Existing since 1894, Mahaffey Camp and Conference Center has served as the District camp for The Christian and Missionary Alliance since 1919. The primary emphasis of Mahaffey Camp is the ten-day Family Camp, which always ends on the last Sunday of July. Since 1976, a playground area for children and recreation field for youth have been utilized for afternoon Family Camp activities. In 2000, Youth Camps were initiated in the month of June. Currently, thirteen summer youth camps are offered over a five-week period. In addition, outreach events began in 2002.
The Camp was founded by Rev. William Bryenton, a Methodist minister, when he chose a beautiful pine grove area to hold a camp meeting. At the success of the first meeting, Bryenton and his congregation decided to make the meeting an annual event. The Camp’s first name was “The Susquehanna Park Holiness Camp Meeting Association.” However, in 1913, the camp was transferred to the Christian and Missionary Alliance, and the name was shortened to “Mahaffey Camp.”
The camp’s early meetings drew families from up to 50 miles away—families who would come to camp, pitch their canvas tents, and listen to the Bible speakers preach their messages on an open-air platform. With each passing year, the camp’s number of attendees rose. Baptismal services began to be held for believers in the Susquehanna River.
No camp meeting was held in the year 1943 because of World War II. The Tabernacle and store were shut down, and the grounds were empty of people. Many of the men were at war.
In 1972, Mr. Quay Owens, the District President of Alliance Men, and the Reverend F. Paul Henry, District Superintendent, approached the owners of the adjoining acreage in hopes of obtaining additional land to add on to the camp as a camping area for recreational vehicles. They were granted this land, an extra 13.12 acres, to the delight of many. The Owens house was then added across the road as a dormitory for speakers.
In the early 1990’s, a Camp Director/Developer was hired to manage the camp and expand its operations. In 1992, the camp developed its own constitution, remaining a subordinate and having amenability to the Western PA District of The Christian and Missionary Alliance.
Following the Master Plan of Development adopted in 1981, the following has been accomplished: Dorm 1 was demolished, Dorm 2 was upgraded with exterior siding, two longhouse dormitories were built, interior roadways were constructed, a Pavilion was added in the East Trailer area and the recreation field was expanded with a paved basketball court. A new Dining Hall building was erected in 1994 when heavy snowfall severely damaged the old Dining Hall.
From 1996 to 2000, the entrance of the camp was paved, along with many roadways. Several other facilities were upgraded, including the Director’s Office expansion, a new roof was added onto the bookstore, and the Bell Tower was restored.
Since 2001, many projects have taken place. Renovations to the exteriors and landscaping have taken place for the camp store, camp house, Main Tabernacle, Youth Tabernacle, Dorm 5, and Longhouses. 30 additional sites have been created in the West and North RV areas. The Playground and North Recreation Field have been constructed and remodeled, and the Camp Entrance has been landscaped as well. In the winter of 2009, sewage installation began throughout the campgrounds, resulting in the 209 connections to the Mahaffey Municipal Authority’s plant. Brand new restroom and shower facilities were constructed in the West RV area and the North/East area. The Bookstore, attached to the Main Tabernacle, was enclosed in 2011 to create an additional meeting space for small group retreats and an enclosed space for the Family Camp bookstore. Currently, the camp is in Phase II of the construction of the new Children’s Ministry Worship Center.
Since the initiation of Mahaffey Camp in 1894, the camp has served to proclaim the word of God in a dynamic way. People have responded to the Gospel and prayed for healing and salvation at the altars of the Tabernacles. Lifelong friendships have been made through the various programs offered at the camp. Many of the official workers of the Christian and Missionary Alliance have their own testimonies to tell about their call to service experienced at Mahaffey Camp. Mahaffey’s ministry has proven not just to evoke passing emotions, but rather to spur life-changing decisions that have dramatically altered the history of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.