Conference Point Camp Celebrates 150 Years

Photo courtesy of the Williams Bay Historical Society

On Aug. 26, Williams Bay’s Conference Point Camp will hold an open house to celebrate its 150th anniversary. The 21-acre camp was originally founded by the Rev. Joseph Collie, a Congregational minister from Delavan. In 1873, Collie established a collection of tents on property he acquired on the western point of Williams Bay, to serve as a “summer resort of clergymen and others seeking health in a forgetfulness of the weariness of everyday life.” He named it Camp Collie. A few years later, the camp served as the site of a series of religious retreats, the success of which led Collie to make the camp available to religious groups throughout Wisconsin and Illinois, who reserved the camp for one-week sessions.

By 1914, the practice of renting the camp to outside religious groups had continued and the camp’s named changed to Conference Point Camp. Some of the groups that came to Conference Point over the years included churches, religious training schools and missionary organizations. In 1965, the camp hosted a conference of approximately 200 civil rights leaders from Chicago and Alabama; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to organize the conference and served as a headlining speaker.

In 2010, Lake Geneva Ministries assumed management of Conference Point Camp. (The faith-based organization also operates the Lake Geneva Youth Camp on historic camp property in Lake Geneva.) Since that time, the group has made significant updates to the camp, including the construction of new buildings, the renovation of existing buildings and the demolition of at least one historic home that was absorbed by the camp in the 20th century. Updates have also included restoration of the camp’s 300-foot-long section of the ShorePath.

To commemorate the camp’s anniversary milestone, the open house celebration will include a walking tour of the property, history walls, recreational experiences, a commemoration ceremony and fireworks. Open house attendees must register for the event at; no walk-ins will be allowed.

Author: atthelake

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