Camp Haluwasa is Ralph's spiritual birthplace and he has a special fondness for this wonderful place. The story of Camp Haluwasa is printed in the book, "The Apples in a Seed," which also contains Ralph's testimony.
Back in the fifties, a young man named Charlie Ashmen moved from Colorado, where he had helped to build Camp Idrahaje. The name comes from "I'd rather have Jesus" and Haluwasa comes from "Hallelujah what a Savior".
Charlie and his wife Nellie loved God and his creation, and they wanted more than anything else to reach young people with the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. Ralph was one of the "firstfruits" in New Jersey.
Charlie believed that young people were rapidly becoming enamored with the world and material things, and God's voice was being drowned out. He envisioned a camp in the New Jersey pine barrens where kids could be drawn out of the cities and towns and get close to nature. After raising money to purchase a suitable tract of land that was once a cranberry bog, he began working to fulfill his vision. Charlie sought and found willing helpers in churches all over South Jersey. Ralph helped his father build one of the first cabins and he was nailing shingles on the roof of the open air tabernacle shortly before he gave his life to Christ.
Soon there were three lakes, a tabernacle and a number of rustic cabins to accommodate kids. Sunday afternoons, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, meetings were held in the tabernacle for any who wished to attend. The services, which reminisced of earlier camp meeting days, were informal and filled with good instrumental and vocal music. There was always a testimony time and a solid gospel message from Charlie or a guest speaker.
Charlie passed away in 2007, but his vision has continued to flourish and brings many kids to personal faith in Jesus each year. Close to 2,000 attend the summer camps each and Haluwasa also sponsors many retreats, banquets and outreaches.
The black & white photo above shows a boys' camp Ralph helped with at Camp Haluwasa in 1956 before there were any cabins or even lakes. In the following photos, you see Charlie in his Jeep and shortly before he passed away. He broke his neck working on the narrow gauge railroad that he had invested so much time and energy into. If you look carefully, you can see a small picture of us holding our third child on the fireplace mantle of his home. We look forward to meeting Charlie again in heaven someday!
Below are a few photos of the camp today. For more information, check links to the camp website and watch the YouTube video at the bottom of this page.
March 16-21, 2009 Haluwasa Work Week
The task: Construct the boys' cabins (the girls' cabins are nearly finished)
Monday morning, nothing but concrete
300 rafters and perhaps a thousand studs to cut! By the end of Monday, the first wall was up.
We had one day of 70 degree weather and the first day of spring started out at 23 degrees with snowfall! On each of the six days, between 19 to 25 men worked as volunteers on this project. Altogether 57 men and a couple of ladies were involved. Seven of the men were Harveys (Ralph, four brothers and two nephews)
An interesting side note for Ralph was the vehicle one of the volunteer workers drove. It was an Austrian-built Army Pinsgauer in excellent condition!
Ralph had the privilege of speaking at Haluwasa's 60th Anniversary banquet on April 18, 2015.