Steve Whitcomb said Camp House is named after a man, George House. The camp is located on Lake George. The camp is located about 20 miles northwest of Two Harbors.
ďWhen we first started, I was overwhelmed,Ē Dee Haines said. ďThis was my second trip to the camp and the camp directors, Erling and Melba Lundeen, made you feel at home. A person feels like you are making a difference by what you do, no matter what your job skills....the camp directors find you a job.Ē
ďA person really gets a good feeling knowing they are doing something worthwhile,Ē Haines added.
Four people from the Paynesville Lutheran Church worked on the ďmission tripĒ the first year (1997): Steve Whitcomb, Dean and Donna Bahr, and Dee Haines.
From July 30 to Aug. 3, Diane Dutcher, Dee Haines and her niece Megan Ford, Dale Klein, Dean Bahr, Dave Mutschelknaus, Carol Smith, Dr. Allan Solum, Don Tangen and Whitcomb worked at Camp House.
The first year of the project, the Paynesville volunteers worked with a group of teenagers from the Svea and Dassel/Cokato area. The group of young people were the first test group who enrolled through the Green Lake Lutheran Ministries at the shores of St. Andrew Camp, New London, Minn., for the high adventure/work camp. They were divided into two groups. One group was taken on a two-day hike and carried their own tents and backpacks. The other group stayed at the camp and worked with the adults. Then they switched places.
Whitcomb said Camp House is an old railroad camp which was owned by the Lutheran Church of America. When the churches merged, the Green Lake Lutheran Ministry acquired the camp.
Before it can be reopened as a camp, after sitting idle for seven years, the camp had to be rezoned. Once that was accomplished, volunteers have been busy working to restore the camp. Whitcomb said the camp is presently open only one month a summer for volunteers to work. Overseeing the volunteers this year are Erling and Melba Lundeen from New London.
During the Paynesville groupís first trip, the men built new steps for a cabin, built an octagon shaped deck for the banquet hall to make the building handicap accessible. Whitcomb and Bahr also repaired an old tractor with a loader so it could be used to carry lumber and scraps from location to location. Haines and Donna Bahr scraped paint and mowed the lawn.
The 1998 trip saw the volunteers painting windows and cabin floors, repairing the chimney and reshingling the roof on the administration building, installing water to one of the cabins and repiping the pumphouse so water could be obtained without having to fill the entire camp system. They also built screens from scratch and hung mirrors.
ďIt was great to see the log cabins being restored to their original state, rather than having the floors painted,Ē Haines said. ďWhere the floors were too rough, they were painted instead of sanded and resealed.Ē
When they werenít busy working, they enjoyed hiking through the countryside, canoeing on Lake George, and picking wild blueberries. In the evenings, the group would sit around the fireplace in the chapel singing songs led by their camp counselor.
Whitcomb said the kitchen requires a lot of work to bring it up to code. The camp canít be used for the public until the kitchen has been updated.
ďWe all agreed that we were tired. Knowing the work we were doing was for God and future generations of campers, gave us the energy to keep going. We sensed that we all learned some new things and that we all grew from this experience,Ē Haines added.
ďIt really felt good doing something worthwhile for others,Ē Mutschelknaus said. Heís ready to make a return trip.
ďIíve fallen in love with the place,Ē Whitcomb added.
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