At the heart of Camp Lawrence is a place where many have come to see the face of Christ. The natural beauty, deep tradition, and life-giving ministry that takes place at Camp come together to create an environment where the hearts of those who visit are opened to the burning presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit who leads them to Jesus. Bishop Grutka and Msgr. Grouthouse captured this truth in the earliest days of Camp in the motto they coined, “Close to Nature, Closer to God.”
In the nearly sixty years of Camp’s existence, youth at Summer Camp, teens at retreats, adults serving the youth or on their own retreat have been brought into a deeper relationship with Jesus and formed more closely into disciples
Msgr. William Martin described the founder of Camp Lawrence, Msgr. Lawrence Grouthouse, as, “…A Dreamer-Doer.” He stated that Camp Lawrence is a tribute to Msgr. Grouthouse’s dream for the Diocese and his hands-on approach to getting things done. Msgr. Martin, who was the first Director of the Camp Lawrence CYO Summer Camp went on to say of Msgr. Grouthouse, "He was a visionary and wasn't afraid to dream..." Generations of youth and adults from the Diocese of Gary to others who came from as far away as Alaska and Texas have been the beneficiaries of Msgr's dreaming and doing.
Msgr. Grouthouse purchased the first plot of land, an eighty-acre farm, in 1950 for $15,200.00. In 1957, Bishop Andrew Grutka joined Msgr. Grouthouse in his dream and on August 10th of that year the Camp was officially dedicated and named after Msgr. Grouthouse. At that time, priests of the Diocese referred to it as Grottie’s Mud Hole. There was a great deal of work to do before the first summer camp took place in 1959. Over time, the property has been expanded to its current acreage, approximately 150 acres, and grown from the original five abandoned army barracks transported to the grounds to be the first “cabins” to the current buildings.
The founding dream or vision of Camp Lawrence was always that it would be a ministry of the Diocese. Msgr. Martin, reflecting on Camp wrote, "...the Camp Lawrence program has been a vital ministry of service to the church and the community at large. ...youngsters...seminarians and college students have been ministering and have been ministered to in one of the most exciting ministries of the Church.