LIGONIER (KDKA) — One of America’s oldest continuously running summer camps is marking a milestone this year.
The Ligonier Camp and Conference Center is celebrating its 100th birthday.
Jet ski tubing was not on the recreational calendar when the First Presbyterian Church Camp opened in 1914. The camp has since become interdenominational. Tents have given way to comparatively comfortable huts. And the lake was purchased in 2009.
“It opened in 2012,” says executive director Patrick Myers. “And now it’s a highlight of all of our kids’ experiences as they come out to camp.”
He says the camping experience hasn’t changed much over the past century.
“It’s one of those places where kids have great experiences, and then they want their kids and then they want their kids,” Myers said. “So it’s definitely a place that has had a pretty deep legacy.”
He and his future wife were both counselors at the camp when they first met in 1995. Of course, their kids have also attended. And the numbers have grown.
“We recruit kids from all over the place,” Myers says. “From all different churches, from all different schools. This summer we’ll have just about 1,900 kids that have come through our summer program.”
The age range is 6 to 17. But if you’re too old to camp, you could always come back as a counselor, like Emily Shearman and Stephanie Walker. Those 600 acres keep calling.
“It was just the most wonderful place I’ve ever been,” Emily recalls. “And all the activities were so exciting.”
“I would say the unique experiences I had here were really what kept me coming back,” Stephanie adds. “But at the end of the day, it was the friendships and the community that I had here.”
It all comes down to camaraderie. Oh, and one other thing. Leave the computers and smart phones at home.
“First off,” Patrick Myers says, “we have to train them to not use their thumbs to talk any more.”
That alone is an accomplishment.