By Alex Lee
The Indian Lake Nazarene Camp (ILNC) sits quietly along the shores of Indian Lake in Brady Township. It reaches slightly into Pavilion Township. It’s one of 36 Nazarene Camps in the U.S. and Canada.
There are a number of books and articles written about the history of the camp, some not always in agreement on exact dates and numbers. But consensus says the camp was born in 1926 with the purchase of two acres on what’s known to locals as “the point,” and 30 acres of open field. The point property included lake frontage, three small cottages, a boathouse, and a half-burned hotel.
Early camp visionaries and guests stayed mostly in tents, and all historical accounts seem to mention mosquitoes and poison ivy as formidable challenges in the development of the camp. The early vision saw the land around Indian Lake as “hallowed ground.” Baptisms were performed in the lake, a tradition that continues today.
Today’s ILNC consists of 260 acres, hotel style rooms, group dorms, rustic cabins, recreational vehicle (RV) lots, campsites, a marina, a snack bar and dining hall, a museum and a sizeable permanent community, according to David Becker, camp executive director. There are currently 193 lease-held properties in the camp of which around 100 are year-round residents.
The camp also has a nine-hole disc golf course and miles of beautiful trails, teeming with wildlife and wildflowers, along the east end of the camp that borders the Portage River. The camp operates with a strong good-neighbor policy hosting high school cross country events and welcoming visitors to the camp.
Becker says, “we do a lot of business interacting with the community through short-term visits. When area families host family reunions, many times attendance exceeds accommodations, and we can help with short term rentals. We ask guests to observe our no tobacco and alcohol rules while they’re here, but strengthening families and relationships is what we’re all about.”
Becker started his 40-year association with the Nazarene Church as pastor of a small congregation in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and has been the director at ILNC for the past 7 years. The camp operates like a small village with its own water system, maintenance department and administrative staff. Becker will be retiring in July of this year.
The camp marina has a unique relationship with Indian Lake riparian (lakefront) owners. Since there is no public access on the lake, owners pay a yearly fee to tag their boats with ILNC identification stickers and launch and remove their boats at the marina. Lake residents are also fond of dropping by the camp snack bar for ice cream and a meal during the summer months. Many lake residents became familiar with the area by attending yearly ILNC summer youth camps. While there may be signs that mark the camp’s boundaries, they in no way seem to separate the camp from the neighborhood and broader community. That may be the greatest testament to the goal of building relationships. More information can be obtained at http://www.indianlake.camp.
Nazarene Camp: Community within a community
By Alex Lee