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3300 River Road
Mount Bethel, PA 18343

(570) 897-6000

Christian retreat center for New Jersey and Pennsylvania marriage retreat, singles retreat, women's retreat and youth summer camp in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

Tales of Tuscarora

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Give Thanks to the Lord: Olsen Activity Center


Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!

-Psalm 107:1

In this season of giving thanks, Tales of Tuscarora will be dedicated during the month of November to highlighting and celebrating some of the most special parts of our history and our ministry that have been made possible because of the Tuscarora family.


There is possibly no building on the grounds of Tuscarora that has housed more significant moments than what is currently known as the Olsen Activity Center. Construction on the Olav B. Olsen Auditorium was completed by Olsen and Lawson in 1975 and was used for a main meeting area for our guests for more than 30 years until the Senum Thompson Center was built.

Sara Pensyl, Program Manager at Tuscarora, tells you her favorite story of this special place below.

Pensyl Family.JPG

The date was July 7, 1994. I was a first time Junior Week camper. The speaker was Pastor John Blikstad. Serendipitously, my counselor was Janice Olsen - Olav B. Olsen's granddaughter.

I remember sitting in the old yellow plastic chairs that used to be set up on the volleyball court for sessions. As a fidgeting young girl, I remember how loudly they would scrape on the floor when I moved. The Lord had been working on my heart all week, and by Thursday evening I was ready to step into a new adventure.

When the speaker made the invitation to come forward, everyone was praying and our heads were down, until suddenly my body just rose and started heading toward the stage. Since then I've always felt like in that moment Jesus moved my legs.

At the time, the bottom part of the stage in the gymnasium would pull out when more space was needed. I remember stepping up onto the lower platform and thinking, "What am I doing up here?" The Pastor looked down at us all and walked us through the sinner's prayer and I walked back to my seat forgiven and accepted by Christ.

It's been a huge part of my husband Marc's story as well, coming to know Christ in February of 2000 at Senior High Winter Weekend. We've kept coming back to Tuscarora, coming back permanently when I began my job as Program Manager last August. I don't know of many people who get to see their story come entirely full circle - but I know my story will be book ended by the Olsen Activity Center.

I can still tell you exactly where my seat was that day, when God grasped my heart and didn't let go. My Tuscarora story started right there in that square of floor. Today, I have the blessing of working at Tuscarora, and the gym is currently under construction as it finds it's new identity for the generations ahead. It's so exciting to see it evolve, but there is a part of me that hopes it doesn't change too much so that my son Michael can have his own special moments in the years ahead.