SLUMBER FALLS CAMP HISTORY
Slumber Falls Camp is located a few miles
from downtown New Braunfels on River Road alongside the
shores of the Guadalupe River where the river makes a
turn between two huge cypress trees.
In the 1890’s Joseph Landa purchased a large parcel of
land. History notes the use of the land by locals as a
popular swimming and picnicking site. During the 1930’s,
Harry Landa (Joseph’s son) sold 20 acres in the
Verarnendi survey to W. V. & Francis Schulz Lillie and
it was developed into a tourist court with a panoramic
view of the Guadalupe River.
Victor Silvas was hired as the gardener. He planted and
maintained the crepe myrtle along the river by the
bathhouse and several beautiful flowerbeds around the
camp. During this period, retaining walls were built as
well as steps to the river. A license plate dated 1935
is embedded in the riser of the top step as well as the
names Herman, Francis, and Will (referring to the
Lillies and her brother Herman Schrader) inscribed in
the concrete step with a date of 1932.
It is reported that the name of Slumber Falls came from
Mr. Lillie as he remarked that it was so peaceful by the
river it would be a good place to sleep.
Mrs. Lillie and her brother, Herman Schrader a
carpenter, built 11 cabins one at a time as they could
afford it. The first one constructed was Whip-0-Will.
Heigh Ho was known as the honeymoon cabin. The tourist
court was advertised as “Paradise of the Hills.”
Rates for cottages with linens, cookware, dishes and
silver provided were: Single cottage $2.00-2.25; Double
cottage $3.00-3.50 and weekends were $1.00/per person/
per cabin/per day. The cottages were furnished with a
dresser, icebox and hot plate.
In 1946, Mrs. Lillie, then a widow, sold the tourist
court to her 2 nephews and a third party for $33,000.00.
The war brought changes to the life styles of people and
the tourist court suffered. In 1957 a terrible drought
caused the Guadalupe River to virtually dry up. This was
the final blow. The tourist court was closed and the
nephews decided to sell.
At the 1956 annual meeting of the Texas Synod of the
Evangelical and Reformed Church, the delegates voted to
obtain a permanent campsite to promote Christian
During September 1957 Alvin Blome and the Houston
Brotherhood became aware of a property in Comal County
for sale through the communication of Wilton Warnecke of
New Braunfels. The present site was highly recommended
by Fred Woelke. He and his wife Hilda spent their
honeymoon in Rio Vista cabin on the Guadalupe River.
The asking price was $16,500.00. The only stipulation
was that the contract and earnest money had to be given
before the end of the year due to tax considerations.
The Rev. Herman and Martha Borne got the ball rolling
with a loan from their own personal savings. By midnight
on December 31, 1957 $5,000.00 in earnest money was
delivered to seal the purchase of Slumber Falls. The
amount consisted of the Borne money, funds from a Mr.
Brown of Schulenburg, and the remainder in a check from
the Weimar Church Brotherhood. The Rev Frank Horak was
able to secure financing at 3% interest from the Hill
Bank & Trust of Weimar to complete the purchase.
Unused for two years, the camp was in need of a variety
of repairs. Volunteers from around the conference
pitched in to make the site ready for the first camping
season. Emil Dischinger was hired as the first caretaker
in February and remained for 17 years. Dedication day
was June 1, 1958. Junior, Junior High, and Senior camps
were held during that first summer with an all-volunteer
staff. By the winter of ‘58-’59, a three room
caretaker’s house had been constructed. That facility is
currently used as the camp office.
Slumber Falls Camp provided the bare minimum required
for a successful outdoor ministry program. The dining
hall was an open-air facility with tarps over a
makeshift frame and a gravel floor with flies galore!
Over the years many improvements have been added.
Campers used to swim in the river before a pool was
built in 1961. In 1964, the dining hall was finally
enclosed and in 1969 the first two winterized cabins
(Borne and Memorial Cottages) were constructed.
Following Mr. Dischinger’s retirement in the early 70’s,
Harvey Isleib was hired to be the site manager for the
next 12 years. A new house was constructed for the
Isleib’s and dedicated as the Haver House in October
1975. Even after retirement from Slumber Falls, Ruby Lee
“Skipper” Isleib has been a regular summer program
volunteer and Harvey helped with a variety of
projects. In 1993 a “Shelter of Memories” was
constructed near the pool in honor of the Isleib’s 50th
Delicious camp food has always been a part of the
Slumber Falls experience. One of the first cooks was
Alice Sakowitz. Following her tenure, three cousins,
Ruby Behrendt, Della Heimer, and Lillian Farr started
cooking and continued as a mainstay in the kitchen for
twenty years. They may best be remembered for their
famous “coffee can bread.”
During the 1960’s and 70’s the camp was administered by
volunteers such as Rev. Fred Woelke, Rev. Ray Buck Jr.,Rev. Barney
Federwisch, and Rev. Al Hennig. In 1979 the first paid
administrator, Rev. Ray Bizer was hired part-time to
coordinate the activities of the camp. After Rev. Bizer
left, Dwayne Wuneburger served as interim site manager
for a year.1986 saw the hiring of the first full-time
administrator, the Rev. Mark Sirnic. Soon afterward,
Mrs. Charlene Nolte was hired as secretary. Following
the service of Rev. Sirnic, the Rev. Frank Horak served
as interim administrator from June 1992 till February
1993. In the spring of that year the Rev. Richard Carse
took over the operation of the camp until November of
1994. Upon his leaving, the Camp Council undertook
oversight of the operation with Site Manager Charles
Moore, Program Coordinator Otis Naron, and Charlene
Nolte running the office. A few years later it was
deemed necessary to return to a full-time administrator
with the hiring of the Rev. Charles Stark in the late
spring of 1997.
During the 1980’s a new section of the camp was opened
with the building of the Retreat Center which houses 32
campers and offers two meeting rooms and a small kitchen
in the Koinonia Lodge. Another addition to the camp was
the Bruce Triesch Pavilion dedicated June 8, 1980.
In the early 90’s, one of the older screen cabins, “Joy
Within” was taken down to make way for a new facility
built with funds from the Erwin and Emma Muehl estate.
This beautifully constructed cabin can accommodate 20
campers. 1995 saw the construction of a beautiful new
paved entrance road to the camp. “Vicki’s Haven,”
completed in 1998, is a facility designed to house
long-term volunteers and the SALT (Summer Adult
Leadership Team) workers. This project was primarily
funded by memorial contributions in memory of Vicki
Kizer (Palm) Feyen, a long time supporter of the camping
program. Kelsey Lodge, dedicated in 2002 in memory
of Kelsey Oberrender, provides additional meeting space
and kitchen facilities. The addition of Horak Court, a
covered multi-use outdoor facility, was completed in May
2003 and dedicated at the 45th Anniversary in September
of that year. The latest addition to the camp is
Jeannette’s Wing. This extension of Woelke Lodge,
dedicated in April 2007 in memory of Jeannette Marquis,
serves as a recreation and meeting room.