Cradle Beach was founded in 1888 with the sole purpose of serving underprivileged children from the city of Buffalo in a time when diphtheria, cholera infantum and typhoid were major killers of infants and children. The Fresh Air Mission, as it was called then would provide a place where these children could enjoy the sun, water and wind, while having enough to eat. They were brought to the shores of Lake Erie by horse drawn carriage, lived in tents on the hill and were brought to a big farm house for meals. For many years the organization continued to serve children in this capacity. As it began to grow in numbers of children served and in structure, cabins were built for the children to sleep in. Programs were put in place to make their stay an enjoyable one, while still helping the camper to become healthy.
In 1946, after many years of serving only underprivileged children, the summer camp program took its first group of children with special needs, financed by the Buffalo Rotary Club. A new era in the history of the camp had begun. A new philosophy began to take shape, holding true then and now – every child, even the most small and deprived has importance and dignity. The children with special needs were integrated into the program with “well children”. Physical structures were built with these children’s lives in mind. The cabins were at ground level, allowing easy access for those in wheelchairs or using walkers. A tunnel was built for the children to easily cross the street, as the camp was split by Old Lakeshore Road.
As the needs of the children served by Cradle Beach Camp expanded, the need for a larger, more easily accessible camp was realized. In 1996 the camp was moved to its current location. Still located on the shores of Lake Erie, the camp is over 60 acres of beach, woods, nature trails and open space. The camp facilities include 15 cabins, large dining and recreation hall, infirmary, computer lab, library, and an arts and crafts center. All facilities are designed to meet the special needs of our campers. Outdoor facilities include a tennis court, basketball court, baseball field, walking-hiking trails, low ropes course, a universally accessible playground, adaptive challenge course and a swimming pool that is one of very few in the state to be fully accessible to all children…..