HOW WE CAME TO BE

The first 90 acres of the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center was originally bought by W.K. Kellogg and gifted to the Battle Creek area Boy Scouts on his 65th birthday in 1925. The scouts subsequently purchased an additional fifty acres and used the land as a camp for the next sixty years under the name of Camp T. Ben Johnston with close to 35,000 young men and boys enjoying their camping experience. In the mid 1980’s, however, the Boy Scouts, for economic and management reasons, decided to consolidate their regional camping operations on one site called Rota-Kiwan in Portage, Michigan and Camp T. Ben Johnston was abandoned.

The land at Sherman Lake reverted back to the Kellogg Foundation. Desirous of honoring W.K. Kellogg's original intent, the Foundation asked the Battle Creek Family YMCA to consider whether the camp could be utilized as a youth camp/retreat center for the community of Battle Creek. Realizing the limits of their service area, the Battle Creek Family YMCA sought out a collaboration with the Kalamazoo County Family YMCA. Together, they formed an unprecedented collaborative partnership forming an independent YMCA, the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center, as a resource to provide camping and retreat services to the children, teens, families, seniors and special needs populations of Southwest Michigan.   

In 1994, on 90 acres on a rural lake in Southwest Michigan between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center was born. Constituted as an independent YMCA, the Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center was the first new YMCA Camp and Conference Center built from the ground up in over 50 years! Today the Sherman Lake YMCA sits on 365 acres replete with a state of the arts facilities.

Facilities include a Center for Integrated (Character) Education, a large conference dining hall, three villages, a farm and horse riding facilities, a mile of shoreline on Sherman Lake, and a one of a kind indoor recreation center serving the surrounding local communities as a YMCA wellness membership facility.

Sherman Lake YMCA serves over 17,000 people each year through programs (Day, Resident, and Teen Leadership Summer Camps, Integrated Education, YMCA Health Well Being Memberships, and Conferences, Trainings, & Retreats) that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all. 

The Integrated (Character Education) program is an award winning school camp program that incorporates a deep partnership with schools including the professional development of teachers in teaching life skills.

The Sherman Lake YMCA is a totally accessible facility and organization that believes in “Success for Every Child”.

The Sherman Lake YMCA has three areas of focus, Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility. The primary program goal is building strong, resilient youth and families using the core values of Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility.

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