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OUR HISTORY

Bethany Camp Inc. was founded in 1952 on the Chautauqua Lake waterfront located in Western NY. The original location of the camp sat on 10 acres of shoreline, and many lives were changed through the ministry that took place there for nearly 25 years. In the 1970's, it became apparent that the property and facilities were not going to be sufficient for the long run.

 

In 1974, The Health Department made the decision that the camp's septic system would have to be replaced or the camp would be shut down. This and many other factors, drove the leadership of the camp to purchase 170 acres of land located 5 miles east of Sinclairville, NY to begin building a new facility at our current location.

 

In 1976, the last year that Bethany Camp operated on the Chautauqua Lake property, the music camp was attended by nearly 80 campers who ran a floating concert on the Chautauqua Belle while getting off the boat to entertain people at various locations.

 

From 1975 through 1977, several buildings were constructed including Applewood Lodge and the director's home, which are both still in existence.  Several other cabins and "tabins" were constructed to house the campers. On July 23rd, 1977, the dedication of these buildings took place and operation of Bethany Camp began that Summer. Throughout the process of moving the camp to Sinclairville and construction of the new buildings, the camp incurred a debt of nearly $300,000. It was a great victory in the history of Bethany Camp when that mortgage was burned in 1997.

 

Warren Lewis served as the first Full-Time Executive Director of Bethany Camp. He began his service in 1972 before the move from the lakefront and continued serving until 1986. Mike Nelson then became the new director and served from 1987-1990. He was then followed by David Lewis, who served from 1991-1999. Dick Warnshuis then served from 1999-2003 and he was followed by our current Executive Director Greg Frank who started his ministry at Bethany Camp in 2004.

 

Since the original buildings built in the 1970's, there have been many upgrades and improvements made to the facilities throughout the years. In the 1980's, Spruce Lane was constructed and the current swimming pond was dug to replace the lakefront that is located on the Eastside of our property. In addition, the craft shop/snack shack was built and the old "tabins" were retired. In the 1990's, Walnut Grove was constructed and the old bathhouse was turned into the speakers cabin, which later was updated again to what is now Hemlock Hill. 40 additional acres were also purchased and donated to the camp during this time. 

 

In recent years, many programming attractions have been added and major remodeling or replacement of all of the lodging buildings has taken place. Before the Summer of 2022, we will have built or remodeled all the cabins that house campers! Our current buildings can house up to 256 people, plus two apartments for our Internship & Gap year students. We also have five staff homes that house our permanent staff & their families

 

Throughout the years, much has changed about the ministry of Bethany Camp. Properties, facilities, attractions, and people have come and gone, but one thing has never changed, the steadfastness to serving the Lord. 

 

We strive to complete our mission "to create an environment for spiritual growth & change", in everything that we do. We trust that God will use us and this incredible place that He has given to us for many years to come!

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