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The Hus Encampment: a Brief History

    Pioneer pastor, Reverend Adolf Chlumsky, began what was the forerunner of Hus School. In the early 1900's, his family took young women into their home for six months or so to instruct them in music and Christian education so that these young women could assist with these things in their home congregations. When Joseph Barton and Joseph Hegar became pastors in the denomination Chlumksy encouraged them to continue the work he had begun. 

    In January of 1914, the very first official Hus School class met in Granger with Pastors Hegar and Barton as teachers. From thereon until 1923, Hus School was a traveling school of several weeks duration and in various congregations with Barton and Hegar as instructors with assistance from Mrs. Albina Barton. 

    In 1924, the Unity bought a former academy building in Temple and this became the permanent home for Hus School until 1944 when the building was sold during World War II. The Hegar family lived in the building year round and various memeber of the family assisted Rev. Hegar with the teaching. 

    Once again, Hus School became a traveling school--moving from one congregation to another until the Encampment came into existence. 

    Following the sudden death of Rev. Joseph Hegar in 1948, two nephews of Rev. Hegar took up the challenge of teaching His chool. They were Rev. Josef A. Barton (son of the older, Rev. Barton) and John Baletka. Josef was pastor at Nelsonville at that time and Baletka was a first year seminary student. Josef's wife, Elsie, also assisted.

    As the school continued to be a summer 6 week program for young people 16 years of age, or older, and continued to travel from one congregation to another each summer, the teaching responsibilities were shared by John Baletka and Henry Beseda, assisted by Joe and Elsie Barton, Albert Michalik, Gordon Hejl, and Joyce Baletka. The traveling school continued through the Summer of 1955. 

    In the Spring of 1955, the camp proposal was presented to the denomination. The idea of a camp was new to the people. Only $18,000 was in the building fund at that time. Several offers of land donations were considered. The New Tabor site of seventeen acres was selected. Brochures were distributed throughout the denomination and people were invited to come see the property in its natural state on Mother's Day of 1955. Delegates at the 1955 Unity Convention approved the plan and the acceptance of the donated land. A fund drive was authorized and by the end of the year, the building fund had grown to $29, 000.

    In February of 1956, the first work day to begin clearing trees and brush from the building sites was held. Volunteers (men and women) came for many, many more work days and assisted with the greatest part of the construction . Foundations for four buildings-main building, two dorms, and Caretaker's house- were poured in April of 1956. 

    On June 30, 1957, the Hus School Encampment was dedicated as a place of worship and study and a place to lead people to Christ and grow in Christian faith. 

    During the dedication the building committee reported the estimated value of the Encampment facilities as $100,000 but the actual cost had been held to approximately $52,000 by the many hours of donated labor that had gone into the construction. At the time of the dedication the debt remaining on the camp was about $12,000. A special "Erase-the-Indebtedness Campaign" was conducted, and in February 1960 an announcement was made that the entire debt had been paid. 

    The first Hus School session at the Encampment was held for six weeks during the summer of 1957 with 31 students, 16 years of age and older, in attendance. The staff consisted of Rev. John Baletka, Rev. Henry Beseda, Rev. Albert Michalik, Joyce Baletka, and one cook, Mrs. Lottie Kubena. The Baletkas assisted with much of the cooking in addition to their supervisory and teaching responsibilities. 

    One week following the end of the Hus School session, the first ever week long camp for younger people of the denomination was held. Forty-one campers (ages 14 and 15) attended the Junior High Camp which was staffed by several pastors along with their wives. 

    The Unity Convention of 1957 determined that a Hus Board of Trustees should be appointed to have charge of the facility and that members of the Board be named by the various organizations of the denomination. 

    Hus School continued to be taught for terms of six weeks for young people 16 and older for many years. 

    Each year the camping program was expanded with the addition of Pioneer and Alpha camp and some Sr. High and adult retreats in addition to the continuing Jr. High camp. As the program was expanded and our society became more fast paced, the age requirement for Hus School was lowered to 15 years of age and the term shortened--first to four weeks and then three, and now two. 

    The original purpose for Hus School which was to train young people to take on leadership roles n their home Sunday Schools has diminished. Basically, the overall purpose of the Encampment program has become leading people to Christ and helping them grow in Christian faith in order to face the problems of our current society. 

    Over the course of the last 66 years, many improvements have been added to the facility. The New Classroom was dedicated in 2000 and the Main Building was remodeled in 2021. 

    It is difficult to estimate exactly how many young people have attended activities here during these years or how many adult volunteers have participated in its various programs. It is certain, however, that the camp and its programs have greatly benefited the denomination. 

Originally written in 2001 by Mrs. Joyce Baletka. Edited and amended in 2023 by Mrs. Jordan Barbisch. 

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