When the Bay View Association was founded in 1875 (then named, the “Methodist Camp Ground Association of the Methodist Episcopal Church”) it was following the lead of other Methodist campgrounds established in the east – places like Wesleyan Grove on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (1835), and Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association in Ocean Grove, New Jersey (1869), and Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly in Chautauqua, New York (1874).

Like those assemblies, Bay View was originally founded for the purposes of educating Sunday school teachers.  Also like them, the popularity and sustainability of the campground revival experience gave way to a populist education movement originating along the shores of Lake Chautauqua, New York.

The Chautauqua[1] Lake Sunday School Assembly first began as a place of summer learning for Sunday school teachers.  The program was so successful that it almost immediately broadened its mission beyond courses for Sunday school teachers to include academic subjects, music, art and physical education.  These, then, became the four pillars of what was to be known as the Chautauqua program: religion, education, the arts, and recreation – and these four programmatic pillars remain in place today.

One of the more interesting features of the Chautauqua movement was the development of an innovative educational reading program in 1878, called the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.  Within six years, national membership in these circles had extended well beyond New York – with over 2000 participants forming more than 130 circles in 110 cities. [2]  The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circles – still in existence today – represent the oldest continuous book club in America.

[1] “Chautauqua” is Iroquois, meaning, among other things, “jumping fish.”
ary Jane Doerr, Bay View: An American Idea, (Allegan Forest, Michigan: The Priscilla Press, 2010), 42.



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