By: Christa Meland
The Minnesota Conference has purchased 44 acres of land adjacent to Northern Pines Camp in Park Rapids that more than doubles the camp’s size and will provide new space for campers and guests to explore and enjoy. The new land includes 750 feet of lakeshore, and the purchase price was $415,000—considerably less than its appraised value, thanks to the generosity of the sellers, who wanted the land to remain free from development.
Initial plans for the just-acquired land include offering Northern Pines visitors new minimal-impact activities like hiking, tent camping, and cross-country skiing, as well expanding some current program offerings like archery, hammocking, outdoor worship experiences, and nature study. The land includes a modest seasonal cabin that Northern Pines will use for staff or as a guest retreat beginning in 2021.
In the longer term, the camp might consider adding a nature center and observation tower to the land.
“Camp Minnesota and Northern Pines Camp are excited and humbled to receive this beautiful property,” said Keith Shew, Dakotas-Minnesota Area director of camp and retreat ministries. “This purchase ensures that the camp remains a place set apart from outside development. More importantly, it opens up a new world for future campers and guests to explore creation and experience Christ in a pristine natural space. What an impact this will make in the hearts and lives of so many!”
The purchase comes after 18 years of conversation with the sellers, David and Sue Egloff, who are now in their mid-80s and live in Ohio. Although they have returned to Minnesota almost every year, recent visits have been shorter and they decided this was the right time to say goodbye to the beloved land that’s been in their family since 1917.
“We’re confident the camp will find ways to use the cottage, forest, and lakeshore to enhance and expand their mission,” said David Egloff, who has maintained a website detailing the history of the land. “It was important to us to preserve the land and have it used in ways that would serve others. Alternative uses of the land were not appealing to us.”
Bart Seebach, an attorney who serves on the Minnesota Conference’s Board of Trustees, led trustees’ discussions with the Egloffs in recent years and played a key role in creating the purchase agreement. He said the trustees—who authorized the purchase—have hoped for this result over many years, and he is overjoyed to see it come to fruition.
“This acquisition includes a very substantial and wonderful gift by the Egloff family,” Seebach said. “We are so grateful to them! They are passing their family’s legacy of stewardship and love for the woods at Fish Hook Lake into our care. I am so very hopeful our youth and family camping ministry will use this land to help people, young and old, forge and nurture deep relationships with God, whose love is so beautifully revealed in our natural world.”
Camp Minnesota has made several key sales in recent years as part of its long-range strategic plan. Camp Kingswood in Mound was sold in 2013, and Decision Hills Camp in Spicer was sold in 2017. Then in July, Minnesota Land Trust paid the Minnesota Conference $1.218 million for a conservation easement covering 383 acres of its Star Lake Wilderness Camp—thus ensuring the preservation of the pristine land while also generating resources for the conference’s camping and retreat ministry.
The camping ministry’s long-range strategic plan calls for Camp Minnesota to continue to invest in and expand its two primary camps for youth—Northern Pines and Koronis Ministries in Paynesville, and proceeds from these previous sales funded the just-completed land purchase at Northern Pines.
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church