Oswego camp appoints previous board member and camper, Jim Lloyd, as its new president
By Pat Shea
Jim Lloyd, 62, is true testament that you really can go home again. Recently appointed as the new president of Ontario Bible Camp (OBC), Jim Lloyd not only has strong ties to the camp, he has a new vision for the place that holds so many fond memories for him and his family.
“My wife and I met here as campers over 50 years ago,” explains Lloyd, in a recent phone interview. “We even got married here. Our children went to OBC as campers when they were young, and then became counselors when they got older. OBC is something our whole family’s been involved with all our lives. It holds a special place in our hearts, and we’re excited to be part of it again.”
By “we,” Lloyd is referring to his wife of 40 years, Karen, who will be handling registration, and his daughter Jackie, who is coordinating public relations for the camp. His son Jake, who lives in New York City, offers his emotional support to his family’s newest endeavor, but won’t be involved in the operation of the camp.
Prior to returning to OBC this year as president, Lloyd, a former Marine, and his wife, spent the past forty years involved in many projects.
“We ran a [Christian] school for troubled girls for 15 years, became involved in several different church ministries, served on the board at OBC, and then we owned and operated the Mo’ Dough Bakery and The Buzz Café in Solvay for many years,” stated Lloyd.
After selling the bakery last year, the Lloyds found they had extra time on their hands. They decided to reach out to the OBC board and offer their assistance. The board responded enthusiastically, and by the second board meeting, the board asked Jim if he would be interested in stepping in as president.
“I was a bit reluctant at first,” admitted Lloyd.” I knew I needed to get reacquainted with the camp again. Initially, I was thinking it would be more of a transitional role, but then we became more and more involved and took on more responsibility, and now… well, so many exciting things have been happening. With the help of the board, we’re prepping for the opening of the 2019 Summer Camp season and I’m just so glad my family is part of OBC family again!”
A long-time tradition for many
The not-for-profit camp was originally founded in 1921 and sits on 53 prime acres on the shores of Lake Ontario. Although its summer camps promote biblical teaching, enrollment is open to families of all religious backgrounds.
“We reach out to all,” stated Lloyd.
OBC in past years has primarily been used as a children’s camp ministry, but Lloyd remembers when the camp was also fully utilized as a retreat facility as well.
“The camp is open from May to October, with the summer months dedicated to summer camp, but in the past, there were retreats of 400 and 500 people utilizing the facility,” explained Lloyd. “I want to get it back to that place again. I see a lot of potential for rekindling the interest [in OBC] and making it a popular retreat facility again.”
To do that, the Lloyds are simply instituting a standard technique they have always used to grow their past businesses; talking to people.
“We’ve been reaching out to several churches and drumming up interest,” explained Lloyd. “There’s also been a lot of interest at our own church in Liverpool to take the youth group on retreat to OBC. [Many of us who have been on youth retreats] understand the importance of having that experience, and we want to offer it to the young people at our churches,” stated Lloyd. “We want these kids to have the experience of getting closer to God and making friendships that could last their whole lives.”
If the Lloyds were ever concerned over enrollment figures for the 2019 season, seeing the excitement generated by the community has more than likely calmed their fears.
“There has been a lot of families signing up their children for the summer sessions and we’ve already rehabbed two buildings to create a new dorm to accommodate all the new campers. We are also upgrading the older buildings to ensure we have enough bunk beds and single beds for campers throughout the season,” stated Lloyd.
In addition to the building improvements and projects, the Lloyds have also seen renewed and increased interest from those who want to work for the camp. OBC requires approximately 20 staff members and several volunteers to help keep the facility up and running during the summer season.
“The staff has come together in ways we never expected, and we are so glad about that,” stated Lloyd.
In addition to new and returning staff, there is also support for the camp from long-time cottage residents who lease property from OBC. There are approximately 20 cottages on OBC’s property, some of which are winterized, and others that are rented out during the summer months.
“There’s a really interesting community of cottage residents who are extremely supportive of OBC. They help us keep the grounds open and the cabins clean throughout the year and are an important part of our ministry,” explained Lloyd.
The right setting to hear from God
Ontario Bible Camp offers a host of events and activities for attendees to enjoy including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, archery, crafts, hiking and so much more.
“We have an incredible lagoon, wide open spaces, and a beautiful facility with a lot of room for expansion,” explained Lloyd.
In addition to the many activities the camp offers, Lloyd is quick to point out that the most important aspect the camp offers today’s youth is the opportunity to get away and listen to God’s voice.
“Our theme this year is ‘Ready, Set, Go,’ and it’s based on Hebrews:12 from the bible,” explained Lloyd. “We want to prepare [campers] to get ready and set to do something different in their lives, and then go forward and become successful. I see Christian camping as a real arm of the church,” added Lloyd. “Camps like OBC can help churches and parents raise children from Sunday school to youth group. I want OBC campers to have the opportunity to watch the sunset over Lake Ontario and understand how God is at work in their own lives. When [campers] come here, they leave behind their cellphones and electronics and live the life that their parents and teachers have talked about. We give them an opportunity to talk, not only with their counselors, but with the Lord…and discuss how to apply their own experiences in order to help them make decisions for their future,” stated Lloyd.
An affordable choice
The OBC 2019 Summer Camp season is an affordable choice for many families looking to give their children a Christian camp experience without breaking the budget. Each week of sleep-away camp is only $260, which includes meals, and there’s an Early Bird pricing of $240 if tuition is paid by May 1, 2019.
Each week of camp caters to a specific age group: Junior Summer Camp Week for ages 8-10 runs from July 14 through July 19; Teen Summer Camp Week for ages 14-17 runs from July 21 through July 26; and Intermediate Summer Camp Week for ages 11-13 runs from July 28 through August 2nd. The rest of the summer families and groups can reserve space.
“We’ve already been signing up kids [individually] and we have had a great deal of interest from local churches that want to maximize the camp experience and bring their youth here as one large group,” explained Lloyd. “It’s our long-term goal to have the facilities utilized all year long. We have many exciting projects planned but for now, the Lord knows what’s in our checkbook,” laughed Lloyd.
In addition to a successful summer, Lloyd is also preparing the camp for a very special anniversary.
“In August 2021, the camp will be 100 years old. We are trying to remember all the people we knew who came here and all the many pastors and missionaries who have stayed here,” stated Lloyd. “We are putting together a list now and we’re reaching out to churches to get in touch with the campers from years past. OBC is like a family. A lot of campers started here as eight- or nine-year-old campers, and then become counselors. Many former campers bring their own families once they get married. We’re not a big commercial outfit, but we have that hometown feel. In fact, I recently heard from a camper who is now 90 years old and just got one of our brochures. He is thrilled to see what the Lord has done so far, and we are too. We can’t wait to celebrate our 100th anniversary. I hope OBC will be here for another 100 years.”
Ontario Bible Camp is located at 385 Lakeview Road, Oswego, New York. For more information on Ontario Bible Camp, visit them on at www.ontariobiblecamp.com, or visit them on Facebook, Twitter or by calling 315-343-6111.