What Is Medeba?

What is Medeba?

Founding of Medeba

Medeba was founded in 1952 by Stu and Jackie Wilson who, as a young married couple, had a vision to begin a summer camp for children in the Halliburton area. They moved into an old two-storey farmhouse (the Homestead) which had no electricity and only one sink that was gravity fed from a spring. A wood stove was used for cooking and provided heat for the house. Electricity and a telephone system did not come to the area for several more years. Those were pioneering days indeed!   

Medeba has always been a facility that was used through all four seasons. A log cabin became the first accommodation outside the Homestead. It housed eight campers in bunk beds and an extra level was added in the winter to accommodate 12 campers.
During the summer residential camping programs were established for a handful of children from in and around the area. An extensive vegetable garden supplied fresh vegetables while meat, milk and other foods were donated by farmers nearby. By the summer of 1955 four camp sessions were held with a total of 63 campers.
A Not-for-Profit Charity is Established

In 1954 the decision was reached to officially establish Medeba as a not-for-profit corporation and a Board of Directors was chosen as part of this process. The Wilsons' transferred title of the property for the sum of one dollar. The original board functioned as an operational and policy-setting committee and they provided much of the volunteer labour needed to fundraise and build the initial buildings on the property.

Staffing during the early days came primarily from the Wilson family assisted by other friends and supporters. Medeba provided the Wilsons with basic housing and food. Stu engaged in pastoral and outreach ministries and was viewed as a faith missionary. Eventually the Wilson's moved from Haliburton to the Thornhill, just north of Toronto and drove to the camp to staff weekend retreats and run summer camp.
Bruce Dunning was hired as the first full-time program director in 1980 and became the General Director after Stu and Jackie Wilson officially retired in 1981. Gradually the Medeba Year-round Staff Team began to grow and each time it did it took a great deal of sacrifice on the part of each person.  Currently the Staff Team is composed of close to a dozen individuals who are generally characterized by a long term commitment to the ministry.

Program Development
The emphasis of Medeba has always been upon changing young people's lives. Over the years a variety of programs have been offered but most of these have focused on four different areas - Summer Camp, Group Retreats, School Programs and Leadership Training. It is out of this last category that the vision for starting a Christian Leadership Development Program was established.
Today Medeba operates every month of the year and has grow to the point that most of the programs offered are full or close to being full.

Medeba has always had an adventure component to its programming but it wasn't until 1994 that it was officially identified as being such. Medeba's mission is to change young peoples' lives through specialized adventure experience from a Christian perspective. We want to help people say "yes" to God - whatever that next step may be.

Facility Development
In order to run a quality year-round ministry it was necessary to have the facilities to support the vision. Over the years thousands of people have contributed to this through financial and personal sacrifice. Every building that has been built at Medeba is covered through donations as camper fees only go toward operating expenses. Currently, Medeba is now able to accommodate approximately 180 people.
Since the late 1990s Medeba has undertaken an aggressive capital construction program replacing every old cabin, building a state of the art washroom facility, a new dining hall and a self-contained meeting and accommodation facility we call the Hub. Plans are currently also in place to replace the original Homestead with new accommodations and a new kitchen. Basically much of Medeba was rebuilt in just over a decade.

During these years the original size of the property was expanded from 76 acres to just over 190 acres. The purchase of additional land serves as a wonderful wilderness setting with over 10 km of trails and a barrier to future outside development.
But buildings are only part of the development as activity areas were expanded and improved. Medeba's activity areas include a full waterfront, indoor and outdoor rock climbing walls an extensive high and low ropes course, a double zip line and a giant swing, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, archery, riflery ranges and much more. Off site trips include white-water kayaking, wilderness canoe trips rock climbing and caving to name a few. In the winter new activities come to life with an ice climbing tower, back-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and broomball.
The Medeba Journey Book


To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Medeba in 2002 Stu Wilson (founder) and Bruce Dunning (Medeba's second director) wrote a book called The Medeba Journey. Copies are still available from Medeba. Please contact the office if you are interested in obtaining a copy. It is filled with    dozens of stories and testimonies of people whose lives have been impacted by the ministry of Medeba.


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