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Remote campsite brings Christians back to nature

For decades, a small bluff overlooking Lake Ontario has set the perfect stage for those who gather there to commune with God.

Lighthouse Christian Camp -- nestled off Somerset Drive -- celebrates its 70th birthday this year.

"We've had missionaries over the time make [this] their temporary residence," said Howard "Chip" Duncan, general manager of the campground. He stressed, however, that this is not the main purpose of the facility, owned by the Buffalo/Genesee Camp Meeting Association of the Genesee Conference of the Free Methodist Church.

The camp is a beautiful spot for missionaries and ministers to sit back, relax and have a chance to absorb some sunshine, enjoy some boating opportunities and feel the cool lake air before heading back to preach about God once again.

But it's also a way for people of all faiths to get back to nature -- in a mostly tranquil way.

"We advertise ourself as a safe place in a Christian environment," Duncan said.

There are three weekends during the summer when families and others can camp and spend some quality time together.

There also are people who rent cabins for a week at a time, Duncan said.

Ministers hold Sunday church services through Labor Day weekend at the camp.

And the campground has been the setting of many weddings along the banks of Lake Ontario.

Duncan said the campground provides a missionary cottage free of charge. Primarily, it is used by Free Methodist ministers and missionaries who come to the cabin for some respite.

Representatives of the Women's Missionary Organization of the Genesee Conference help provide for the expenses of the ministers and missionaries who stay here, Duncan said.

Gerald L. Atkinson, president of the campground's board of trustees, said Ken and Letty Myers, missionaries serving in Mexico, recently stayed at the campground. Last year, a person from Brazil stayed.

The missionaries usually integrate well with the families who stay in the camp, which the church opened in 1937.

Campground trustees allow anyone to camp at Lighthouse after paying the rental fees, Atkinson said. "But we don't allow smoking, drinking or gambling. . . . We're fussy."

Wireless Internet service is available on the grounds, and facilities available for use by groups include Parmerter Tabernacle, Presidential Hall, Linda Williams McGrath Memorial Hall and a dining hall that seats 200.

Other facilities include restrooms with hot showers, a coin operated Laundromat, soccer field, bike track, sand volleyball, basketball, horseshoes, tether ball, softball, a children's playground and camp store.

Camping fees range from $20 to $70 per night in a cabin, or beginning at $13 per night for an RV hookup.

The campground can be found on the Internet by going to or call 795-3216.

Sheryl Hunt, a camper from Churchville who spends her summers at Lighthouse with her family, said she enjoys the friends her family has made over the years.

She also enjoys the fact she receives no television reception whatsoever at the remote spot.

"I like the fact that it's away from everything. I like the fact that we have no television stations," Hunt said. "I like the water. I like the atmosphere. It's so relaxing here. and I love the people."

Mary Lou Bates, who serves on the camp's board of trustees, said she arranges for speakers who appear at camp church services. Bates said she has camped at the grounds throughout her life.

"My parents had a cottage on the lake, and actually my husband and I own that cottage now," she said. ". . . It's like a family reunion every year."


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