Background and History


In 1921 Rev. Floyd Smith and two other ministers, took a small group of boys to Little Tippy Lake, also known as James Lake. Receiving permission from the owner of the land, Mr. Charles Long, they camped on the beach for two weeks. Rev. Smith paid rent for the use of the ground.

After a few years, the program continued to grow so Rev. Smith made contacts within the state denomination for funding to purchase the lake property. Mr. Long was approached about buying the land and the 30 acres were purchased about 1928 or 1929.

For the first few years, following the purchase of the property, platform tents were used for housing, and they were set up in the present cabin areas. In the late 1930’s several surplus army barracks were purchased from Camp Pendleton. Rumor has it that they were purchased for $10.00 each. They bought twelve (12) and the army delivered them to the camp. As of today, one of the barracks is still used as the craft cabin. Rev. William Clarke and Rev Clarence Jones staked out the area for each cabin. In the course of the tent pulling, they found $2.85 in small coins that had fallen through the cracks in the floors. The two preachers took the money and bought ice cream for the whole crew.

The first state organized camping program began about 1933 even though groups had been coming all along. Girls were now welcome to attend and the camp went from weekend camps to weekly sessions.

About 1930, the first major building to be built was Jewell Hall, a two story structure that was built on the side of the hill. It was named for Rev. W.R. “Dad” Jewell who was a State Director of Christian Education. He almost got into trouble over it. The Executive Secretary of the Indiana Baptist Convention granted permission for the erection of the building, but the cost was not to exceed $1000. However, when completed, Jewell Hall cost $1200. Dr. Parsons was on vacation in England at the time of completion and nothing more was heard about the added cost.

Jewell Hall served as the chapel, dining hall, store, meeting rooms, craft center, and whatever else it was needed. The building eventually became run down and was removed in the early 1980”s. Currently, a large shelter house, now called Jewell Shelter, stands on the same location.

A flowing well was drilled on the lakeside of Jewell Hall, which was the only water supply. Toilet facilities were a rest room in the rear of Jewell Hall and a place called “Egypt”. “Egypt” was a large wooden structure housing about five outside type toilets. A large horse trough was fastened to the outside of the building to be used for daily washing and cleanup.

The camp was named Baptist Pioneer Camp because of a pioneer program for Jr. and Jr. High people in the Northern Baptist Convention. Some of the early pioneer pastors were Rev. Floyd Smith, Rev. William Clarke, Rev. Kenneth Beilby, Rev. Ralph Rayment, Rev. Harold Smith, Rev. Clarence Jones, Rev. Reuben Lindstrom, Rev. William O. Breedlove, Rev. Joseph Hughes and Mrs. Floyd (Peggy) Smith served as cook.

In the mid 1940’s, many new buildings were added. Horton Hall (dining hall) was built beside Jewell Hall. This building has been remodeled several times but is still in use today. The wood frame chapel was built, it is the most beautiful building on the campground. It is shaped like a cross and has been named for Rev. Floyd Smith, the founder of the camping ministry in our state. The wooden bunkhouses were starting to deteriorate, so new concrete block cabins were erected in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, along with shower houses in each cabin area.

Other buildings were added in the 1950’s as well: Manager’s house, nurses station, directors cabin, staff housing, shop and storage areas of which all are in use today. On July 13, 1942 the camp officially became the property of the Indiana Baptist Convention and presentation of the key to the camp was given to Dr. Horton, Executive Secretary.

One of the newest facilities is the winter lodge. This was built in 1982 with monies collected from the “Vision 80” program. This allowed the camping program to be more than just a summer ministry. In 1998 a large A frame structure, multipurpose building, was built as a memorial gift in memory of Rev. Bob Hammond’s wife, Mimi.

Most of the buildings have had some remodeling done to them. The cabins have been improved, buildings updated, painting done, but the camp is still pretty much as it was forty years ago.

The name of Tippecanoe Baptist Camp has been changed to Tippecanoe Camp & Retreat Center to better comply with our mission statement, Camp is an oasis of Christian community that surrounds persons with God’s redeeming love and enables them to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ as they continue their journey of faith.

In November, 2003, the fire box in the fireplace rusted out, causing a fire in the lodge. While there was little structural damage, the building sustained quite a bit of smoke damage. Remodeling of the interior took place. Thee original wood-burning fireplace was replaced with a

gas fueled one, all of the walls were painted; floor coverings were replaced, and new cushions covered the furniture.

Dec. 2004 new bunks for the lodge were built by J. R. Fitzpatrick and his family. J. R. was going to build the bunks but was killed in a motorcycle accident after building the first set of bunks. The following winter the Fitzpatrick family completed the project in honor of J. R. and Deloris Fitzpatrick. J. R. and Deloris had volunteered for two summers, J. R. assisted with maintenance, repairing doors and window screens, mowers and many/various needs. Deloris helped J. R. as well as assisting in the operation of the store, assisting in the kitchen, and in the office with some filing. Deloris continues to volunteer each summer.

December of 2005 12.2 acres were purchased from Danny Conklin across from camp east of drive.

December of 2005 we harvested 86 trees from the property. Purpose for removing the trees were for safety reasons many of the trees were fully matured and were beginning to deteriorate.

Spring of 2006 a carving of a set of praying hands and an open bible on the walkway to the chapel was carved by Thomas Wade a local wood carver. These were carved from the stumps from two of the harvested trees.

Spring 2007 we added the Super Slide, an 80’ long slide, from the ball field down to the creek. In addition, two low ropes challenge initiatives were added, the spider web and the nitro crossing.