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Paynesville Press - August 23, 2006

Assembly Grounds to celebrate 85 years

By Michael Jacobson

This weekend, the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds will celebrate its 85th anniversary in Paynesville.

The camp, operated by the United Methodist Church, was founded in 1921 with the first two buildings (the tabernacle and Lakeview dormitory) being built in 1922, when the first campers came to the camp.

LKAG Chapel The camp is offering special rates for the weekend celebration.

On Saturday, Aug. 26, several events will be open to the public. The grounds will be open for guided tours, swimming, hiking, pontoon tours, games, and socializing from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A free picnic lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. And, at 4 p.m., a "Celebrate the Past" assembly will be held in the tabernacle.

The Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds - including the white chapel - was founded in 1921 and will celebrate its 85th anniversary this weekend.

A "Celebrate the Future" banquet will be held on Saturday night at 6 p.m. in the Lakeview dining room. Tickets are $8.50 per person. Preregistration is required by calling the LKAG office at 243-4544.

At the annual conference of the Minnesota Evangelical Church in 1921, the formation of the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds was approved. Originally, 14 acres were purchased from William Miller along Lake Koronis for $1,400.

Two buildings were erected in 1922: the 80' by 144' tabernacle and the 30' by 100' dormitory (eventually named Lakeview). The first campers also came to the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds in 1922.

In the 1920s, without indoor plumbing, campers needed to use outhouses on the grounds, electricity cost 50 per week, and ice cost 10.

In 1936-37, another dormitory, named "Hillside," was built for $6,216, according to the LKAG's 75th anniversary history booklet. (This construction was delayed a couple years due to the Great Depression.) Also in the 1930s, the white chapel was built for $2,176 (with pews from the Grove Evangelical Church, which merged with the Paynesville Evangelical Church).

By 1939, nine conventions were held at the camp.

By 1940, the Assembly Grounds had 32 cottages (with leases sold for property in order to fund building at the camp).

In 1954, 40 acres for Camp Koronis were purchased for $1,900. This cabin camp - located on the north side of Co. Rd. 181 - serves United Methodist youth. The lodge at Camp Koronis was built for $9,300 in 1954.

lake scene of LKAG In 1960, family camping was started at the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds. Red Rock Camp - which had been holding a week of summer camp since 1868 - started coming to the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds in 1961.

Red Rock brought 686 people to the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds in 1976, the largest week-long camp on the grounds.

When the Lake Koronis Assembly grounds was founded, the tabernacle and Lakeview Dormitory - as it was later named - were the first two buildings.

In 1975, the Retreat Center was built. In the 1980s, the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds purchased the neighboring Koronis Athletic Camp (KOAC), giving the camp nearly 200 acres of land.

Key remodelings during the 85 years of the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds include: the dining room in 1963, Lakeview in 1980, and the tabernacle in 1981.

A new Retreat Lodge was added at the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds in 2002, providing another 19 winterized rooms. It was the first new housing built since the Retreat Center.

By 2002, 72 percent of campers came to the Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds in the summer, and 28 percent came during the other three months. It had 7,500 campers in 2002 who spent over 21,000 user days (defined as three meals and an overnight stay) at the camp.

The Lake Koronis Assembly Grounds celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1971, its 60th anniversary in 1981, its 75th anniversary in 1996, and will celebrate its 85th anniversary in 2006.

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