How The First Million Lives Were Impacted
Impact 2818 is the product of over 90 years of history. It consists of seven unique camp sites operating as a one single ministry. These camps were born out of, and continue to be a significant ministry of, the Indiana Conference United Methodist Church.
In 2002, the four camps from the former North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, Epworth Forest Conference Center, Camp Adventure, Pine Creek Camp and Camp Lakewood were merged. These four existing camp sites became one purpose driven, cooperative, camping ministry known as Impact 2818. This merge allowed the newly created cooperative to form a more effective, relevant and progressive camping ministry that connects young campers and their families to Jesus Christ.
In 2009, Impact 2818 joined forces with The Outdoor Ministries of the South Indiana Conference camps. This ministry now has seven camp sites and multiple programming and retreat options to serve the unique needs of all.
It’s difficult to provide an exact number on just how many people the collective camping ministries of the UMC have impacted over their 90+ years of evangelism and service. Our programmed summer camps and facilities for retreats have served the spiritual needs of over a million people. Bishops, pastors, teachers, fathers, business leaders, children…all and so many more have had their lives altered as they encounter God in a unique and uncommon place.
In the year 1928, during Senior High Institute at Epworth Forest, a small group of young boys met under the direction of Edgar Moore for the beginning of what was called Boyville. 33 boys slept in tents and enjoyed a program of games, military drills, boating, swimming, athletic events and religious services. Boyville continued to grow, and in 1933 Moore Hall was constructed by a group of volunteers. A similar program was started for girls and was called Girlville. This was held in private cottages on the grounds.
In 1941 Boyville and Girlville were merged into Camp Adventure (held at EFCC), a camp for Junior High age youth. Pell Lodge was the central building for Camp Adventure, and six log cabins were clustered near it. More cabins were built in the l950’s. Because of continuing growth, and the lack of space for expansion, a new site was suggested for Camp Adventure.
Epworth Hills (known as the Back 40) was purchased in 1958. This was to be the new site for Camp Adventure. Then, in 1961, a farm of 110 acres with frontage on Backwater Lake was purchased. One third of the tract is solid ground and the rest is swampy area and includes part of a large island and three or four smaller islands. The camp was ready for use in 1962.
It has continued to grow, and more buildings have been added. Lookout Lodge is winterized and open for retreats all year. Camp Adventure also has a high and low ropes course, a swimming pool, paintball and THE BLOB! Meals are prepared and served in Lookout Lodge.
Long before Impact 2818, computers, and Pop-Rocks…organized youth ministry was being birthed by the Methodist Church, the Epworth League, which later became known as MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). This group developed ground breaking concepts of week long events for youth to gather, worship, study scripture and fellowship. They called the camp, Institute.
Institute first began in 1916 meeting at an Evangelical United Bretheren Camp, Oakwood Park. The camp quickly outgrew the facility and purchased Epworth Forest Conference Center in 1923 on the shores of Lake Webster. The first buildings constructed were the Auditorium, Epworth Hotel with a kitchen and dining room (Freeland House) and a craft hall. The first Senior High Institute at Epworth Forest Conference Center was held in 1924 with 1,334 youth registered.
Since that early beginning, Epworth Forest Conference Center has continued to grow and continues to be the site for Senior High programming, as well as for Camp REYOAD, a camp for adults with special needs, and Royal Family Kids Camp, a partnership camp for at risk children.
The basic property of 150 acres was acquired in 1954 with the 36.08 acres parcel lying to the East acquired in 1973.
The Camp is located approximately 5 miles from Monroe Reservoir which is north on State Road 37. The city of Bloomington is located to the north approximately 15 miles.
The first buildings built on the camp was Crawford Hall, 14 rustic cabins, Site managers residence, Maintenance building, tabernacle and a bath house. In 1968 Merryman Center was added and remolded in 2005 and 2008. In 1973 the swimming pool was installed. The pool was updated in 2005. In 1986 a small bath house was added by cabin 4 along with 4 shelter houses around the camp.
In 1999 the Armstrong Center was built with a conference room and dining hall for 250 seats.
In 2001 Camp Indicoso had two cabins built with AC/Heat for year round use and a new pool bath house with heat so it could be used year round. Also a 35’ climbing wall was added to the camp.
In 1954, Mr. Elmer Seagley donated his 92 acres of land to the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Blessed by this generous donation, the church then built Lakewood Lodge and used the site as a summer camp for elementary age students.
When the Evangelical United Brethren and the Methodist churches joined in 1968, Camp Lakewood became part of the camping ministry of the North Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. The camp continued to serve elementary age students.
The site is nestled on spring-fed Lake of the Woods lake in Wolcottville, IN. The wooded property extends halfway around the lake and provides a wonderful beach front for our campers and guests. Camp Lakewood serves over 700 elementary-aged campers each summer with a capacity to serve 116 campers and volunteers each week.
The camp was not named Moneto until 1969-70. For most of the 1960s, the name was simply “Methodist Camp” but often referred to in churches as the “Brown County Camp.” The first building was a metal frame bam with windows and a concrete floor built only a few yards beyond the property line.
The land for Camp Moneto was purchased in the early 1960s. It was an offshoot of Camp Rivervale. Rivervale’s tent camping program had become part of a widespread movement organized by the National Council of Churches in the mid-1950s. This movement was known as decentralized small group camping.These family groups lived in tents, cooked some of their meals over a camp fire, made hobo stoves and mud ovens, built a “home-in-the-woods,” planned their own activities such as lashing together a rope monkey bridge over a deep ravine, and applied Biblical passages to their interests and common experiences as a group. This approach to church camping was quite innovative at the time.
A major development and undertaking occurred in 1968 with construction of a road up the steep side of the west ridge. This feat required major road building equipment. At the top of the ridge, a large and very well-built shelter house with a stone fireplace was completed which, in later years, served as the core for construction of a lodge. A shower house was built diagonally across the road. Hogans and tent platforms were then moved from the middle ridge to locations spread out along the west ridge. With development of the west ridge, the camp could now accommodate up to 60 young people or 6 family groups for grades 5 and 6 junior camp) or 7 and 8 junior high camp).
Pine Creek Camp, located in West Central Indiana, was purchased in 1957 to assist in expanding the camping ministry in the Northwest Indiana Conference. When the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren churches merged in 1968, Pine Creek became part of the North Indiana Camping ministry. Pine Creek Camp consists of over 332 acres. Its main focus is Elementary, Family and Jr. High camps and retreats
Exciting program features include; Goliath the Giant Swing, Jr. Olympic swimming pool, creek tubing, horseback riding, the climbing wall and vertical challenge course.
Pine Creek is a rustic site with some year around facilities. With only 25 percent of its land developed, there is a great potential for growth and expansion in the future with an emphasis on the ever growing populations in and around Indianapolis, IN.
In 1817 Bishop Robert R. Roberts journeyed to Southern Indiana with his wife, Elizabeth, to look over a plot of land. He had seen the place three years before but had not bought it.
Elected the year before by the General Conference in Baltimore, Bishop Robert knew that the center of his activities as a frontier bishop would not lie in Philadelphia or Baltimore but in the west in Indiana or Illinois.
The place he chose was in southeastern Lawrence County near Bono. Lawrenceport was not in existence. The land was more fertile than in Pennsylvania’s Shenango Valley. He then selected a site for a log cabin. From time to time he added to his land holdings until he had approximately 1000 acres.
In 1923 the Indiana Conference accepted a gift of 65 acres from the Conference Epworth League Institute. This gift was made up of twenty acres which were originally donated by Mrs. Nellie G. and Virginia Rose Fitzgibbons, direct descendants of Bishop Roberts. Forty additional acres were purchased from her in later years. Our grounds are a part of Bishop Roberts Farm. Since then the Conference has purchased eleven acres along the river bank, which really are the bluff, so that now have a total of 76 acres.
From the very beginning camping was popular. The first camping sessions were held at Bishop Roberts Park in 1924 with tents being used for housing. In 1925 there were 1400 enrolled for the one week’s institute. At that time the only permanent structure was the Tabernacle, a large building of steel frame used for church services, plays and meetings.
Between 1927 and 1930 the seven district houses were built. For years the districts each maintained their own houses and fed and housed their own district groups. These district houses were the Bloomington House, Columbus, Evansville, Indianapolis, New Albany, Rushville, and the Vincennes House. There was great rivalry in sports and other activities. Institutes were still limited to one week.
After World War II the institutes became more and more popular until not one but several weeks of the program were developed, with the district houses under the supervision of the Conference Board of Education. This meant that the houses lost their distinctiveness as district houses and were each put to different uses.
These houses served the needs of the camp until the 1960’s when they were replaced with the three year round lodges that are presently used. Bloomington House is still used during the summer months and is the only remaining district house.
In the 1960’s a recreational vehicle campground with water and electrical hookups for 40 camp sites were added. At this time, this area is not used except for tent camping. Also a swimming pool was constructed at this time but has since been replaced with our current pool. Various remodeling and improvement projects have been on going especially with the Lilly Grant we received in 1993.
There are several points of interest on the grounds. A beautiful view can be found at Inspiration Point. Oak Tree Shrine with its stone lectern and Bible makes an ideal place for outside meetings and worship.
And so from the beginning in 1817 this is ground hallowed by many memories for the Methodist people. From the rough wilderness to a bishop’s farm, to a camp and institute for Methodist people this place has developed in beauty and usefulness. With hard-surfaced roadways, plantings of shrubs and trees, buildings for housing, eating, administration and worship and a chapel for meditation it continues to attract hundreds each summer. The future is bright with the promise of other facilities. We Methodists of the Indiana Conference can be proud of our Bishop Roberts Park at Rivervale.