History of SAMBICA

For 105 years, youth have been inspired to a relationship with Jesus Christ at the Sammamish Bible Camp Association. See how SAMBICA went from small gatherings on the beach to a camping  ministry serving thousands a year.
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1919 The Start of SAMBICA

In the early 1900’s Reverend Paul Rood of the Swedish Tabernacle Church makes a proposition to his congregation: purchasing a piece of land on the lake to enjoy during the summer months as a church. The proposal is put to a vote and the congregation votes no! Rev. Rood and his friend John Isaacson of Isaacson Ironworks get together with six other families and purchase the property anyway. SAMBICA (Sammamish Bible Camp Association) is established.

1920's-1930's Investing in Youth

The Young People’s Conferences at SAMBICA begin. High school and college age students come from all over the greater Puget Sound to hear some of the greatest traveling evangelists of the time. In those early years, SAMBICA is the only “light on the lake” during the winter months as the majority of Lake Sammamish is undeveloped. All meetings are held in platform tents along the shore until the construction of the Tabernacle (read more about the history of the Tabernacle).

The first boy’s camp is held in the early 1930s when Dr. Annis Jepson and his wife Ruby become the leaders of the camp. Dr. Jepson, a chiropractor in the city of Issaquah, and Ruby, world-renowned opera singer, together develop the property into a summer camp for boys. It isn’t too long thereafter that camps for girls are added.

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1940's - 1970's Expanding

SAMBICA becomes more accessible and popular with the addition of the floating bridge connecting Seattle to the Eastside. Previously campers took ferry boats across Lake Washington from Seattle to get to the camp. Bellevue starts to become more than “a one-road town.”

In the 50's a roof is added to the Picnic Shelter, creating the Dining Hall as we know it today. This begins the process of new additions to SAMBICA, including the first ever SAMBICA waterslide!

The SAMBICA Horse Program begins in the 60's, allowing campers to experience horse-back riding on SAMBICA’s then 20-acre property.

In the 70's, SAMBICA is forced to sell off 10-acres of camp to the State of Washington for the construction of I-90. Despite the loss of land, SAMBICA continues to grow by purchasing its first jet boat for water-skiing and creating a SAMBICA day care.

1980's-1990's Connecting the Camp

The famous SAMBICA overpass over West Lake Sammamish Parkway is added to connect the upper part of camp with the lower. The addition makes crossing the road safer as Bellevue becomes a more popular place to live.

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2000's - 2018 Nearing the Centennial

A high ropes course complete with three challenges, a zip line and a low-ropes course is built, allowing campers the unique opportunity to walk above the trees.

2019-now 100+ Years of Light

2019 was SAMBICA’s centennial year. With the addition of new programming, more youth than ever heard the Gospel of Christ. A Centennial Celebration was held at camp on August 10th, 2019 with hundreds coming back home to relive their camp glory days. SAMBICA adapted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, allowing summer to remain open, more school-year programming offered than ever before, and new enhancements made throughout camp. The upper field was turfed, The Activity Building was constructed, SAM's Place remodeled, the Vertical Play Pen was built, and the Upper Sand Volleyball Courts were added.

Please continue to pray for the hearts of youth coming to SAMBICA now and for the next 100 years that they would be inspired to a relationship with Jesus Christ.

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