It was a magical summer at each of your three Camp Minnesota locations: Camp Koronis/Koronis Ministries, Northern Pines Camp, and KoWaKan Adventures. The canoes have been stowed, the scissors and glue sticks packed away, and the last sticky S’more roasted around a closing campfire. Now your camping leaders are celebrating the conclusion of a summer filled with helping campers and guests of all ages experience Christ, creation, and community at your Minnesota United Methodist Camp and Retreat Centers.
Camp Koronis/Koronis Ministries
2023 summer camp by the numbers
This summer, nearly 1,000 campers attended summer camping events offered at Camp Koronis in Paynesville and Northern Pines Camp in Park Rapids, with another 62 campers taking part in off-site adventures around Minnesota and even into Canada! Overall registrations at our residence sites decreased by an average of 2.5 percent since 2022, with Koronis growing by 0.5 percent and Northern Pines decreasing by 5.5 percent. Forty percent of Minnesota UMC congregations sent one or more campers in 2023. Of the nearly 1,000 camp attendees, 59 percent came from Minnesota UMC congregations, 31 percent came from other Minnesota denominations, and 10 percent had no church affiliation.
At Koronis Ministries, 2023 was the first year that campers and guests enjoyed the newly completed Tabernacle. This long-awaited building includes a state-of-the-art worship space, a beautiful new dining room with a gorgeous view of Lake Koronis, and a cutting-edge kitchen.
“We received rave reviews from large groups who were able to use the new worship space all summer long. People walk into the new space, and it takes their breath away!” shared Koronis Director Dan Ziegler.
Koronis also hosted its first wedding in the new Tabernacle this summer. Koronis’ kitchen team served more than 30,000 meals this summer, including more than 300 people per meal during their busiest weeks.
With strong retreat and conference bookings in 2023, Koronis is projecting its highest level of overall usage since 2005.
Having such large numbers of camp and retreat participants on site requires a dedicated, focused, and mission-minded team to provide hospitality and leadership throughout the summer season. “We had an excellent [summer] staff”, said Ziegler.
One counselor shared, “Camp counseling is hard work but the difference you make in a camper’s life is amazing. Campers leave camp with memories that will last their entire lives and you help them make those memories.”
Northern Pines Camp
Northern Pines Camp was filled with energy and excitement this summer as campers and guests experienced their favorite activities and programs including kayaking and fishing, archery and hatchet throwing, sleeping in the treehouses, relaxing in the hammock village, worship in the chapel, hikes through the newly acquired forest land, campfires, and beautiful sunsets along the shore of Fish Hook Lake.
Several camp events at Northern Pines have been growing in popularity. Games Galore and More, led by Rev. Amanda Larsen and open to seventh through 12th grade youth, began in 2021 with eight campers attending. In 2022, there were 16 campers, and in 2023, a whopping 22 campers! Through Gamer Academy
sessions, which are Bible study/ethics/life kit lessons, Rev. Larsen explores alignment between games like organized Dungeons & Dragons
and Magic the Gathering
and life. This year’s theme was on stories of good and evil and focused on how we can play to win in such a way that everyone enjoys the game.
Family camp attendance, spread out over three separate events as well as a grandparent/grandchild camp, has grown by nearly 20 percent since 2021. Families of all sizes and configurations experienced all that Northern Pines had to offer over the course of a fun-filled week.
One longtime camper shared, “We have been coming for over 45 years, and our grandkids love it as much as we do! Great stories and memories!”
Another attendee shared their favorite part of camp is “meeting new people and watching my child experience and enjoy the same camp that I enjoyed and loved as a child (and still do!).”
The staff team at Northern Pines helped deliver wonderful experiences to campers and guests this summer. Each staff member had opportunities to serve in various roles throughout the summer including cabin leadership, food service, worship leading, program leadership, maintenance, and hospitality. The team was blessed with three truly amazing and dedicated international staff from Hungary, South Africa, and Scotland, adding an extra layer of experience and culture to camp programming.
In July, we said goodbye to longtime Northern Pines staff member, Carol Ford. Carol retired after 23 years of leadership at Northern Pines Camp. Her ministry has impacted the hearts and minds of countless campers, staff, families, and guests. Her work, and the spirit by which she served, made a positive difference to our campers, churches, and the Minnesota United Methodist Conference. Carol will be missed by many! We thank Carol for her years of dedicated service to Camp Minnesota.
The Camp Minnesota team is grateful for the opportunity to have spent time with campers and guests this summer! It is truly a privilege to be with you in these special places, set apart for all to experience Christ, creation, and community in the unique and impactful ways that your camp and retreat ministries offer.
Plans are already underway for next summer’s camping season. We can’t wait to see you then!
August 31, 2023
This article may also be found at the minnesotaumc.org website.
Keith Shew is the Dakotas-Minnesota Area director of camp & retreat ministries.