Over a century of Camp experience
1899 saw the first season of summer camping for the Evanston YMCA. In that summer, A group of Evanston boys attended Camp Hope on the shores of Phantom Lake, Wisconsin along with boys from the Milwaukee YMCA. Camp Hope, now known as Camp Phantom Lake, was established by the Milwaukee YMCA in 1896 and is the third oldest YMCA camp.
In 1900, a separate session of Camp Hope was set aside for boys from Evanston. The Evanston YMCA began their own camp in 1902 at Black Lake, Michigan. After three summers on Black Lake, the camp moved to White Lake, Michigan in 1905, and then to Bear Lake, Michigan in 1906. An excerpt from the 1902 Evanston Index suggests that Camp Echo began on June 12, 1902 at Black Lake when the Evanston boys “planted their flag and named the place Camp Echo.”
The opening of our Ryerson Long Lake site
In the early 1920s, YMCA Board Member and Boys’ Work Committee chairman F. P. Davis, Sr., Boys Work Secretary Freeman, General Secretary James Bixby, and Mr. Chester Cook, Board and Committee member, began looking for a permanent home for Camp Echo. After rejecting sites at Town Line Lake and another nearby lake, they arrived at the south end of Ryerson Long Lake and were “electrified by what they saw — a beautiful lake with a peninsula in the middle cleared except for trees around the edge and a real forest of trees in the distance.” They negotiated the purchase of the property and Camp Echo moved to the site in 1924.
Using 1899 as the first year that Evanston YMCA boys went camping, 2019 will mark the 120th season of camping. The 100th Camp Echo season at its present site (and permanent home) on Long Ryerson Lake in Fremont, Michigan will be in 2023.