As early as 1960, Indiana Southern Baptists operated camps by renting the property for their events only at the mercy of other organizations’ calendars.They had no space to call their own. But, they had a mission and a cook; Mrs. E. Harmon Moore. With their camp mission and her recipe file, the Indiana Southern Baptists were able to provide a camp with a week’s worth of meals and adventures.
In 1966 the state convention began purchasing land in Morgan County, eventually acquiring 396 acres of virgin timberland with an old pole barn to be utilized as a meeting place. By 1967 The Indiana Southern Baptists, now called State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, offered four weeks of Royal Ambassador camps, utilizing “war asset” tents and electric ranges. With 135 boys in attendance, 15 of them made professions of faith.
In 1970, after a few years of camp, the Camp Development Committee provided a report that detailed the philosophy, objectives, methodology, and program for the camping, retreat and assembly work. This report contained three years of study that envisioned facilities for 300-500 people, winterized facilities for 150 to 200, places for dining, sleeping quarters, meeting rooms, kitchen and fellowship area, cabins, and primitive campsites. In 1985 SCBI (State Convention of Baptists in Indiana) enlisted volunteer construction teams to build needed facilities at the camp, who procured materials from the sale of timber from the camp.
New buildings allow 250 guests to stay for overnight events. Many of the capital improvements were funded through a special offering for Highland Lakes begun in 1993. An Olympic-sized pool was opened in 1991 and an Adopt-a-Cabin program involved many churches in renovating facilities in 1992. Volunteers completed motel rooms in 1997 at a cost of $83, 863, far lower than the projected $205,000. Later a second story wall added in 1998 enclosed the offices with the new camp manager, Bobby Copeland, praising the assistance of Campers on Missions whose efforts provided significant savings to SCBI. Calling them “one of the premier missions groups in Indiana,” he added, “Their spirit and attitude are a joy to work with.”
State Baptists were asked many questions about their camp over the years. One of the most influential questions asked: “where is the lake?” So in 2001, the construction and completion of Brock Lake became their answer. With recent additions of “Wet Willie” the water slide and the Jungle Jim Water Play Station, Brock Lake has become a camper favorite.
Today the camp is comprised of over 400 acres of woodland hills, creeks, and meadows. Campers on Mission continue to provide much-needed volunteer labor. Summer missionaries from around the country also give a youthful boost during those months when the camp is most active. The programs at Highland Lakes extend into 8 adventurous weeks of camps in the summer as we minister to over 1500 kids, youth, and adults. Each summer the salvation numbers rise as we know that God is moving in His creation here at Highland Lakes. God continues to use this place of rest to draw new believers to Himself and to encourage Christians in their walk with Him.