The Early Years

Camp Li-Lo-Li-began in the early 1950’s with the vision of Melville E. Northrop who imagined a Christian camp program for young people. After 50 years, we look back, and praise and thank our Lord Jesus Christ for the countless ways He has blessed us, and for the many individuals who have given their lives to Him.

August 1952
Allegany State Park Camp 11 was visited and reserved (due to a cancellation) for the summer of 1953 for 2 weeks.

October 1952
A meeting was held in Blasdell, NY with representatives from 7 chapels agreeing to support this new camp ministry.

November 1952
A picnic was held at Allegany State Park Camp 11. Mel Northrop & Colin Caldwell begin weekly planning meetings.

January 1953
Camp name contest was started and the price for a week at camp was set for $13 per week!

March 1953
The name “Camp Li-Lo-Li” was chosen, representing the words LIFE, LOVE & LIGHT of Jesus Christ. 1000 brochures were printed.

July 25-Aug 8, 1953
The first camp session was held at Allegany State Park, but soon after, the endeavor to look for our own land began.

Summer of 1954
Camp was held at Allegany State Park again. Colin Caldwell directed.

Spring of 1955
The land in Sunfish Valley was found, visited and chosen by a unanimous vote of the Camp Corporation. It was purchased for $6800!

Summer 1955
Camp was held again at Allegany, but with visits to the new land, and a dedication service.

Fall 1955
Despite Title search problems and a rattlesnake scare, building plans were made, and the lakes were made by the NYS Conservation Department.

Spring 1956
Workdays begin with 14” of snow! The current maintenance cabin was the first building.

Spring 1956
Building projects continue. The lodge (minus a chimney & porch), a few cabins, and a small infirmary were completed.

Summer 1956
The first camp session in the new land is held with over 100 campers. Kids stayed in tents, the barn, and the schoolhouse. The lodge was a multi-purpose building – used for eating, chapel services, store, and even sleeping for the cooks!

Spring 1957
Porch and chimney were added to the lodge. Four more cabins were built.

Summer 1957
Two 2-week sessions were held. One for pre-teens and one for teens.

2 more cabins were added as well as washrooms for the girls.

An office/store was built, as well as one more cabin. Camp sessions increased to two pre-teen sessions, one teen, and one youth camp.

The current Bunny Camp building was built as a home for the new full-time caretakers.

New caretakers house was built by transporting pieces from Olean, NY. New brick facing was added.

The new chapel was built.

Telephone service comes to the valley for the first time!!!

The new infirmary was built as well as the second residence home for caretakers.

The Bunny Camp building was enlarged to almost twice its size.

Spring 1983
Current Camp Store was built. The old store becomes a girl’s cabin.

$60,000 water system was required by the health department. It was completed on time for about 1/3 the cost.

Mail comes directly to Camp, instead of a post office box in Salamanca!

The Schoolhouse was updated and improved for use.

A new girl’s washhouse was built in the girl’s cabin area.

May 1993
40th Anniversary Celebration Weekend was held.

The Ropes Confidence Challenge Course was added to Camp to promote teamwork and courage.

New pool was built!! What a relief for the lifeguards! Money from the closing of the Berkshire Chapel in Buffalo was used for the project.

Bridge & Gazebo, designed & built by Bob Westfall, were added to the waterfront.

Fall 2001
The new staff building was completed for use.

Spring 2002
“Fort Seneca” was built using donated funds from the closing of the Salamanca Christian School.


Do you recognize anyone in these photos?

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