In 1903 Wonderland Camp began as a Salvation Army “Fresh Air Camp” which provided a pleasant retreat for low income mothers and their children that allowed them to escape the stresses of inner city life and to experience the scents and sights of the outdoors.
The camp officially opened on July 4, 1924 and has continued to transform from its humble beginnings. In 1934 the Shagbark section of camp was built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) with the help of a generous donation from American Humorist, Actor and Philanthropist, Will Rogers.
A major rebuilding project was undertaken to replace most of the original cabins in 1967. Our name was then changed to Wonderland Camp & Conference Center in 1983. Through 1995-2005 we continued to build, constructing the Wonderland Chapel, The Wonderland Lodge, The Sharp Activity Center, a state of the art dining hall & the transformation of Sandpiper into a hotel facility.
Today, Wonderland Camp serves many at risk children every summer. Their lives are enriched physically, personally and spiritually through healthy outdoor activities in a safe and caring environment in which the children can learn and grow.
Wonderland Camp now ranks as one of the largest camp and conference centers in the Midwest with over 700 lodging accommodations in year round heated and air conditioned facilities. Wonderland Camp and Conference Center continues its commitment to providing quality service to all its guests.
The core mission of Wonderland Camp and Conference Center is to transform the lives of inner city youth through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every summer counselors spend one on one time with the campers building close relationships with them where they learn about the campers and earn their trust. Some campers are met for the first time with three nutrious meals, adults they respect and adults that respect them, clean parks, and the safety of not needing to “watch their backs”.
Most campers who live only a few miles away from Lake Michigan have never gone swimming. Many youth from Chicago’s poorer neighborhoods have never enjoyed walking in the woods, seeing the stars, or hearing birds sing in the trees.
Many youth make a commitment to God each week. Many more extend their faith beyond camp by committing to read the Bible, going to church, praying, and loving their neighbors. Through the power of Jesus Christ many kids return to camp years later and become counselors themselves. The resulting change is one that spreads to their families and their communities, one person at a time.
The Salvation Army is an International, Evangelical Christian Church dedicated to providing individuals worldwide with spiritual, physical, social and emotional support. Our organization is made up of thousands of officers, soldiers, adherents employees, volunteers and other individuals all working together to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people, as well as struggling to meet the physical needs of those less fortunate.
To Learn More about The Salvation Army Metro Division visit: www.salarmychicago.org