Check out these articles about Lake Swan Camp.
– News Articles –
Bradford County Telegraph StarkJournal.com
LAKE SWAN CAMP WRAPS UP SUCCESSFUL SUMMER
August 6, 2014 Reporter Dan Hildebran
Melrose, Fla. – Lake Swan Camp completed its 2014 summer schedule this week. Executive Director Perry Rollins said the approximately 25 groups that organized week-long camps brought in higher numbers of campers than in previous years, but still below the camp’s maximum capacity. Church groups came as far away as Miami and Macon to the facility off S.R. 26, east of Melrose. The camp also hosts some school groups and family reunions.
Lake Swan Camp operates year-round, but hosts week-long events from the first week in June until the first week in August. Throughout the remainder of the year, the camp primarily hosts weekend gatherings. It employs eight year-round staff members and adds an additional 20 during the summer, both full and part time.
This year, the camp also hosted Summer in the City every Wednesday over the last eight weeks. The community-wide initiative was organized by Keystone Heights High School administrators to provide wholesome activities throughout the summer for Lake Region students. Organizers also held events at Keystone Beach and Trinity Baptist Church.
Rollins said Summer in the City attendance at the camp ranged between 25 and 45 students. “The feedback we got from the kids and parents was very positive,” he said of the inaugural summer program. While at the camp, Summer in the City participants enjoyed tubing, canoeing, swimming, basketball, volleyball, archery and other activities. Rollins said some of the students also took on the camp’s challenge course, a layout designed to develop communications and leadership skills.
Rollins also said the camp benefited from ample rainfall throughout the spring and summer, noting that he had to raise the facility’s dock twice this year to keep it from becoming submerged. Rising water levels also forced workers to remove the bottom section of the camp’s 140-foot water slide. Rollins said a second section of the slide is now halfway submerged and may have to be removed in the future, if the lake continues to rise.
During the coming off-season, Rollins plans to renovate the camp’s multi-purpose building, including replacing the tile in the dining hall and adding a patio. Rollins said he hopes to begin work on the structure in January. The camp recently completed construction of its $265,000 Lake View Lodge Conference Center.
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Gainesville Sun gainesville.com
RENOVATIONS STIR DECADES OF MEMORIES AT LAKE SWAN CAMP
November 7, 2013 Reporter Morgan Watkins
Melrose – For Perry Rollins, Lake Swan Camp near Melrose stirs memories that span the course of his life. He first visited the camp when he was 12 years old, and as a teen it was at Lake Swan that he met his wife, Toni — to whom he’s been married for 43 years. He remembers helping out at the camp as a college student before eventually being hired. “That was like a dream come true to come here and serve,” he said. Rollins, now 63, and his wife moved away for a while but began working at the camp again in 2011. It is a special place not just for them but also for their eldest son and his wife, who met there just as they did decades ago.
The Christian-based camp, which is located on State Road 26 east of Melrose, was established in 1927 by John Minder, a mentor to iconic evangelist Billy Graham. Graham used to work at Lake Swan Camp when he was a student at the Florida Bible Institute in Temple Terrace, said Rollins, who is now the camp director. Graham used to do odd jobs that ranged from dishwashing to lifeguarding.
Rollins is overseeing renovations at Lake Swan Camp that are the first of several upgrades planned for the camp. He and his wife are helping develop a 100-year plan for the camp that doesn’t aim to make the camp bigger as much as it aims to enhance what’s already there, he said. Renovations to a building at the camp that is a former Army hospital transported years ago from Camp Blanding are nearly done, as is a new 140-foot waterslide that empties into Lake Rosa. The camp is situated between Lake Rosa and Lake Swan.
The building has been used as dormitory space for a while and was last remodeled in the 1960s. Seventy-five percent of the work on the most recent renovation was done by volunteers under the guidance of licensed supervisors, and the camp raised $190,000 to help fund the project. Through the camp’s Adopt-a-Room Program, people who donated $5,000 could name a room after a loved one. Rollins wants to use the Adopt-a-Room fundraiser for future projects as well. The camp broke ground on the building renovation in February 2012 and he hopes it will be complete by the start of the new year.
Thanks to its newest remodeling, the ex-Army hospital includes a mix of motel-style rooms and dorm rooms as well as a conference room with kitchen space that visitors can use. A newly added porch offers what he calls the camp’s “million-dollar view.” The waterline of Lake Rosa isn’t far off, so people can sit out there and enjoy the view of the lake. The porch has inspired plans for remodeling the camp’s other facilities to take advantage of the beautiful lakeside view.
Lake Swan Camp is a place where people of all ages can get away from the busyness of everyday life and connect with each other and with God in a more serene setting, Rollins said. Rollins said he has had group after group tell him that coming to the camp was like entering a different world. “I have seen literally hundreds and thousands of kids who have come here and met God in a special way,” he said.
While commonly used by Christian groups, the camp welcomes other organizations as well. Summer is its busiest season, and overnight stays are its bread-and-butter. Visitors can take part in activities ranging from archery and basketball to tubing and water-skiing. “Obviously, the lake is our main forte,” Rollins said. “That is the heart and soul of the camp in terms of our recreation.”
Jeff West, pastor of missions and evangelism at The Family Church in Gainesville, said the church has hosted its winter men’s retreat at the camp for the past couple of years and plans to do so again next January. West had a great time playing on the camp’s human foosball court at a past retreat, and bonfires became another fun way to socialize. It’s too cold to do water sports on the lake in January, but some men brought their fishing gear to make the most of the camp’s lakeside location.
The staff and facilities are top-notch, West said, and its location is ideal. “We want something that’s far enough away where we can really have a retreat, but we didn’t want it so far away that it would be prohibitive for people to travel and get there with their busy work schedules,” he said.
CRU, a Christian student organization at the University of Florida, hosts its Fall Getaway retreat at the camp every year. Adam Ridenour, a 21-year-old accounting major who is the president of CRU, has gone to the event every year since coming to UF.
Coming to Lake Swan Camp is a good chance for new students to get away from day-to-day dorm life and make friends they’ll keep throughout college. “It’s just a great time in a smaller setting to get away from just the business of college life and to just experience God in a new way out there,” he said.
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Florida Times Union jacksonville.com
RENOVATIONS STIR DECADES OF MEMORIES AT LAKE SWAN CAMP
July 25, 2011 Reporter Randy Lefko
Melrose Fla. –Helicopters buzzed the quiet, pristine air around two of Florida’s most revered lakes; Lake Swan and Lake Rosa in Melrose, as a handful of attendees at Lake Swan Camp “ooohed” and “aaahed” at their arrival on the camp’s baseball fields last Thursday.
“Today is going to be a special day at camp because we have two helicopters; one from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the other from Shands Healthcair in Gainesville, visiting us during our Aviation Camp,” said Lake Swan Camp director Perry Rollins. “Aviation Day is one of our special weeks at camp, but to have these organizations volunteer their time to visit us is exciting.”
Coordinated with Tim Huggins, a former military pilot and also a Lake Swan Camp board member, Aviation Camp and the helicopter visit is a part of the camps attempt to inspire youngsters to use aviation as a missionary tool.
“Many times in the impoverished countries that we go to help out in crisis, it is the pilot of an aircraft that is the key element in getting people, supplies and even just hope to those in need,” said Huggins, who grew up in Melrose and has seen the camp grow over the years. “Those in need see the arriving aircraft in the air and know that help is coming. That is quite a calling.”
Shands Healthcair pilot Steve Pierce, whom Huggins flew with years ago, and EMTs Heath Schmidt and Carolyn Gause gave campers a tutorial on flying and their health care mission while Gainesville Police Department Officer Mike Barnes and pilot Joe Van Gorder, with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, gave campers a look at the crime-fighting technology aboard their helicopter. Campers also got a visit from retired U.S. Navy pilot and Marine officer Jim Gill, now a volunteer deputy at the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, who flew A-1 Skyraider combat missions and spoke with campers about flying for missions.
“We all see these guys and gals up in the air every now and then and it’s neat that we were able to let the campers see them up close and talk to them,” said Rollins.
Lake Swan Camp has been operating since 1927 after Dr. John Minder, who founded the Florida Bible College, now Trinity College, in 1932 met a young student named Billy Graham who was wholly influenced by Minder’s teachings. A summer conference at Lake Swan Camp got Graham an invitation to speak and history speaks for the rest of Graham’s career.
“We have had a strong message of ministry here for a long time,” said Rollins, who met his wife Toni at camp 41 years ago, married, honeymooned and a week later returned. “In these tough times of faith, Lake Swan Camp has been a stable, vibrant part of this community with far reaching fingers.”
Two campers at Thursday Aviation Camp, Daniel Van Zant, 12, of Keystone Heights, and Elic Kirby, 20, of Sebring, have taken the next steps in Rollins’ and Huggins’ plans to reach outside the borders.
Kirby, a recent student at Liberty University, has already logged 200 hours of flight time in anticipation of stepping up in times of need.
“The end goal is to be a part of Missionary Flights International,” said Kirby. “I see where pilots are a key part of the service any mission.”
For Van Zant, a family name rich in flying and Bible studies with brother Charlie Van Zant, Jr., a US Army helicopter pilot, and dad, Charles, a doctoral graduate of the Western Baptist Theological Seminary and a private pilot, the helicopters visiting Lake Swan Camp was exciting.
“Helicopters are just cool,” said Van Zant. “This is my first year at this camp and we are learning a lot about flying. They take us to Keystone Heights Airport each day to fly small planes. That’s neat.”
Huggins explained that the Aviation Campers get classroom instruction each day then take a trip to nearby Keystone Height Airport where they get some hands-on instruction flying.
“We give them a two-fold approach of classroom work on aviation principles and flying techniques and safety plus we teach mission focus as it pertains to not only the aircraft, but life in general,” said Huggins. “We want to teach them why they want to be a mission pilot and to serve others.”
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Lake Swan Camp
647 State Road 26
Melrose, FL 32666
Monday - Friday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Weekends: open if group on campus
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