July History Article: 95 Years Ago – Summer Camp for Children and Youth

Last month I wrote about a playground for children established at the rear of the church building in 1911 during the pastorate of Dr. Hiram Kellogg. Another example of ground breaking ministries to children and youth, during Kellogg’s tenure as pastor from 1910-1916, was the establishment of a camp for youth on the banks of the Olentangy River in the summer of 1916. That was 95 years ago!

An article in the Ohio State Journal describes the camp as a dream come true for the campers, “That’s just the dream that they’re making come true for hundreds of youngsters at the camp of the Broad Street M.E. Church at Flint on the Columbus, Delaware and Marion traction line. Seventeen tents have been pitched at the top of the picturesque ravine that leads to the Olentangy River, just south of Camp Johnson.”

A word of explanation is needed for the newspaper article to make sense in today’s world. The CDM (Columbus, Delaware and Marion) traction line was an electric inter-urban train line which ran from Columbus to Bucyrus. The line was abandoned in the early 1930s, during the years of the Great Depression. The Flint stop on that line would have been near the intersection of North High Street and Flint Road in Worthington. The ravine follows Flint Run as it flows westward to the Olentangy River. Camp Johnson was at the location of the present-day Camp Mary Orton, operated by the Godman Guild – although the Godman Guild did not send campers there until four years later, in 1920. Therefore, the Broad Street Church camp would have been on the banks of the Olentangy, just west of the Pontifical College Josephinum and south of Camp Mary Orton.

The Journal article continues, “This week closes a two-weeks camping period for a bunch of 50 boys, who have soaked in the joy of outdoor life for 14 days – and all for $4 a week. Monday the camp will be turned over to the girls for a two-weeks period, open to any girl in the city. After that period, until Aug. 15, the camp will again be given to the boys. … It is expected that more than 300 boys and girls will take advantage of the camp before it closes …”

Mr. Charles F. Lender was the director of the camp. Lender had been added to the church staff as the full-time director of recreation in 1914 when the church gymnasium and recreation hall, now known as Kellogg Hall, were first opened.

The children’s playground in 1911, the building addition (including the gymnasium and recreation room) and the hiring of Lender in 1914, the first vacation bible school in 1915, and the summer camp in 1916 were all accomplished during Kellogg’s six-year pastorate. It is not known how long the church continued to have the summer camp or the playground; but, Kellogg’s vision for outreach and ministry to those not being otherwise served set a “high bar” for the church and its future leaders, both lay and clergy.

–  Jim Barbee, Historian

Sources:

  • Harriett D. Collins, Endless Splendor. Columbus: Broad Street Methodist Church, 1959, pp 44-50
  • Church Camp at Flint, The Ohio State Journal. Columbus, 16 July 1916 Society Section, p 3 Godman Guild, http://www.godmanguild.org/about-2/historical/ Accessed 27 June 2011
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