Hillsdale County has a rich history of providing a camping experience for the children of the community that dates back to the early 1900s. Thanks to the efforts of many businessmen in the community, the vision of Kimball Camp YMCA was born.
On March 18, 1938, Mr. and Mrs. O.C. Kimball purchased the land and began to build the first Kimball Camp YMCA structures. They were modest beginnings with just a few permanent structures but Kimball’s vision was much grander. Over the years, with the help of many businessmen and volunteers, the camp was transformed into a beautiful, fully functioning, thriving summer camp. In addition to the trees, wells, sleeping cabins, and a beautiful new log lodge complete with dining facilities and a fieldstone fireplace, Kimball Camp YMCA was donated by Mr. Kimball to the Hillsdale County YMCA.
The camp has gone through many stages throughout the last 77 years but the most devastating was April of 1965 when a series of tornados wiped out the entire camp. The community rallied together and refused to let the Kimball Camp YMCA experience end. They decided it was too important to the community and to the children. Kimball Camp YMCA was rebuilt, bigger and better than ever due to the overwhelming support of the community.
Even though there have been many directors over the years, the mission of Kimball Camp YMCA has remained the same.
Our current executive director is Harold Campbell. He came to Kimball Camp YMCA from The Salvation Army camping system in 1998 bringing many years of experience in the camping field. His goal was to update the existing activities and enhance the programming side of the camp to increase the revenue and make camp more inviting to other venues.
With strong support from local business professionals, especially Herb James, who also served as a board member, a new high adventure course, a 40-ft climbing tower, additional low ropes elements, and a team building kit were added to give the camp more activities to offer.
Additional land was purchased to connect the camp to Kimball Pointe and allow for even more expansion.
Programming was also enhanced to offer more Outdoor Education classes in the spring and fall. A number of schools have entered into long-term contracts with Kimball Camp YMCA for their outdoor education classes over the years. Band camps were also added to the number of groups utilizing Kimball Camp YMCA.
Additional improvements under the direction of Harold Campbell include:
· The addition of 12 rustic shelters
· Addition of office space, storage rooms, and meeting facilities to the main lodge
· An archery range funded by the Hillsdale County Community Foundation
· Upgrades to the waterfront including removable docks, water trampolines, and a giant iceberg
· Upgrades to the high-adventure courses
· Flooring in the main lodge converted from cement to tile
· A new road constructed by community volunteers
· A new deck on the front of the lodge funded by the Hillsdale Exchange Club
· The addition of a pole barn funded by Herb James
· The addition of two professional sand volleyball courts funded by the Hillsdale County Community Foundation
· New roof on the picnic pavilion completed by Braman Roofing
· New tables for the dining hall funded by Barb James
After 9/11, the economy took a hit and moving forward on our gymnasium plan had to be postponed. The gymnasium is still our greatest need. It would allow us to run more year-round programming and have multiple groups on camp at once. We would also be able to run community programming and provide meeting space for our local organizations.
To help Kimball Camp out visit our Ways to Give page to see how you can help further strengthen Kimball Camp
Kimball Camp YMCA Nature Center endeavors to put Christian faith and principles into practice through programs that build a healthy body, mind, and spirit for all, in an environment that fosters a wholesome relationship between man and God's creation.