that that point) was started. This project converted a "summer only" facility and an apartment building into Bunks 5-6, a new office, 4 Private Rooms, and a small snack bar. Also, the High Ropes course was started. This first course had 1 zip line and 4 other elements.
1998The project with Bunks 5-6 was completed. A new surface and lights were added to the Outdoor Court. Don Bomberger was hired "full time" as Activities Director for the camp. Justin Harnish, graduated from High School and decided to work at the camp "wherever he fit in".
2000Bethany Harnish was welcomed to the family. An archery range was started. The horse barn and shed were removed to make room for the new Gym #2 facility. A craft cabin was built by the pond. A second staff house was added to the property.
2001Gym #2 was completed along with a maintenance area to the side. This facility provided meeting space for groups of up to 400 persons. The horse corral was leveled for a soccer field. A new Dining Hall Deck was added. The Low Ropes Course was expanded. A second Zip Line was added to the High Ropes Course. A new deck and water slides were added to the pool. And lastly, a 3rd addition was added to the original staff house.
2002The playground was expanded. The office area was remodeled. A climbing Tower was added. The softball field was lengthened. The west parking lot was expanded and paved. Construction on a new pool complex was begun in the Fall.
2003The new pool complex was completed. This included a new Store/Game Room, a wet playground, and expanded diving well. New elements were added to the High Ropes course, and existing elements were changed to use telephone poles (had previously been built into the trees). The Archery range was expanded. In the Fall, construction on a new Lodge (hotel style) facility was started.
2004The New Lodge project (phase 1) was completed in the Spring. This added 12 new hotel style facilities and Meeting Room E. As part of this project, the parking lot below this facility was expanded. 10 new Low Ropes Course elements were added.
2005The campsites/tentsites were renovated, improving the electrical supply and access to the sites. A skate park and portable climbing tower were purchased for the facilities. Bunks 1-4 were repainted and the bunk beds were rebuilt. 2 golf carts were purchased to rent to guest groups. An addition was added to Staff House #2. In the Fall, the old "Log Lodge" was removed to begin construction on the new Lodge project (phase #2).
Toward the end of the year, Josiah Harnish, who had worked a few different places up to this time, decided to join the staff full time as a Maintenance Director.
2006The new Lodge project (phase #2) was completed. This added 15 more Lodge rooms (hotel style) to the facility, taking the total number of hotel style rooms to 31. A horse barn was added. Retaining walls were added by the pavilion and pool. Path lights were installed to the Lodges. The low ropes course was mulched and expanded.
2007Ken Hedrick joined the camp as our Food Service Director. His employment replaced Sharon Harnish, who, up that that time, had been in charge of all foodservice at RMC. Sharon had also been in charge of cleaning, so this change finally allowed her the opportunity to "rest" a bit. She was also transitioning into a new role at that time: "Grandma".
Landscaping was added to the new Lodge facilities. Sand volleyball was added. The skatepark was sold (there was not enough use of it by guest groups). Mini-zip for children was added to the High Ropes Course. Renovations to the sewer plant were begun in the Fall.
2008Our 25th Anniversary. We celebrated the year by giving a full camp scholarship to every 25th attendee of each overnight event. In September, a day of thanksgiving was held and access to the pool, Zip Lines, and Climbing Tower was free.
This year also saw some significant remodeling to the kitchen and new kitchen equipment added. A second floor was added to the deck by the pool. 2 additional golf carts were purchased for rental to guest groups. In the Fall, construction on a new meeting room and maintenance facility were begun.
2009Construction on Himroasa Hall was completed. This facility seats up to 200 persons and adjoins the Gym #2 complex. Additionally, a new Maintenance Facility was completed.
Camp Road, which runs through the camp facilities and was previously a township road, was vacated by the township and turned over to RMC. This enhanced the security of the camp in that it enabled us to better control who has access to the camp at what times.
In the Fall, the porches in front of Bunks 1-4 were renovated, adding seating space and new landscaping. Our High Ropes Course was dismantled and reconstructed to include a Zip Line Canopy Tour, and 11 additional High Rope elements.
2010The entrance to the camp was upgraded to include a stone wall entrance and flowering trees along Camp Road. Planning is in place for renovations to the Dining Hall for more seating and an enhanced camp atmosphere.
As of Sept 20, 2010, RMC completed construction of a 62.72kW solar energy system. There are 3 arrays of solar panels. The most obvious one is between Gym #2 and the soccer field (from the back, it looks like bleachers). The other two arrays are on rooftops. This project will provide approx 30% of our annual electricity needs. It was funded, in part, by a grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
2011Over the winter months, the Dining Hall and Meeting Room A were combined to create an even better dining experience, adding accessibility elements and allowing for a total seating capacity of 300 people. The foyer next to the Dining Hall is also useful as a small meeting area, while the improved deck on the front of the Dining Hall allows groups to peacefully enjoy the new Koi pond and a wonderful view of the camp.
From there we rearranged the entrance to the pool to allow swimmers to go directly into the pool area instead of going through the Camp Store to enter the pool. A greenhouse was placed down by the Maintenance Facility to aid in grounds improvements projects.
2012In the Spring of 2012, we added a Gaga Pit and Activities Pavilion, and we also began the process of adding cabins to our facilities. The first 3 cabins were completed in May 2012. We have approval to build 13 of these, which will be completed over the next few years. In the Fall, we began construction on our second zipline canopy tour, the Aerial Excursion, which includes 7 ziplines, 3 sky bridges, and a "surprise at the end".
2013In March 2013, we opened our new Zipline Canopy Tour, the Aerial Excursion. This brings our total zipline options on-site (combined between the Challenge Adventure Tour and the Aerial Excursion) to be 12 ziplines, at close to 1 mile of combined length, in addition to numerous sky bridges and High Element Challenges. We also completed a renovation to the front office, adding additional space to check in guests. We completed an addition of a kitchen and bedrooms to a staff house on the premises, and we also installed a new dishwashing system in our Dining Hall. For many years, we have needed to serve meals using disposable products as dinnerware, but with the installation of this dishwashing system, we are now transitioning to reusable plates and silverware for meals.
In the Fall of 2013 we anticipate beginning construction on a new conference room and additional cabins.
Where We Are GoingThe story of the success of Refreshing Mountain Camp is a testimony to the Lord's faithfulness to "bless the works of our hands". The initial vision of Marlin and Sharon, accompanied by their hard work and consistency, has led to the development of the camp as it is today. That vision has grown beyond them, and is joined by other employees who share that vision and expand on it in their own ways. Marlin says that he would never have been able to grasp the concept of RMC today when he first started, but he just took one step at a time, and this is where it has led thus far.
In 2008, we received Land Development Approval from Clay Township to add on a new Game Room/Office beside the pool, renovate the Dining Hall, and add a new indoor Activity Center to our facilities. These projects are anticipated to complete in the next 5 to 10 years. Notwithstanding these plans, our ultimate goal is to continue to take "one step at a time", doing our best to be faithful with the vision of "refreshing others", and trusting the Lord for His direction in the ways that we should go.