Camp History

Camp Illiana has been a source of inspiration to the thousands that have experienced its tranquility and beauty since 1949. The Camp is located four miles south of Washington just off of Troy Road on East County Road 450 South. The first camp was held in the summer of 1950.

A group of local men in the late 1940’s saw a need for a Christian camp and began making plans. Some notable names were A. Burton Clarke, Desco Newton, Floyd Bennington and Rufus Gerkin. The group borrowed $5000.00 to start the project.

Since its opening in 1950 there have been eight camp managers. A. Burton Clarke, 1950 to 1953. Rufus Gerkin, 1954. Ben Ray Bean, 1955 to 1962. Ronald Cordrey, 1963 to 1969. Earl Beaty, 1970 to 1973. Alex Troutman, 1974 to 1988. Ed Furnas, 1989 to 1992. Doug Bowman, 1992 to 2006.  David Bean served as Camp Manager from the Spring of 2007 until his accidental death at the camp during the summer of 2014. Subsequently, Ben Miller currently holds the position of Executive Director of Camp Illiana.

Since 1949, many improvements have been made at Camp Illiana. The original camp consisted of six cabins, a dining hall, office, several shelters, concession stand and a manager residence.

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The 70’s brought a new chapel building, swimming pool, and a maintenance building. In 1983, a second manager’s house was built. 1994 was the beginning of renovation and replacement of many of the camp’s buildings.

Lake View Lodge was constructed where Hudson and Wabash cabins once stood. Completed in 1995, it sleeps 116 people in ten rooms; it also has a worship area for 250, two large modern restrooms, a kitchen, a large basement classroom and several storage rooms. That fall, Sullivan, Washington and Jackson County cabins were taken down to make way for Valley View lodge. Completed in 1996, this building houses 132 beds in 11 rooms, has a full size gymnasium, modern restrooms, stage and two classrooms. Both buildings also serve as storm shelters.

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During this time, the Dining Hall, Maplewood cabin, Dogwood cabin and old manager’s house also received extensive renovation, making Camp Illiana completely winterized and ready for year round use. 1996 saw the paving of all the camp roads and parking areas. 1998, the camp office was remodeled and added on to, and now houses five offices and a storage area.

Many additions were added in the area of recreation as well. A 25 foot climbing wall, giant swing, 700 foot zip-line, water slide and repelling tower were built from 1996 to 1999. In 2000, a second swimming pool was constructed beside the first pool, giving us swimming capacity for over 150 campers. 2003 brought a five-station high ropes course, purchased with a grant from the Daviess Community Foundation. In 2004, the open-air chapel located behind the office was converted to Joshua Lodge, which has 9 bedrooms, 2 large meeting rooms, 2 kitchens and 4 bathrooms. In June of 2008, a poolside spiral waterslide was added. And in 2010, the concession stand was enlarged to house a store called the Shirt Shack. 2010 also saw the building of Baker Bridge, a 145-foot bridge spanning the valley between Lakeview and Valley View Lodges.  This bridge was built by Fred Baker, who volunteered and worked part-time at the camp for almost 40 years. The 2010 summer staff helped Fred construct the bridge which was subsequently named in honor of Fred.

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In the fall of 2010, the entrance to camp was widened and paved all the way to the dining hall, allowing a much-needed improvement to our traffic flow. 2011 improvements included the addition of a 2nd zip line running parallel to the first and the construction of a playground beside the pools. The Dining Hall was air-conditioned in 2012 and remodeled inside with new flooring and walls in 2013. Additional improvements to the camp include a bouldering wall and ga-ga pit, paintball course and disc golf course, enhanced Basecamp/Treehouse area and several maintenance updates to our buildings.

Camp Illiana was run by a manager and his wife (along with volunteer help) until the spring of 1995, when the position of Property Manager was added. Bill Miller has served as the current Property Manager since Spring 2015. Ellen Raymond joined the staff in 2002 as Program Director, handling publicity and website management as well.

Camp Illiana has had myriads of volunteers and workers through the years who have functioned in various areas.  From Grandma Brinson to Dick Smith and beyond, men and women who have loved and served Jesus at Camp Illiana have blessed the camp.  Omission of names of all who served is simply an alternative to leaving out someone who may have taken a vital role in the camp’s ministry.

Want to see more?

Check out over 100 more photos of Camp Illiana's history on our Flickr page

zrodimelCamp History