WS History

Historical Overview

Edited from information compiled by David B. Merrick

Walter Scott Camp and Learning Center is an example of dreams becoming reality in the midst of the uncertainty. Early in the regions history extensive camp and conference programs were held throughout the state (and beyond!) at rented facilites. The programs offered at these facilities were quality programs with high attendance. It is a proud heritage.

In the mid-1950s there began to be a strong and effective push for the state convention to develop a Disciple of Christ camping facility. Attendance figures indicated approximately 1500 campers involved each year, not including 3rd, 4th and 5th grade age levels. Plans were made to have at least four facilities located around the state.

In 1961 two properties were purchased: Camp Barton Stone near London Mills and Walter Scott Camp and Learning Center near Effingham. In the mid-1960s a facility near Waukegan was purchased from the Presbyterians and named the Campbell Conference Center. Each of these facilities was used by and for summer camps and conferences. In 1968 the statistics show that the use of Campbell Conference Center was almost as high as that at Walter Scott. No statistics are available for Barton Stone.

The 1960s were a time of initial development at Walter Scott. The shower house was built. The basement of the dining hall was constructed. The lake was built. “Hogans” were set up on both sides of the lake.

In 1969 the Campbell Conference Center was sold. In 1971 the decision was made to sell Camp Barton Stone. Also in 1971, the Education Committee suggested to the State Camp Committee that a site be established in the Chicago area and that Camp Barton Stone be reopened. However, financial conditions of the region did not permit this.

The proceeds from the sale of the two facilities were used for upgrading the facility at Walter Scott. In the mid-1970s the managers home made it possible to hire a full-time, year-round camp manager. Keith Summers was the first to hold this position, followed by Ray Batman, and later Dale Slifer.

In the late 1970s the camp began providing meals for the senior citizen meal program. This allowed the campground to provide consistent employment for its kitchen staff as well as revenue for the maintenance of the facility.

Beginning in 1978, the process of replacing the hogans with wooden shelters began.

Between 1980 and 1991 additional facilities were developed and programs were expanded. In March 1992, the Long Range planning task force established goals for future development and contracted with Lehman & Lehman and Chet T. Gamble, Architect for professional assistance in preparing a Master Plan Update and schematic designs of initial development.

Addendum to above overview

In January 1996, Rev. Burley Herrin became the manager, he left the camp in July 2002 and Becky Lewis was hired as the camp manager.  In September 2001 the camp was underbid for the senior citizen meal program and thus began a new era in the camps history.

In 1999, an addition to the dining hall was completed, new conference room in loft area, new bathrooms on main level and basement were added and plans made to install a platform lift.

In 2002 work began to renovate the maintenance shed into a small retreat house, in May 2007 the new retreat house was dedicated.  The old water treatment building was renovated to house all maintenance equipment and needs.

2007 also celebrated the 45th anniversary of the purchase of the ground for Camp Walter Scott.

In September 2007 the camp was the site of Miracle Day, much work was accomplished, including roofing many buildings with metal roofing and the biggest change–new bathrooms for each cabin.

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