SHARON -- More than 300 people attended the 60th Anniversary Celebration at Silver Lake Conference Center on Saturday, August 26. Six generations of campers, staff, volunteers, and donors gathered together to honor the conference center's 60 years of outdoor ministry.
"Sixty in relationships is traditionally known as the diamond anniversary, and this is a diamond for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ," said Conference Minister the Rev. Kent J. Siladi. "This place, Silver Lake Conference Center, where so many lives have been touched by what happens here by building of relationships, by building true community, by accepting people for who they are. We are so pleased to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Silver Lake Conference Center and look forward to the next 60 years."
The celebration included exhibits of Silver Lake history including a 30-foot timeline compiled by Rev. Karl Duetzmann, pastor of the United Church of Christ in Devon. Videos showed footage from across the decades and even some clips from days before 1957 when Silver Lake was first purchased by the Conference.
Those attending the celebration enjoyed live music, tours of buildings including the energy efficient renovations of the Lodge, hayrides to the waterfront, games on the ball field, a bounce house, and worship at the Hubbell Chapel. Groups gathered together to take photos by decade to show which years they had attended camp, worked on staff, or volunteered for conferences.
For most, however, the highlight of the day was a chance to reconnect with friends and the Silver Lake community. Many of those who attended posted photos and reflective words on social media over the weekend. (View a Photo Gallery)
SLCC alumnus Josh Weber wrote, "All these experiences have brought me to where I am this very minute. That my friends, is THE ROAD I CAME IN ON. Every one of you at Silver Lake today and those of you who were here in our hearts and thoughts have contributed to 1000's of young minds over these past 60 years. Ponder just for a second the enormity of that."
Others simply posted a selfie of their own smile with captions that read, "Places you love bring smiles and hugs."
During a break in the music, Siladi addressed the crowd about the years to come.
"We are excited about the future of Silver Lake," said Siladi. "There are lots of things happening including a more strategic marketing of Silver Lake as a year-round facility…and we’re going to build a new high-ropes course."
A design of the new course, created by High 5 Adventure Learning Centers, has been finalized and construction on the new site will begin in October. Further details, including ways to support the project, will be announced soon.