By: Christa Meland
The Minnesota Annual Conference has closed on its $2.25 million sale of Camp Kingswood to the Three Rivers Park District.
The sale of the 127-acre property, located in Mound, was completed on June 27. Lay and clergy members of the 2012 Minnesota Conference session voted to sell the property, and following that decision, Minnesota Conference trustees began a process to find a buyer.
The 2012 legislation stipulated that some of the sale’s net proceeds be used to pay down camp debt, so a portion of the $2.25 million will go to that. The remaining funds will be used to support the camping and retreats ministry, and the Minnesota Conference’s Board of Trustees and Camping and Retreat Board recently formed a working group to identify the best ways to strategically reinvest in that area.
“Camping is rebooting,” says Keith Shew, the conference’s director of camping and retreats. “This sale represents a significant step towards revitalizing Minnesota’s camping ministry.”
Camp Kingswood dates back to 1947, when it was built by a group of volunteers. The camp served 2,400 people annually and attracted individuals of all ages and from all corners of the United States. Over the past 66 years, facilities on the property have expanded but the camp has stayed true to its mission to provide Christ-centered experiences and opportunities in a setting that takes visitors away from everyday life.
In recent years, two rustic, dorm-style lodges and three cabins housed groups both large and small. Aside from worship, other activities for campers included canoeing, fishing, swimming, rock and tree climbing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing, skiing, and skating—and the camp houses volleyball and basketball courts, and ropes courses.
But over the last several years, the conference’s camping and retreats ministry faced a decline in participants at its five owned locations: Kingswood, Koronis Ministries in Paynesville, Northern Pines Camp in Park Rapids, Decision Hills Camp in Spicer, and Star Lake Wilderness Camp in Pequot Lakes. A study found that the conference had more property than its camping ministry could support, and a proposal to sell Camp Kingswood was then brought to the 2012 conference session.
The Minnesota Conference still owns and operates Camp Koronis and Camp Northern Pines, leases property to run Camp KoWaKan near Ely, and offers short-term mission trips through Servant Heart Ministries. Meanwhile, Star Lake has been leased to an independent wilderness camping organization and summer youth programming has been suspended at Decision Hills.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church