A story of kindness
A generous bequest from a kind-hearted widow who loved children resulted in the purchase in 1964 of a 156-acre tract near Almont, Michigan, that today is Skyline Camp and Retreat center. The property was originally purchased for camp use by the First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham, Michigan.
The former Powers estate and its buildings provided the basic elements for the start of summer camp in 1967. At first there were tents and other accommodations in the estate's principal residence. Because of the Detroit riots, Skyline added to its 1967 camp season a week of free camp for 78 children from the heart of Detroit's inner city. In 1970 church volunteers built a cluster of rustic cabins in a shady grove of pines and hardwoods. Skyline has operated a summer camp since 1967.
In the 1970s, all of Skyline's camp sessions were full, some having a waiting list. Two one-week sessions for seniors were introduced early in the camp's history. To provide more assembly and indoor recreation space, youth group members raised funds and built under adult supervision a large multipurpose activity building on the site once occupied by the estate's swimming pool. It included a large rec hall and dormitories. By then a new pool had been built. The building, dubbed Focus Hall, sadly, burned to the ground on a cold winter night in 1992. However, the following year Skyline erected a new Focus Hall that includes 14 sleeping rooms and a large meeting hall.
Skyline, then directed by a council of the church, laid plans for a secure future by creating an endowment fund in 1993. At about the same time, Skyline supporters launched a comprehensive business plan to expand the use of Skyline to year-around retreats, seminars and conferences.
Planning began in 1998 to construct a new kitchen and dining facility. Work on this project was deferred during Skyline's transition to separate non-profit status in 2005. However, replacement of the existing facility is very much in the forward vision of the Skyline Board of Directors.
In Skyline's decades-long operation of summer camp, it is estimated that 10,000 or more children and youth have encamped on this beautiful and much-loved facility, enjoying the outdoors and benefiting from Skyline's caring staff.
Are you a camper, a staff member or a Skyline supporter over the past almost 50 years?
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Visit our photo site to see some historical pictures.