How did we start? In 1956, God did a miracle in allowing a “poor” pastor by the name of Truman Robertson, along with his wife, Jan, and 5 kids, to buy 80 acres of pristine land with over a thousand feet of frontage on quiet Spider Lake. He had no money, but a lot of faith and a promise. His dream was to have a place where young and old could hear of Jesus’ love and free gift, in a wilderness setting away from the normal life of the city. Friends had told him, “If you find a place, we will stand with you.” In a short time, $5,000 came in the mail from generous friends and Fort Wilderness was birthed.
What were the early days like? With just 16 campers that first year, and only 2 primitive cabins, a bat and a ball, a canoe and a Bible, a humble beginning didn’t mean big things weren’t in the works. The Fort Family quickly grew as friends stood by Truman and Jan. Their love for people was contagious. Electric came in the 1960s. Camp was winterized in the 1970s. All throughout, Tru would teach the gospel with clear and passionate words and with the love of a grandpa in his eyes. You couldn’t help listening to his “Tru” stories.
What about today? 8,000 campers head north each year to join the Fort Family. More than 20 year-round Missionary Staff and hundreds of volunteers make up the team. Truman’s son, Tom, was the Executive Director from 1995 to 2016, with long-term Fort Friend Todd Leyden receiving the mantle in 2016. Generous friends continue to respond to God’s call. In addition to Main Camp, Fort now has two additional summer-only sites called Adventure Outpost and Leadership Lab. These modern, though rustic, sites are the perfect setting for kids to experience adventure. That’s the Fort Story. You’ll need to stop by to get a “Tru” taste of this place.