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Open house today showcases Northern Pines upgrades

The lodge at Northern Pines Camp and Retreat Center has undergone major renovation and remodeling. See the upgrades from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The lodge at Northern Pines Camp and Retreat Center has undergone major renovation and remodeling and area residents are invited to view the upgrades from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. today (Saturday), Aug. 13.

The first year-round building at the United Methodist Conference Camp, constructed in 1970, was gutted last fall, director Rev. Bob Ford said of the lodge.

The exterior remains basically unchanged, but both floors of the lodge have been upgraded with new plumbing and electrical fixtures. A new game room entertains kids. And a residential kitchen accommodates adults and families arriving for retreats. (The commercial kitchen and dining area is located in Red Pine Center.)

The upstairs is no longer a dormitory, but holds individual bedrooms, replete with log beds created by Park Rapids artisans Beau Kujawa and Mike Landquist. More bathrooms have been added. The building is amenable to wireless technology.

Originally known as Northern Pines Institute when it was initiated in 1923, the camp is situated on 40 acres overlooking Fish Hook Lake.

Purchased from Dr. T.B. Stone in 1922, it was built as a sanatorium to house tuberculosis patients. Operational from 1915 to 1920, the building remains today, albeit with major improvements. The Cornerstone was gutted and rebuilt six years ago.

Three of the cabins were originally part of a resort.

The non-denominational, Christ-centered camp is now home to 16 cabins, 24 buildings total, five of which are habitable year-round.

Six Friendship Camps for the developmentally delayed are offered each year. A Treehouse Adventure program - kids residing in trees - engages elementary, and middle school students each summer. Paddleboats, canoes and kayaks send them out on the water.

Women arrive for scrapbooking and quilting retreats and men's groups find solace in the majestic pines. Families are welcome.

All the buildings are debt free.

A "major donor" provided matching funds to remodel the lodge, which was a $195,000 project. Replacement of a lakeshore cabin is next on the docket.

Ford credits the camp's success to "tons and tons" of volunteer time in creating the buildings. Generous, anonymous donors are responsible for the camp's fiscal constancy.

The camp employs 20-plus seasonally, three year-round.

Saturday's schedule includes a tour at 11 a.m., lunch at noon, dedication at 1 p.m. and tours of the lodge until 4 p.m.

The camp is located at 20033 County 1, across from Headwaters Golf Course.

"Here among the tall pines, at the edge of the water, people experience God's creation. Come."