History of Cedar Lodge

Lakeside Farm Camp

Eddy and Stella had a dream. They dreamed of starting a summer camp where campers would design their own program and then spend the summer learning the skills needed to implement the program of their choice. The Programs could be anything. From planting crops, to building a canoe. Eddy and Stella believed that learning to create things with your hands were as important as learning to create things with your mind. They put very few restrictions on the campers, and tried to pave the way to make their camper’s dreams realities. The year was 1964. Eddy and Stella had just purchased 150 acres in Lawrence, MI and had opened up “LAKESIDE FARM CAMP FOR BOYS” with a capacity of 12.

Eddy and Stella met at “CAMP FARR” where Eddy was Program manager and Stella, a young widow, had come with her young son, Chuck for a week mother’s camp. It was love at first sight, and soon Stella was giving up her life in Chicago and moving in to a camp wife’s life. Eddy and Stella had 3 of their own children with in the next 12 years; David, Sally and Amy. For 15 years the Edwards ran the year around programs and Summer camp for Camp Farr agency camp.

In 1964, Eddy and Stella felt they were ready for a change. It was time to branch out on their own and find a place where they could be their own bosses and implement some of their ideas. They found that place in 2 farms owned by the Nicholas brothers just north of Lawrence, MI. The property was purchased and 1964 saw the beginning of Eddy and Stella putting their dreams to work.

The philosophy of the camp was simple; a chance for children that are use to working with their brains to work and play not only with their brains, but with their hands. The target audience was primarily drawn from the University of Chicago Laboratory School and surrounding areas. It was a small group (5-10 campers the first several years) and all boys. Campers would sit down at a group meeting at the beginning of each week and decide what they would like to accomplish. They may plant a crop, build in canoe, put in a well, whatever they could imagine.The only rules were that they had to research it, discuss it and participate in the building\care process. In addition, Lakeside Farm was set up as a Farm, complete with livestock, crops, a garden and chores.

Many changes came over the years. In 1968 Eddy and Stella decided to go coed. As the years went by and camp grew, more structure had to be added to the program to assure some continuity. The original ideals and dreams that Eddy and Stella began with however, remained the same.

Camp Watervliet

In 1975, Eddy and Stella took over running CAMP WATERVLIET FOR GIRLS in Watervliet, MI Watervliet had previously been run by Henry and Velda Tatter. When they retired, Henry and Velda sold the camp and the new owner, though wanting the camp to continue had no desire to run it themselves. They approached Eddy and Stella and an agreement was reached. Camp Watervliet was a totally different type of camp then Lakeside. With a capacity of 120 girls and a expansive facility, Camp Watervliet ran much more of a traditional 50’s type camp. They had a strong riding program and were known through out the Midwest for their high standard. Since Eddy and Stella’s daughters, Sally and Amy had both taken a keen interest in riding, this seemed a perfect match. From 1975 to 1979, both camps were run by the Edwards on their respective grounds. The programs stayed as they had for years.

Cedar Lodge in Watervliet

In 1979 it was clear that a decision had to be made. Camp Watervliets program had become somewhat out dated and enrollment was suffering. Lakeside, on the other hand had grown to the point that it was bursting at it’s seams. Should they close up Watervliet?Build an entire new facility at Lakeside? Eddy and Stella decided the right thing to do would be a drastic change. They put Lakeside’s property for sale, moved to Watervliet, and started the process of buying the property to combine the two camps. LAKESIDE FARM CAMP and CAMP WATERVLIET became CAMP CEDAR LODGE.

The program changed too. Eddy and Stella sat down with their family and core staff members and tried to iron out the best of both camps, while implementing the ideals that had started them out so many years ago. Many hours were spent to curtail the program for a much larger camp then they had previously dealt with. In 1980 Eddy and Stella opened Camp Cedar Lodge in Watervliet, MI

Cedar Lodge stayed in Watervliet for 3 years. The camp and programs were a success. But time was against them. The Lawrence property did not sell, and something always seemed missing. After 3 years and much agonizing, the Edwards family decided that the Watervliet property was missing something special that the Lawrence property had had. It was not something that you could specifically put your finger on, but the feeling was wrong. It was missing a spark. After much soul searching in 1984 the decision was made to move back to Lawrence from Watervliet, take back over the old camp property and start all over again. The name stayed as Cedar Lodge. The program implemented 3 years earlier stayed on, and all the staff made the move with the camp.

Cedar Lodge in Lawrence

From 1984 until present has been a work in progress. The Edwards family does not only believe in the principal of “hands on” experience for their campers, but they believe in living their lives in the same fashion. Consequently, All the building that has been done at camp since 1984 has been done totally in-house. The only buildings at that time were the blue farm house, the dining hall and 1\5 of the existing barn. Those 3 buildings had to be totally renovated and remodeled. Everything else at camp: The fencing, the other 4\5ths of the barn, the indoor riding arena, the cabins, Stella’s house, the shower house, have been built by the Edwards, their staff, their workers and their friends. This makes Cedar Lodge a true family operation. This gives Cedar Lodge it’s feeling of home.

Since that time, some 20 years ago, a person has a chance to reflect. Truth be told, the buildings do not make the camp. If you were standing on the hill and overlooking camp, where now stands the girls unit, or if you looked around you and imagine you saw no cabins. If you looked behind you and did not see the shower house. If you looked below you and there was no Dining Hall, No horse complex, no arts and crafts, no jungle gym. Camp would still be there. That special feeling that you feel when you look over camp from the hill, or when you sit down at the lake at night has nothing to do with the buildings and very little to do with the program. It is the magic of the land. Visited by Indians so many years ago, you can feel the same breeze by the soft summer wind, and listen to the peepers as they lull you to sleep. That is the magic of Cedar Lodge. That is the spark. That is why the Edwards came back to make a camp in Lawrence, MI and that is why they stay.

Won’t you join us?