In 1955, Charlie Leach and a group of devout Christian men contemplated building a summer camp for Southeastern Ontario. They came across the Derbyshire farm on Wolfe Lake and although the road was impassable, they walked in on foot. The men prayed, asking God for guidance and wisdom. With resounding clarity, they knew in their hearts that the farm was the perfect location for a retreat centre and children’s camp.
Charlie and two other men felt powerfully compelled by God to make an offer of $5,000 and 25 years to pay Mrs. Derbyshire who lived in Westport. En route to the meeting, they stopped in a Westport restaurant and were informed that another organization was offering $30,000 cash for the farm — far more than what they had available. Concerned but undeterred, Charlie and the committee proceeded with the meeting and by God’s grace, came face-to-face with a wonderful Christian woman.
Mrs. Derbyshire was receptive to their plan, noting that their proposal and vision for the property was exactly what her late husband would have wanted for the future of the farm. From this humble beginning, IAWAH has since grown into a year-round centre for learning, adventure and growth. Thousands of people, both young and old, have met the Lord at IAWAH, while others have grown deeper roots of faith. Today, we continue to journey with youth as they grow in leadership and intimacy with God.