Milo's Camp Umpqua Expands

April 12, 2016 | Kathy Hernandez

Milo Adventist Academy’s Camp Umpqua in Days Creek is expanding. Six new cabins have been framed in, and plans are in progress to complete the project in 2016 so that the camp will be available for church retreats and Pathfinder camporees.

Camp Umpqua was named in 1955 and was used as the Oregon Conference youth camp from 1955 to 1961. About 400 young people participated each summer at a cost of $20 per camper, which included round-trip transportation on Greyhound buses (per Gleaner articles archived at

The last summer camp at Camp Umpqua was held in 1961, the year before Big Lake Youth Camp opened in central Oregon. Over the next few years, Camp Umpqua fell into disrepair through lack of use.

Milo Adventist Academy alumnus Dan Wilbanks (1973), now Roseburg Junior Academy principal, was the taskforce assistant boys’ dean at Milo during the 1975–1976 school year when he first had a vision for what Camp Umpqua could be. As the Pathfinder director that year, he coordinated a project to clean up the camp and raise money for repairs.

Wilbanks says the kids were excited about helping and worked hard to clean up the camp, even clearing a trail of about 100 yards' length, from the camp to connect to the trail up to Craig’s Lookout. The lodge received a new roof and two new wood stoves were installed. Pathfinders continued to raise money in 1979 for additional improvements.

In the 1990s, the Oregon Conference turned the Camp Umpqua property over to Milo Adventist Academy, but the academy had its own financial needs and wasn’t able to keep it up.

Murray Coupland and Owen MacPhee gutted and rebuilt the boys’ bathroom around 2000. “Steve Book donated the labor for the cement work,” Sharon Coupland says. “Steve Snider did the painting.” 

She continues, “That same year we ran new pipes from both bathrooms to the septic tank. The septic was located and determined that it did not need to be pumped at that time. The girls’ bathroom was done by a crew from Big Lake the next year or so. The intent was for Big Lake to have camp there, but it only lasted two summers.”

Camp Umpqua caretaker Richard Pearson has been chipping away at improvement projects since 2005. Pearson, along with Dennis Simmons, Milo Church member, built the outdoor stage from recycled materials and created the log benches for the outdoor amphitheater.

The lodge has settled over the years, some parts sinking more than others, causing structural problems. In the spring of 2015, Mike Brown, father of current Milo senior Hope Brown, strengthened and stabilized the supports and leveled out the lodge. As the floor and walls were straightened, gaps appeared that needed to be addressed. 

Camp Umpqua made history last summer by hosting Maranatha Volunteers International’s first ever Ultimate Workout in the U.S. Almost 100 teens gave of their time to make improvements to the camp as well as to adjacent Milo Academy. Another group of Maranatha volunteers built the six new cabins at Camp Umpqua in August 2015 but didn’t have time to finish them.

A winter storm in December brought heavy snow and left Milo without power for five days. Trees couldn’t sustain the weight of the wet snow. Branches collapsed, damaging the roof of the Camp Umpqua lodge. Since the lodge was not able to be insured, Milo is raising funds to provide the repairs. In addition to the storm damage, renovations are needed to the aging building, especially to include a functioning kitchen. 

A group of students along with teachers Dale and Darla Milam took on the project of cleaning up debris from the recent storm for Milo’s annual Campus Day. They hauled away loads of fallen branches so the outdoor amphitheater is again usable and also cleaned the interior of the lodge.

Milo Academy principal Randy Thornton envisions Camp Umpqua as a place where churches can come for retreats, where Pathfinders have the opportunity to camp, where Milo students continue to have special vespers and church services, and where everyone can enjoy the great outdoors.

David Williams, a former employee of Thunderbird Wood Products, decided to become a partner in ministry and has been faithfully donating to the Camp Umpqua fund every month for years. More ministry partners are needed. To learn more about how you can help with the restoration of Camp Umpqua, visit: or email