For over 61 years, Big Sandy Camp has been following a God-given purpose of building and developing a place for retreat for the purpose of bringing people to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. This ministry is a part of the larger family of Christian and Missionary Alliance churches across the North Central District – churches in Minnesota and the Eastern Dakotas. People across the District have put in countless hours of work and dedication, overcoming financial problems, spiritual testing, and feats of nature to see this ministry continue.
In 1959, Rev. Leslie Pippert, Rev. Leo Berreth, Mr. Viron Miller and several other leaders of the District, after prayerful deliberation, stepped out in faith and purchased an old camp for $18,000. Located on Big Sandy Lake, they named it Big Sandy Conference Grounds. The camp had formerly been a CCC camp from the 1930s. It was dotted with old shacks and about 90% wilderness. Rev. Leo Berreth, one of the first directors, soon earned the reputation of burning a cabin a week for bonfires. The first camp sessions were held in the summer of 1960 with three camps.
The following year, a second purchase of land was made, with no back-up money, for $17,000. In years to follow, various buildings were erected, including the main lodge (now referred to as Lakeview Lodge). In 1968, remodeling was completed on the chapel. This building had been the summer cabin of former governor Floyd Olsen. The next year, the camp became a year-round operation when weekend retreats were made available. Family camps also became new avenues for ministry.
Today there is not much to remind you of the old CCC camp, but throughout the years the Lord has continued to bless the ministry. We now own approximately 120 acres, which includes six lodges, two chapels, a dining room, and a gym. During our summer season there are 11 weeks of sessions held, including non-Alliance camps, with nearly 2,000 people in attendance. During our retreat season, openings for fall and winter weekends fill rapidly as retreats are planned for youth, men, women, and church families. Young people and adults continue to meet the Lord through experiences at Big Sandy Camp.
The number of “friends of Big Sandy Camp” continues to grow. We desire to see our Lord continue to use the ministry as a means of reaching lives for Him and that He will be glorified in the days ahead.