Like many families, the Ohio Conference faith family has a place considered dear to its family heritage; a place where many sentimental and meaningful milestones in the lives of the family members took their roots. Its name is Mohaven, located in the heart of Ohio's lush forests. Toddlers have played there. Children and youth have given their hearts to Jesus there. Young people have fallen in love there. Something magical happens in people's hearts during times like these.
Church family members return to Mohaven year after year to bring their own children to this special spot, passing along one of the sacred traditions that binds the Ohio Conference faith family together in their journey towards a closer walk with their Savior, Jesus Chrust. Mohaven "magic," some have called it. And so it must be. After all, it is directly tied to the Supernatural!
Indeed God has placed a special blessing on this place, and it is easy to see it when reminded of certain steps along its journey. As the song goes, we count many blessing, naming them one by one. The obvious place to begin it where those first blessings took place. How did Mohaven come to be? It all began with a joint private venture of two Adventist families.
` Dr. Lee F. Kramer joined Dr. Clinton W. Trott in a partnership medical practice in Mt. Vernon in 1959. Kramer and Trott outdoor enthusiasts, were looking for a piece of property so that their families could use it for a weekend hide-a-way. Local real estate agents suggested that a property in the Brinkhaven area near Danville, although perhaps too large for two families, was a special quality because it had a mile and a quarter frontage on the Mohican River.
One Friday afternoon Dr. Trott agreed to stay in the office to see the partnership patients while Dr. Kramer went with the realtors to look at his property. Lee called back with great enthusiasm, and over the phone Clinton and Lee agreed that a $100 option fee should be paid to hold the property pending further investigation. That weekend they hiked over some of the edges of the property with a ridge top pasture field and a river front cabin and an adjoining barn that was most unique.
A family conference confirmed early impressions that this property, although too big for the use of just the two Trott and Kramer families, was so attractive, so close to Mt. Vernon, and so unique in its unspoiled setting that it should be acquired for use of Adventist families and possible church use.
A number of close Adventist friends of Trott and Kramer were approached to see if they would be interested in joint-ownership of the property. Besides Virginia and Clinton Trott, and Hazel and Lee Kramer, there other families included Dell and Percy Miles, Elaine and Claire Smith, June and Don McCready. and Thelma and Joseph Poole. At one of the original meetings of the six families in the Trott home on a Saturday night, Clinton Trott said, "We've got to have a name for this project. How about 'Mo' for the MOhican River and "haven" for the nearby town of BrinkHAVEN?" And the group agreed. Although the name was not popular with many who wanted an authentic Indian name, the name survived even after a naming contest, persisting to this day.
These six families put up $750 each to make the down payment on the property, and it was purchased in the name of "Mohaven Wildlife Foundation, Inc." with full tax exemption status by the State of Ohio. By laws were drawn up by a lawyer with clear regulations of land use and environmental protection of fauna and flora. The families renovated the log cabin on the waterfront, did limited amount of clearing of access roads, and held various recreational events for members and friends.
Trott and Kramer were aware of the years-long search by the Ohio Conference for their own youth camp property. At that time, Tar Hallow State Camp was being rented for two short weeks each year, and was considered by many to be totally inadequate. Elder Warren Whittenberg, Ohio Youth Director, had been a college friend of Trott from the mid-1930s, and had shared the conference concern for a good piece of property. Several pieces of property had been investigated, with possibilities for construction of artificial lakes, but none on a watercourse or lake, but none on a watercourse or lake, and none were wholly satisfactory. Don Hunter, Conference President, Jack Shull, Mt. Vernon Academy Principal, and other conference officials were shown the property as a possible youth camp site.
Objections were: no swimming facilities, and a bit remote from major highways. Advantages (as compared with other available land) were: proximity to Mt. Vernon hundreds of acres of unspoiled land with good trees, excellent soil conditions, nearby property that might be available for purchase to enlarge the initial plot, an atmosphere and spirit of recreational land use, frontage on the Mohican River with obvious advantages for canoeing and other limited water sports, abundant areas for hiking and camping, acceptable well-drilling potential, a cleared ridge top meadow for a lodge and camp facilities. The cost? $15,000 – and availability from Adventist owners.
Conference officials, agricultural extension agent George McConnell, and state conservation officials hiked over the many acres and the consensus grew stronger that this just may be the place for the new Ohio Conference youth camp. The Ohio Conference purchased the property in 1961, and the magical history continues to this day.
If you 'Google' the word "Mohaven," you are likely to find some articles that refer to "Mohaven Meetings." The Adventist Church experienced a heightened interest in discussion relating to women's ordination during the 1970s, and Mohaven was one of the sites to receive notoriety regarding discussions on this topic during that time. For those taking part in these discussions today, "Mohaven Meetings" has significant meaning that marks certain history-making for the Adventist Church.
Nearly fifty years after its inception in the Ohio Conference faith family, Mohaven has more than proven its ability to nurture faith and inspiration. Year around use is enhanced by beautiful facilities that include a atmospheric cafeteria long house graced with two huge fireplaces at each end, with the convenience of a modern industrial kitchen. Other buildings include a beautiful nature and conference center, three independent manors that can service the conveniences of multiple families, and several renovated bunk cabins are on course to be updated with modern plumbing. Normal recreational amenities include basketball and volleyball courts, a climbing wall, an olympic sized swimming pool, an arcade game building, ball field, canoeing, archery, disc golf course, children's playground, kayaking, horses, stables, pastures and riding trails, table games, high and low ropes courses, and scenic hiking and nature trails.
Mohaven belongs to the conference constituents. It does not only belong to church leadership, camp management personnel, any conference department, or exclusively the conference's youth. To practically portray this vision, Mohaven has recently been reorganized into "ministry teams" that represent constituent members from around the conference, representing wide diversity of age, gender, and ethnicity. Ministry teams focus on specialty areas such as food service, landscaping, updating and new construction, horses, recreational activities, the mechanical fleet, and general maintenance, etc. Each team consists of, and is led by, volunteers who are experts and enthusiasts in their team ministry area. Under the direction of Mohaven's administrative director, each team is authorized and commissioned to meet regularly to evaluate, determine how to best meet the goals of their ministry, and to actually facilitate these decisions, including creative resourcing.
There is strong and positive support by those who are becoming part of this solid infrastructure. The plan is to intentionally bring broad ownership of Mohaven's destiny toward continuing the meaningful place in the spiritual lives of its faith family members in Ohio. It is a supernatural journey, after all. Every family deserves a special place where they can make those memories that become the "tie that binds" us toward our Heavenly Father. It truly becomes a magical experience.