During the first decade there was no paid labor—only volunteers with a vision. In the early years, individuals built their own cottages. In 1949, volunteers built the first camp lodgings. Later that year, Alliance Redwoods borrowed $8,000 to build Madrone Lodge.
Paid employees could certainly better advance the vision, but there was no money for employees. In 1964, Lee Milligan was asked to live on site and serve as the first Camp Manager.
His salary was a place to live on site. His dwelling was an old cabin that was upgraded before his wife would join him.
In 1965, Alliance Redwoods faced an ultimatum from Sonoma County: “The grace period is over. Replace the kitchen and dining room or board them up. They are not fit to be used again as is.”With only $117 in the treasury, how would the camp come up with the $50,000 needed to rebuild? Other pressing needs included new restrooms, a new water tank, and recreation space.
That same year, Loren Berry cleared trees from the area that is now Forest Village and paid the camp $10,000 for the timber he harvested. That sum combined with a loan helped pay for the new kitchen and dining room which opened for use in the summer of 1966 and was dedicated to Paul Duckworth, a contractor who was instrumental in the reconstruction.
In 1967, Ralph Rhoads was hired as the first Executive Director, and he was the first paid employee. He lived on site with his wife and three children in a one bedroom cabin with wood heating. The camp’s first paid maintenance man, Robert Collburn, was provided with similar housing for his family.
Rhoads hired a summer staff for the first time in 1968, and he established music camps led by professionals from the Simpson College (now Simpson University) music department. Rhoads also suggested the camp be winterized and used all year round for greater ministry opportunities.
The winterizing would cost thousands of dollars that the camp did not have. Constant is the struggle between the desire to advance the ministry and the need to pay for any advancement.
In 1968, the Central Pacific District of the C&MA appointed Alliance Redwoods’ first Board of Trustees including key supporters and volunteers: Loren Berry, Paul Curry, Reverend Loren Jack, Wilbur Johnston, Nate Kinser, Ray McIntosh, Reverend Carl Measell, Don Swift, and Reverend Richard Taylor.