A History of Life-changing Ministry at Skye Farm

In 1942 three men – Luther A. Brown, H. Elliot Chaffe, and C. Walter Kessler – sat on a big boulder near the outlet of a beautiful lake that was nestled among the majestic Adirondack Mountains and reflected on the glorious green of the forest. They were sensitive to the Eternal Presence in this setting of natural beauty. What if such a place as this could be used to inspire boys and girls with the same awareness of God that they felt? Surely this was the ideal spot for a Christian adventure camp.

Out of their prayerful conversation, a vision appeared and a compact was formed. The eldest of the three, (Luther Brown) a silver haired veteran of faith, would give his land for the Christian education of young people, if his younger comrades would see the project through. And so, one hundred and forty acres of mountains, brooks and lake shore were dedicated to God, and Skye Farm was born. Numbers of willing hearts gave money, scores of willing hands built the dining hall and cabins, and a host of willing minds planned programs and sent their youth to camp. Christian stewardship made the dream come true.

Impressed by the zeal and mounting interest among this small army of enthusiastic works, Dr. and Mrs. Brown additionally decided to deed to Skye Farm their twenty-acre lot with its cottage and building and eight hundred feet of excellent lake shore. They drew keen satisfaction from the fact that their largess provided Troy Conference youth with an adequate camp property second to none in possibilities.

Skye Farm Begins to take Shape

Edwin Moses, a student at Syracuse University, under the able direction of Professor Bradford G. Sears, designed the camp layout. The conference trustees loaned $1200 for building materials; a dozen people gave $50 apiece to build the small, waney-edge cabins that are still in use. The building now call the “Tepee” and the 12 other cabins were built by pastors and laymen who gave their time and labor. (“Tepee” is short for trading post and, among other things, is the location of the camp store. Many years later the Tepee received the official designation of H. Elliot Chaffee Lodge in honor of Rev. Chaffee’s role in founding the camp.)

According to one line of evidence, the name “Skye Farm” dates back to long before the camp was established. Apparently, Mrs. Luther Brown used that title as she enjoyed the cottage beside the lake in 1918. The lake itself has had several names over the years – Long Pond, Daisy Pond, Sherman Pond and now, officially, Sherman Lake.

Skye Farm grows

By 1955 the camping program was burgeoning. Reports indicated 100 campers turned away from the summer program due to lack of leadership or equipment. The follow year saw over 1000 youth and children involved in summer programs. Some 200 adults were required to meet the leaders needs. The report for the 1956 Skye Farm season celebrated the construction of a new health lodge, the purchase of a deep freeze unit in the kitchen, and the installation of a “much needed telephone.” The Skye Farm leadership worked over the years to offer an ever increasing range of camping opportunities. In 1963, the program included 45 different options for youth – including the canoe and hiking camp, which were new choices that year.

Over the years the programs continued to flourish in many directions. The low ropes challenge course came into being in 1999 got much use by campers and staff. The 2000 program included camps on circus arts, M.A.D.D., Christian yoga, science, and Animal Crackers (with an emphasis on farm and more exotic animals related of the Heifer International Project).

For additional deep and rich history information about Skye Farm, ask us about purchasing a copy of “An Enduring Flame: The History of the Troy Annual Conference.”

Historic Photo Album