Over one hundred years ago, a tribe of the Pottawatomie lived on the shores of Big Fish Lake. Their tepees, totaling near 75, were set up west of Indian Point and south into a clearing that is now covered with Norway pine. Little is left of their culture except perhaps the legendary Suz and Chief Silver Saddle – who campers used to hear about as they watched ghostly shadows dancing around the firelight.
In the late 1870’s a Norwegian emigrant by the name of Gunder Lia settled on two forties just to the east of where the Indian Village had stood. The root cellar of his cabin and some of his apple trees are still landmarks of his time. Even then the lake had already been christened with a new name as colorful as its original Indian name. A nearby homesteader called it Kvella Laken (Lake of the Evening), but Gunder felt that Lia Lake was more picturesque, so he named it again.
Near the turn of the century, several forties around the lake were purchased by Peter Kiolbassa, a Polish leader from Chicago. He changed the name to Lake Kiolbassa. The name stuck until 1957, when after its purchase by the Wisconsin Lions Foundation, it became Lions Lake.
The camp came about by a simple statement made by a camper to a Lions member from Poysippi. “Blind kids can’t go to summer camp and stuff like that.” Lion Ray Hempel took the idea of camping for blind children to the Lions organization of the state of Wisconsin. It took off from one man to a whole state of Lions Clubs finding this piece of property and passing a resolution at their state convention to create the camp and the Wisconsin Lions Foundation to administer the camp. This year, our 59th year of existence, proves that the Lions Camp and the Wisconsin Lions Foundation continue to serve those in Wisconsin who need our help.