As with many of the Lord's instrumentalities, it is fascinating to look back and see how He brought Stony Glen to where it is today. In retrospect, we see a pattern of people’s personal burdens and the resulting acts, all in proper and timely sequence.
A man named Joe Coughlin had an idea of relating boys to Christ through a dynamic program of achievement arid activity that included camping. This became Christian Service Brigade. In the mid 1940's Joe and a Frontiersman Group began Brigade camping in Ohio. They rented camping facilities where they could. At least two summer camps were held at Camp Chibiabos near Doylestown, Ohio. One summer boys were transported out of state to the Erie (PA) Bible Conference Grounds. Among the members of this early Frontiersman Group were Lee Troup and C. Sam Gray, both of Goss Memorial Church in Akron.
Concurrent with this, George E. Milner was trying to add dimension to his work with a boy's Sunday School Class in an inner-city Cleveland church. He was looking for a way to get them out into the country on some programmed basis. His father, George S. Milner was a key member of Hough Avenue (later Cedar Hill) Baptist Church. One Sunday in 1946 or 1947, Joe Coughlin brought his Frontiersman Group to participate in the morning service at Hough Avenue. G.S. Milner was so impressed with these sharp young men and their program that he invited them home to dinner. This all led to a discussion of the merits and problems of a boy's camping program. One of the biggest problems, of course, was lack of a site that could be developed for their special purpose.
As a result of his own work with boys, plus this new contact with Joe Coughlin and his Frontiersman, George E. Milner proposed to his father that they find a place to establish a Brigade camp in Northeast Ohio.
Before the year 1947 was out, they had located the present site. Five members of the Milner family formed a private corporation and purchased the main plot of 168 acres. This comprises all of the land, including the present lake and westward. Of course, there was no lake there at the time. George S. Milner personally acquired the 103 acres to the east of where the lake now is, but this did not extend as far south as the other tract did. This left a 44-acre notch in the southwest quadrant that was not in dedicated hands. This was later acquired by the Northern Ohio Committee of Christian Service Brigade with the urging of Carl Gunn and leadership of Wes King, at that time the Brigade leader at Euclid Nottingham Baptist Church.
In 1948, Joe Coughlin brought his Brigade Frontiersman to camp for the first time at Stony Glen. For the first few years campers were based in army squad tents along the east ridge of the glen. Sam K. Gray, the father of C. Sam Gray and head of Brigade at Goss Memorial Church for many years, also participated in this early camp program. Thus beginning what was to be a continuing relationship with the camp for the rest of his life.
The first building of any consequence was the east-west portion of what we now call the Rec. Hall. The end now devoted to program office was the kitchen; the balance served as a combination mess hall and meeting room. The north-south part of the tee, with the fireplace was added later. In the early days this building was known as Ogilvie Hall and the fireplace was dedicated to the memory of C.C. Barrett, Christian youth worker and music director at Hough Ave. Baptist Church for 33 years.
Water supply was always a problem. As a first approach, water was pumped up from the glen with a gasoline-powered pump. This was chlorinated and used for washing. Drinking and cooking was hauled from the spring, which still flows, east of the north end of the ball diamond.
The 1950's were the major years of construction. The original owners were closely assisted by a dedicated group that included: J. Harold Leunk, Bud Whelan, Bob Balmer, Ed Bilton, Forrest Burton, and Kay Boerwinkle. No doubt many other names should also appear with these. The 3 ½ acre Milner Lake was also constructed in 1950. Eight regular cabins plus Stoddard Lodge and the dispensary were added. A standing tank water system using lake water was constructed along with chlorination and filtration systems. Also during this period the log cabin, John Hart Milner Lodge, was purchased and transferred log-by-log from a site some twenty miles away. 1958 brought the new mess hall and kitchen complex known as Donley Hall.
These projects were financed by the original owners plus substantial contributions from other individuals and organizations. Chief among the latter has been, the Cleveland Home and Flower Show, which has donated many thousands of dollars to the camp for specific projects over the years. Names like Dougherty, Donley, Stoddard, and others on camp properties reflect this involvement of interested Cleveland businessmen. The late R. W. Sidley of Painesville also made numerous contributions of supplies to the camp besides providing the use of the company's equipment on occasion.
The Pioneer Girls began to use Stony Glen as their Ohio Camp Cherith in 1950. Directors have included: Joy Iddings, Phyllis (Chip) Cunningham, Louise Troup, Phyllis Morgan, Mavis Jansma, and Grace (Joey) Bonnema. Christian Service Brigade Directors since Joe Coughlin have been C. Sam Gray, Arnold Swanson, Carl Gunn, Lee Troup, Bob Draper, Elgin Green, Monroe Richardson, Charles Stewart, and Duane Helmick. As the first Brigade Field Director for Northeast Ohio, 'Chief’ Carl Gunn probably had the longest tenure and the greatest formative influence on Brigade camping at Stony Glen as we know it today.
Up until 1957, George E. and Mary Milner handled the on-the-scene management of the camp plus many of the other functions now divided between the Trustees, Camp Committees, and the Superintendent. Those of us who followed after never have quite figured out how they did it!
The original owners of the camp had been organized as the Grand River Camp Company. In 1957, they expressed the intention of establishing a non-profit trusteeship which would include other interested parties and, in due time, divest them of personal ownership in favor of a trusteeship. Over more recent years several people have joined this group upon invitation. Most of these have background in either the Christian Service Brigade or Pioneer Girls organization. A Statement of Faith and Constitution were developed and, on May 18, 1963, Stony Glen Camp was chartered as a non-profit corporation in Ohio. In June of 1965, a certificate of Federal Tax Exemption was issued by the IRS.
At this points the process of consolidating all properties under the ownership of the new organization was begun. During the year of 1966, the original 168 acres was transferred by the current owners: J. Arthur Milner, George S. Milner, James A. Milner, and Miss Helen Milner. Then, in response to the proposition by G.S. Milner, the Northeast Ohio Christian Service Brigade Committee donated their 44 acre tract on the basis of Mr. G.S. Milner's gift of the 103 acres that now surrounds the lake and has been named Leunk Woods. This resulted in the present well shaped tract of about 315 acres. Since that time, it has been carefully studied by a firm of camp architects in conjunction with establishing a master plan. It was their professional opinion that they had never seen a better campsite, offering the variety of terrain to make many different modes of camping possible. The Lord knew this!
In the year 1968, the Trustees were increasingly burdened about the need for full time staff at camp. It was difficult to justify further investment or visualize greater utilization without the thought of personnel in residence. Admittedly, we hesitated, realizing that our finances had always rocked along at the 'just adequate’ level. At that critical time, a young couple from Ravenna challenged us to match their faith. Duane Helmick had been a counselor at camp and he and his wife, Peggy, had also helped with some work projects.
The Trustees authorized the Treasurer to seek a 30,000 bank loan for a caretaker's residence, storage and shop buildings, and other vital tools and equipment. The Helmicks officially entered the work on October 15, 1968 and Duane supervised groundbreaking for the resident home on the following day.
The summer of '72 saw the Lord raise up Mike Mace, also from Ravenna, to come as additional full time staff. Later, in May of 1973, Mike was married. His wife, Patty, now serves as office and financial secretary. God continues to match each need.
The Trustees of Stony Glen are excited about the further development and use of this marvelous property with which we are now entrusted. We trust you will pray with us that we might see clearly what our next step should be and that we will have faith to pursue it.
At present, top priority items include a sewage treatment system, the Family Camp Area, and Sam Gray Memorial Lodge.
AS WE PROPOSE, MAY GOD DISPOSE (circa 1977 - 30th Anniversary)
(George S., George E., J. Arthur, Miss Helen Milner and Miss Esther Hege)