Lakeside Institute Celebrates Centennial

Posted on July 15, 2015

The Lakeside Institute has called Lakeside Chautauqua its home for all of its 100-year history, but its impact can be felt around the world.

The Ohio branch of the Epworth League, a Methodist association for youth and young adults, started the week-long summer camp in August 1915. Approximately 125 youth attended in the first year, and between 125-150 will come to Lakeside from July 19-25 for the Institute’s 100th summer session.

Since then, Lakeside Institute has helped more than 35,000 youth grow relationships with God and each other, counselor Rich Boettner said.

Many of them have followed calls to ministry they felt at camp. Lakeside Institute alumni have traveled as missionaries to countries, such as Slovenia, Ethiopia, Mexico, Russia and the Dominican Republic. Others have gotten involved in youth ministry in their home churches and at colleges around the U.S.

“I have seen so many kids go on to do just awesome things with their faith and helping and serving others,” said Boettner, who is organizing the Institute’s 100th Anniversary Celebration on July 25-26.

Approximately 30 dedicated staff “donate their week” to facilitate the program centered on small-group fellowship, Boettner said. The small group model allows youth to form meaningful relationships that last much longer than a week.

While the staff makes changes to help the program best meet campers’ needs, that model has remained central to the Lakeside Institute throughout its first century.

“The thing that hasn’t changed in all these years is the importance of relationship, both between the youth and Christ, but also between the staff members and the youth, and among the campers,” Boettner said.

The Institute has also maintained several activities since its beginning. The 1948 book The Light and Life of Lakeside-on-Lake Erie notes that sports, other recreation and the “Morning Watch” were all present as the Institute grew in the early 20th century.

Today, campers still participate in sports games, as well as dances and talent shows. The “Morning Watch” will be part of the Institute’s 100th Anniversary Celebration.

Lakeside Chautauqua itself is another key part of the Institute’s success. For many, Boettner said, Lakeside is a “thin place” where youth and adults feel closely connected to God. This setting helps facilitate spiritual growth.

“There are so many places where they experience faith in a very personal way,” Boettner said.

As part of the centennial celebration, the Lakeside Institute is giving back to its home. Last month, the Institute started a $4,500 renovation to the kitchen at Hilltop House, which serves as its men’s dormitory. The Institute will mark completion of the project, which includes new cabinetry, appliances, flooring and paint, with a ribbon-cutting at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25.

For more information about Lakeside Institute, visit