Camp Edwards is governed by the same Mission the YMCA established all those years ago, “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build a healthy mind, body and spirit for all”. Through the general make up of camp, we encourage exercise, creativity and peaceful reflection in the environment that God has created.
In 1928, the Elgin (IL) YMCA embarked on the monumental task of finding the ideal property for a summer camp for boys. A committee was formed, and they set out to look throughout Northern Illinois, Northern Indian, Western Michigan, and Southern Wisconsin for the future camp. After traveling hundreds of miles, the committee could not decide on the same piece of land but knew it had to have a great lake for recreation.
At the last location they were to visit, they parked their cars in an open area in the woods, well away from the traffic and neighbors. As the men walked through the heavy woods and over a hill, they found themselves looking over the pristine waters of Lake Beulah. Isolated from any buildings, except for a few lake homes hidden in the woods across from where they were standing, the men became acutely aware of the sounds of nature all around them. It was at this time the countless days and hundreds of miles of traveling came to an end as the committee finally, and unanimously, agreed that they found the spot for the camp.
A.D. Edwards, a long time philanthropic Elgin citizen and Foundry owner, challenged the YMCA to match his $16,000 donation to purchase and build the camp. It was almost unbelievable that within a week, the matching funds were raised and the Elgin YMCA had $40,000 in hand to purchase and build the camp.
Throughout 1928 and 1929, contractors, board members, and volunteers constructed 10 cabins and Totem Lodge (later renamed Micklewright Lodge), drilled wells, laid plumbing and established telephone and electrical lines, and in June 1929, the camp saw their first campers.
The camp was named Camp Edwards in honor of Mr. & Mrs. A.D. Edwards, not only for their initial gift, but their continuous support in bringing camp into reality.
This is not a complete history of the camp, as history is being made every day. For a further detailed history of our great camp, feel free to call the Executive Director, Jody Heimos, for more information at 262-642-7466, ext. 403.