Camp was established in 1952, and was originally located on ten acres
of land on the shore of Chautauqua Lake. Many lives were changed through
the ministry that took place through the years there. In the 1970s, it
became apparent that the property and facilities were not going to be
sufficient for the long term.
1974, the health department made the determination that the septic
system would have to be replaced or the camp must be closed. This and
several other factors caused the leadership to purchase 170 acres of
land at the present site just east of Sinclairville, NY to begin
building a new camp.
In 1976, the last year that Bethany operated at the old site, the music
camp (attended by about 80 campers) did a floating concert, both choral
and instrumental, on the Chautauqua Belle while getting off the boat to
entertain people at various locations.
1975 through 1977, several buildings were constructed, including,
Applewood Lodge, the director's home, and several cabins. These
buildings were dedicated on July 23, 1977 and the camp began operation
at the present location that summer. Throughout the process of moving to
the new location, the camp incurred a debt of around $300,000. It was a
significant event in the history of the camp when the mortgage was
burned in 1997.
Lewis was the first full-time director of Bethany Camp. He began his
service in 1972 before the move from Chautauqua Lake and continued until
1986. Mike Nelson served as the director from 1987 until 1990. He was
followed by David Lewis from 1991 through 1999. Dick Warshuis served
as the director from 1999 until 2003. The current director, Greg Frank,
began his ministry in 2004.
the original buildings in the late 1970s there have been many
improvements made to the facilities. In the 1980s, Spruce Lane was
built and the current swimming pond was created to replace the
lakefront. In addition, the craft shop/snack shack was built and the
"tabins" were retired. In the 1990s, Walnut Grove was built, and the
old bathhouse was turned into the speakers cabin. 40 additional acres
were purchased and donated to the camp.
recent years, many programming attractions have been added and major
remodeling of bathrooms and cabins has taken place as well as adding a
maintenance building, replacing several cabins, building new staff homes and new building with a speakers apartment, housing for support staff and an additional meeting room. The current facilities will accommodate about 250
people at one time, and the camp now owns 213 acres.
the years, much has changed about the ministry of Bethany Camp. New
properties, facilities and staff have come and gone. One thing does
remain and that is the steadfastness to serving the Lord. Currently, we
have three full time staff families here at camp, several full time volunteers, and our summer staff
has over 40 paid staff positions each week.
strive to complete our mission “to create an environment for spiritual growth and change”, in everything we
do. We trust that God will use us and this incredible place that
belongs to Him for many years to come.