Summer camps are everywhere throughout Minnesota, and many are actually open year-round and aren’t only for young campers. Horseback riding, canoeing and archery, among many other activities, is the norm at these retreats. A good deal of camps boast meeting and event space, too, and are relaxing spots for attendees. The following are five of them.
Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement
Logs are everywhere at the Baker NearWilderness Settlement. “We’ve got eight log cabins that each sleep up to eight guests and a log lodge in which the furniture is all made of logs; it also has a stone fireplace up front and a vaulted ceiling,” says Outdoor Education Supervisor Ryan Barth. “When you arrive, you get that wilderness feeling. We’re in a big, beautiful, maple, basswood forest in the middle of 3,000-acre Baker Park.”
One of the education facilities within the Three Rivers Park District, Baker Near-Wilderness Settlement is a bit of a play on words since it is only 20 miles from Minneapolis. It hosts many summer camps and school field trips but is also used for event space in the lodge, which can accommodate up to 80 guests for a seated dinner and up to 100 for a cocktail party
Team-building activities include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, archery, a rock-climbing wall and geocaching, which is similar to a high-tech scavenger hunt. Team-building classes are also available on subjects such as pond study and prehistoric American Indian skills.
Groups can use one of the venue’s preferred caterers or prepare their own meal. “We only serve one group at a time,” says Barth, “which is part of our intimacy and wilderness setting.”
Camp Knutson & Knutson Point Retreat Center
Special needs children, youth with special medical needs and mission-driven services are the main focus of Camp Knutson & Knutson Point Retreat Center during the summer. “We have camps for kids with Down Syndrome, autism, heart disease and rare skin conditions,” says Director Jared Griffin. “We also have a family camp for youths with HIV as well as camps for children who have experienced homelessness and an adult mental-health camp. We do a camp for veterans and a family weekend for kids who have recently been adopted, too.”
Corporate groups also hold events at Camp Knutson, which is bordered on one side by upper White Fish Lake and Trout Lake on the other. Angela Hall, the dining area, can accommodate up to 165 guests seated. Ally’s Staff House Training and Meeting Center has a fireplace and can host up to 30 guests both seated and standing. Timberlane Lodge’s great room can accommodate up to 30 guests and also has guest rooms, while another lodge’s great room, which has a fireplace, can host up to 20 guests standing and has guest rooms, too. Husby Lodge and Sheena Heath House also have guest rooms.
Team-building activities include volleyball, canoeing, kayaking, water wars, paddleboarding, fishing, horseback riding and a ropes course. Guests can also take a pontoon boat ride.
Helping people get connected is the goal at Camp Victory, a nondenominational, Christian summer youth camp and retreat center. “A lot of parents and church pastors recognize how hard it is for youths to separate themselves from their phones and electronics,” Executive Director David Nelson says. “Our programs are designed to help build relationships by tying the outdoor environment and recreational activities with them.”
Camp Victory, which sits on the Zumbro River, hosts retreats for churches and other nonprofits and can accommodate up to 250 guests, who stay in multiple lodges and cabins. Five meeting spaces, including two with guest rooms, range in capacity from 30-200. Recreational activities include canoeing, kayaking, tubing, archery, ropes courses, mountain boarding, miniature golf and much more, and further team-building activities are offered in an initiatives challenge course.
For a quiet setting in the rolling hills of southern Minnesota, you’ll want to pay a visit to Camp Omega. Located on Lake Horseshoe and owned and operated by the Lutheran Church, Camp Omega offers 10 weeks and weekends of summer camp programming and is available year-round for retreat events whether it’s churches, schools, colleges, family reunions, corporations or any other type of organization.
A retreat center has meeting space with a fireplace and can host up to 60 guests. Upstairs are eight guest rooms, two that have 20 beds each and six that have four beds each. Five cabins, each of which has four rooms, can hold up to 24 guests.
“Another building with meeting space for guests staying in the cabins can accommodate up to 30 guests both downstairs and upstairs,” Executive Director Bob LaCroix says. “A separate dining hall can double as a meeting space for up to 175 guests seated and up to 120 standing.”
Team-building activities include canoeing, kayaking, archery, sand volleyball, hiking trails, a ropes course, a climbing wall and a nine-hole disc golf course. Pontoon boat rides are also available.
Catering is provided in-house.
Good Earth Village
Good Earth Village is a faith-based camp and retreat center that offers a nature-intensive environment. “We’re on the very western edge of the Mississippi River bluffs near the Root River, so our setting blends in really well with the hills, valleys and forests out here while still being comfortable,” says Hospitality Coordinator Ben Koehler.
Good Earth Village also offers meeting and event space. Log Lodge, the venue’s crown jewel, has nine guest rooms that each sleep three to four. It also has a log great room with a fireplace that can accommodate up to 120 guests both seated and standing. Six dormitory-style cabins each sleep 10-18 guests. Another building has a newly renovated conference room that can host up to 30 guests seated and up to 50 standing, and a dining area that can double as an event space, which can accommodate up to 50 guests seated and up to 75 standing. Groups can rent the entire venue.
Outdoor activities include hula hoops, brainteaser-oriented team-building activities and giant-sized versions of retro games such as Jenga, Yahtzee and Connect Four. “We also have more than 500 acres of hiking trails,” Koehler says.
Groups can use the in-house caterer or provide their own.