Camp Lor-Ray is celebrating 50 years! We’re selling a history book to mark the event. Check back for details on how to buy!
Camp Lor-Ray actually has its beginning three years prior to the incorporation of the Association. In 1962, an ELS youth camp was held near Lombard Illinois by the Lake Michigan Circuit of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod, under the direction of the Rev. Robert Moldstad (St. Timothy, Lombard, IL; ELS) with help from the Rev. Ted Kuster (St. Paul’s Lutheran, Chicago, IL; ELS). In its first week, 166 campers and counselors attended, making it the largest camp of the Synod. The second year they hoped to attract up to 250 attendees.
While serving at St. Timothy, Rev. Moldstad also served on the Youth Board of the ELS. In 1964 a resolution was passed at the summer ELS Convention: “That the Youth Board investigate the possible acquisition of area campsites for development.”
With the success of the newly established camp in Illinois, yet with no permanent facility, in 1965, Rev. Moldstad gathered a group of laymen and pastors together to form an association with the goal to acquire property on which to build a camp for Synod youth and those in fellowship with the Synod. Among the men was Dr. William Langrader, Rev. Ted Kuster, and Rev. Jim Olsen.
Fresh out of Bethany Lutheran Theological Seminary, Rev. Jim Olsen was called to serve Holton Lutheran Church (ELS). In the spring of 1965, Rev. Olsen became aware of land nearby the Holton congregation for sale from the State: 23 acres, including a 15 acre man-made lake. This timely development stirred considerable enthusiasm and the Lor-Ray Camp Association became a reality on May 22, 1965, being recognized as an official non-profit of Michigan in December of 1965. Two adjoining parcels of land were subsequently purchased and by the fall of 1965, the Lor-Ray Camp Association could point with pride to the 165 pine scented acres embracing a private lake.
The outdoor chapel (pictured above in July, 1970) was one of the first developments made to the new property.
The name “Lor-Ray” is a contraction of Lorlie and Raymond Reiser, members of St. Timothy Lutheran who volunteered at the initial Illinois camp. Lorlie and Raymond Reiser lost their lives in an automobile crash in 1963.
“Lake Setterbo” has been named in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Albert Setterbo, members of First Lutheran Church, Suttons Bay (ELS), who also became the victims of an auto accident while in route to serve at camp.
The entrance road is “Pioneer Trail” in honor of the Lutheran Pioneer Trains and Caravans, which worked so hard during the spring of 1966 to make the trail passable.
The dining hall/kitchen is named in honor of Rev. Moldstad, the picnic pavilion is dedicated to Mr. Grumbir, and our residential cabins are named in honor of Mr. Karnitz and Mr. Gorkse, all instrumental members of the LRCA Board.
Today, Camp Lor-Ray serves youth and families of both the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.