Project Description


YMCA Camping & Retreat Services of Battle Creek & Kalamazoo

Luke Austenfeld

Executive Director

The Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center is located halfway between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo on a 200-acre site that was formerly the T. Ben Johnston Boy Scout Camp.  It is a unique YMCA facility because it is the first entirely new YMCA camp to be built in the last 50 years.  The YMCA’s goal was to create a state-of-the-art facility that could be used as a model for future camps.  The site, steeply sloped and heavily forested with over a mile of shoreline on Sherman Lake, was to be disturbed as little as possible so that entering the Camp would create a feeling of entering a sanctuary away from the rest of the world.

The design team worked through an intensive charrette process to create a design that combines the new buildings with sensitive site layout, which provides complete separation between vehicles and pedestrians.  The use of constructed wetlands for sanitary treatment provides one of the many opportunities for environmental education along the Outdoor Center’s system of barrier free trails.

Members of the design team in addition to O’Boyle, Cowell, Blalock & Associates, Inc. included Slocum Associates Architects, Civil Engineers, Inc., and Gordon P. Rogers, AIA.

OCBA continues to provide consulting services at Sherman Lake, and is currently assisting with several projects in celebration of their 20th anniversary year.


Honor Award, 2000

Michigan Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects

Honor Award, 1996

American Institute of Architects Southwest Michigan Chapter