Our History


historical documentary


The late mr. and mrs. Ray Bird (Ethel)


On December 8th 1914, Mr. Ray Bird backed by a few concerned citizens opened the doors of the City Rescue Mission to South Bend's homeless and needy citizens. Their first Sunday School service was attended by a group of 24 children. The Bird's ministry would continue to focus on the needy children and their families for many years to come. By 1935 the Sunday school had an enrollment of 450 persons.

On an early summer morning in 1919 the Elks Club gathered together on newly acquired land purchased for the City Rescue Mission at Chain O'Lakes (now known as Bass Lake). Mr. & Mrs. Fredrick Cunningham and Mr. & Mrs. James Oliver donated the parcel jointly for Ray Bird's Fresh Air Camp. The Elks Club erected the camp's original lodge in a single day. It became a haven for hundreds of destitute families for years to come. The families worked through the hard times, the husbands seeking work in town while the wives and children raised garden crops at the camp to sell in town. The camp still has in its possession a large garden sprayer, which was used by the Bird's gardeners in the 1920's.

another picture of original lodge.jpg

As years passed the camp evolved to meet the needs of each passing generation of needy children. The need continues and the program has continued to change and grow to meet today's needs. But the bottom line stays the same - we are hear to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ!

hay ride 1956.jpg

Today the City Mission no longer exists, but Bird's Fresh Air Camp now known as Camp Ray Bird, continues preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the at-risk children and teens.