Leaders at Lakeview Ministries want to see young people’s Christian faith climb higher.
Toward that end, the Lutheran-operated camp in Waymansville in southwestern Bartholomew County recently installed a donated, 45-foot, steel-and-wood climbing tower on its property.
“It’s such an iconic item,” said David Vandercar, Lakeview’s executive director.
It’s also an expensive one. It was priced at $150,000 when it was built for an Indianapolis school system in the early 1990s, according to Vandercar.
But the school system wanted to part with it after insurance concerns about it arose. A school trustee with a link to Lakeview mentioned a few months ago that the ministry would be interested in it.
So the school system sold it to Lakeview for $1 to make the transaction official. Lakeview raised $30,000 at a November auction to cover costs of trucking it in one piece from Indianapolis to the camp and installing it there.
That process will be complete in March, when it will be used for the first time by campers.
Vandercar recently climbed the tower’s interior steps to its top to get a look over the property near the camp’s lake.
“It’s an amazing view,” he said.
The original property was born as Camp Lakeview in 1964 as a Christian, year-round inspiration-and-recreation destination for people of all ages.
Last summer alone, 2,275 campers enjoyed activities blending faith and fun. Besides Columbus, campers come from the surrounding areas of Indianapolis; Evansville; Seymour; Louisville, Ky.; and Cincinnati.
Its biggest project in recent years doubled the ministry’s size to accommodate a growing list of campers.
Until that $2.5 million, 72-acre expansion was finished, many campers were being turned away each year, according to Lakeview leaders.
“The tower is definitely a fun thing,” Vandercar said. “But, from a spiritual perspective, it also will challenge campers to overcome their fears and learn to build teamwork and unity within their respective cabins.”
The tower will be used mostly for high-school-age campers. Tower guidelines will require campers to wear harnesses and helmets while climbing.
Lakeview Ministries Board Chairman Lance Onken said he’s excited about the addition, and believes it will wow young people.
He mentioned that he’s grateful to the Indianapolis trustee who thought of Lakeview for the tower’s new life.
“We have so many friends of the ministry that we’re grateful for,” Onken said.