About Us

Northern Pines is the premier non-denominational Christ-centered family conference in the Midwest. Started in 1974 to provide a life-changing vacation experience for families, Northern Pines has helped thousands of conferees see the difference Jesus can make in their lives and their homes. Over 1000 people come together each summer to learn from inspiring speakers and musicians and to enjoy the dynamic and caring children, youth, and young adult programs that are offered.  They truly do experience “A Vacation with a Purpose!”.

New Here?

Welcome! We are so glad you've taken some time to learn more about the ministry of Northern Pines and we hope to see you this summer at one of our conferences!  Northern Pines is the premier Christian conference for the entire family here in the upper midwest. We offer solid, Biblically based, age appropriate programming for everyone.

 

So, what does a week at Northern Pines look like?

As your family drives down the beautiful driveway from Hwy 23 to the heart of the Green Lake campus, you'll begin seeing faces that will soon become like family as you get to know your fellow conferees during the week.  You'll most likely stop at the Wilderness to drop of your 5th grade daughter and watch her run into the arms of her Cabin Leader from the year prior. 

She's been talking the entire way here about how excited she is to be coming back! You'll get her checked in and dropped off and then head over to the Junior High where your 8th grade son will be for the week. He high-fives the director and catches the football his friend just threw to him while you try to get his attention to come give you a hug and kiss goodbye. Then it's time to check in yourselves. 

You'll get your room assignment and welcome packet, stop to pose for a picture with your spouse and 1st grade daughter and then head to your new 'home' for the week.  You've got some time before dinner begins so you unpack and take a quick walk near the lake before heading in for some delicious food at the Dining Hall.

This is just the beginning of what will be a life changing week for you and your family. While your spouse and you enjoy solid Biblical teaching from some of the nations most respected voices, your children will be learning Biblical truths from our loving staff of teachers, directors, CCAs, and counselors. Through worship, games, food, friends and fun, your family and you will experience God in a new way this summer. 


To learn more about each individual program, check out our Programs page. We're excited to share more with you about what God is doing in each of these areas and hope we can provide some valuable information about what a day in the life might look like for your family.

Interested in learning more about the speakers we've invited to join us at this year's conferences? Check out our Conferences page to learn more.

To learn more about the various accommodations available each summer, check out our Accommodations page. There are options for every family and budget ranging from primitive (and not-so primitive) campsites to hotel suites and houses for the entire extended family! 

We would love to have you join us this summer! Please submit your registration online. We look forward to meeting you!

Contact Us to learn more or request to talk with someone in person. We'd love to send you our most recent Northern Pines magazine with pictures and stories from this past summer or give you a call to chat about our conferences with you.

We have a lot of promo videos and will post each summer's program videos and link to videos conferees have captured all on our YouTube channel. Check out our Northern Pines YouTube channel to learn more and get a glimpse of a week at camp.

We have started offering digital downloads of our speakers each year. If you'd like to hear more from the engaging speakers we invite each year, head over to our Archives to listen.  

History

The Beginning Years...

It all began in July of 1970 with a Minnesota family, Tom and Barb Warner and their girls, who went to Forest Home Christian Conference Center in California for a week of Family Camp. This week was life-changing for the entire family, and they wanted to share it with others. More families joined them, going to Forest Home each summer, over the next 5 years. Each year they would come back and say they wished there was something like Forest Home in the Midwest.

Prayers and brainstorming begin...

In 1973 several of the men who had attended Forest Home began meeting together and praying about starting a similar Christ-Centered family ministry in the Midwest. Former Forest Home Family Conference Host, Don Botsford, was hired as a consultant to help with the process. After visiting many sites, they decided on a location for the first conference at George Williams College on Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. There were many obstacles along the way, but God was at work orchestrating the first “Vacation with a Purpose”, soon to be called Northern Pines!

The early years at George Williams College Campus...

The first Northern Pines conference was held in 1974 with two one-week conferences. It was staffed with many of the lead staff from Forest Home and 108 families, 553 people, attended. In the second year 171 families, 768 people, attended. Northern Pines continued for several years under the coaching of Don Botsford, followed by Keith Hanson, Shell Sorenson, Carolyn Caufman, and, most notably, Ken Kallman and his family for 28 years. These individuals acted as the executive director for many years. In the early years, the adults met in an old building, Lewis Auditorium, which had open-able wooden “covers” that could be raised to provide an outdoor experience. There were  mosquitoes and raccoons who visited frequently. The housing accommodations had a rustic camp feel to them. Eventually, it became apparent that the GWC location was not going to meet the future needs of a growing ministry.

Transition to Green Lake Conference Center...

In 2007, Northern Pines transitioned the conferences to a new location at Green Lake Conference Center near Green Lake, Wisconsin. GLCC was also a “Christ-Centered” ministry and it became evident that this location and organization was an answer to prayer, as we now had a joint ministry vision with the leadership at Green Lake. There was more space, nicer “hotel-like” accommodations, more air conditioned buildings and endless opportunities for future growth. Dean and Julie Jaderston, who had been high school directors for many years, stepped into the Director’s role in 2008, and continue to serve as Executive Directors of the ministry.

Statement of Faith

  • We believe in the Bible as the Word of God, a divine revelation, in the original language verbally inspired in its entirety. We accept the Bible as the final authority in all matters.
  • We belive in the Deity of the Triune God: God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit
  • We believe in the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, His substitutionary atonement for sin, His bodily resurrection and His personal, visible return to earth to reign in righteousness and glory.
  • We believe in the person of the Holy Spirit and His Word of conviction, regeneration and sanctification and who indwells every believer.
  • We belive in the necessity of the New Birth, in Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
  • We believe that the Church is the Body of Christ, a spiritual organism of born again believers who publicly confess Christ, and remember His death in the sacrament of communion.
  • We believe in the importance of a life wholly committed to the will of God, in Christ.

The bylaws of Northern Pines require that staff members and members of the Board of Directors sign this statement each year. 

Board of Directors

Northern Pines is governed by a Board of Directors that meet monthly and work on behalf of the Northern Pines ministry througout the year. If you see a board member at camp, please say hi! We'd love to talk to you and hear your story.

Dean & Julie Jaderston

Executive Directors

Dean and Julie have served at Northern Pines since 1989.  For 18 years they directed the Senior High program before being asked to step into the Executive Director role in 2007.  They have so many wonderful memories of their years in Senior High and consider Northern Pines to be the spiritual connecting point in their family’s life through all the life changes they’ve experienced  and moves over the past 26 years.  Their three sons, Matt, Mike and Jake all grew up at Northern Pines, and have served in numerous programs over the years.  Now their two daughter-in-laws (Betsy and Kelsey) have joined the family in serving, continuing the legacy Northern Pines has left on their family, and so they are excited to someday see their grandchildren experience the same life-impacting vacations their sons did.  It is also a great joy for them  to see so many of the students they worked with in the Senior High program continue to walk with Lord (five of the Northern Pines board members were with them in Senior High!) and come back with their families to Northern Pines each summer. They look forward to many more years of helping families experience a vacation where they rest, renew, but most importantly continue to hear the God’s voice in fresh and new ways.

When not at Northern Pines, Dean and Julie stay very busy.  Dean is the head men’s basketball coach at Sterling College and Julie is the assistant to the chaplain there as well.  From 2008-2012 they also served together as youth pastors at Crosspoint Church in Sterling.

Gene Steward

Chairman of the Board

Gene, along with his wife Barbara first attended Northern Pines in 1986.  28 years later, their children are married and have children of their own.  What began as one family has grown to three families including four grandchildren.   With three families living in three different states, Northern Pines allows us to come together annually in an atmosphere that demonstrates the Biblical Christian message and the importance of Christ in the family.  We are blessed to pass the Christian message from generation to generation through the Northern Pines experience. 
Gene has been on the Board for five years, serving as Treasurer.  He has seen how God provides for this ministry not only financially, but also spiritually as his family has grown in their faith through the teachings and relationships of Northern Pines. Gene is a retired manufacturing executive now residing in Florida.  He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Barbara, for 47 years.  Though retired from his working career, he is very active in his local church, and leads a Christian Men’s group in his Florida community.

Brian Agovino

Brian is currently pastor of a church in St. Louis, Missouri.  He has been attending Northern Pines since 1990.  After attending all four years of the High School program he returned as a counselor in the Jr. High Program.  He was also the director of the Jr. High program in 1996 and was a part of one of the greatest food fights ever to happen in the history of Northern Pines.  Brian now attends Northern Pines with his wife Dondra and kids Darby, Sydney and Aubrey.  Northern Pines is a profound place for Brian because in 1990 this is where he received Christ as Savior.  It has also been a blessing because every year he returns with his extended family for a time of relaxing, spiritual renewal, connection.

Dave Bremer

Dave is a Partner in the Boulay PLLP CPA firm and the Managing Partner of Boulay Financial Advisors, LLC, which is the wealth management subsidiary of Boulay.  He started attending Northern Pines in 1989 when his oldest daughter Allison was just over a year old!  Since 1989 Dave only missed two years, the first was when his daughter Sarah was born and the second was the year two puppies joined the family.  Both of his daughters, Allison and Sarah grew up at Northern Pines.  When Dave went through an unexpected divorce in 2006 the Lord used the Northern Pines ministry to provide important support and grounding for Dave and the girls.  After attending as a “single” adult in 2006, Dave’s “wife to be,” Nancy attended as a single adult in 2007 and 2008 and they were married in 2009.  Last year, Dave and Nancy started bringing their granddaughter Mikayla to Northern Pines and they’re looking forward to seeing a growing number of family members attending in the future.  Dave enjoys helping on the Development Committee and doing what he can to help with the fundraising efforts of the ministry.

Evan Hunter

Evan first attended Northern Pines in 1986 as a junior high camper. He and his family have attended nearly every year since. He worked in the “Village” for a decade, in roles from counselor to Chief. He and his wife, Becky, met as counselors in that program and enjoyed leading it together for several years. Northern Pines continues to play a significant role in his spiritual development and growth in ministry. Now it is a highlight for the family – and extended family – every summer.

When not at camp, Evan serves with ScholarLeaders International, a ministry that provides him the opportunity to work with Christian leaders from all around the world. He and Becky have three sons, Austin, Caleb, and Micah, who keep life active and full.

Iris Johnson

Iris is a wife, mom, and gramma.  She works at Hopkins High School as a technical support specialist.  Her history with Northern Pines began officially in 1984 when she and her family attended their first Northern Pines' conference at the urging of her mom.  She has been on the Northern Pines board for over nineteen years and has served in many roles.  Her daughters, Joette and Leah, attended most of the programming offered, served as CCAs, and also counseled in many of the programs.  They now attend with their husbands and children.  Northern Pines has become a legacy for Doug and Iris as the whole family finds spiritual refreshment and relaxation at the conference.

Dan Koshiol

Dan, with his wife Martha and children (Nelson, Emma and Kate), has been attending Northern Pines since 2000. Northern Pines has become a foundational part of his family as it provides a time set apart for them to grow closer to God individually as well as a family. By dedicating time away from the distractions of a normal day, the Lord has always redeemed the time and met Dan and his family at Northern Pines.

Dan and his wife are blessed to see how their children have committed to Christ through their time at Northern Pines and how it has influenced their friendships and attitudes when not at camp. Having a week where they can spend quality time with each other is an enormous help to their marriage and the speakers have taught them much about marriage and parenting at each stage of their family's growth.

When not at Northern Pines Dan works as a reinsurance broker with StoneHill Reinsurance Partners LLC. Martha takes care of their "family" business and raising their children (and their dog Hunter). Nelson enjoys basketball and baseball, Emma is active in competitive dance and Kate focuses her time on gymnastics.

Brianne Loftsgard

Brianne is currently a stay at home mom, previously working in the healthcare industry as an IT Lead Analyst with Allina Health. Brianne has been attending Northern Pines with her family since she was going into 2nd grade - over 25 years! She has participated in every program with the exception of the Young Adult [it hadn't yet started]. She also spent several years as a clan chief and tribal chief for the Indian Village (now the Wilderness) as Midnight Breeze. She often CCA'd during the week she wasn't camping with her family and spent a summer as a CCA counselor before moving on to be a Senior High counselor for several years. She convinced her (now) husband Nate to join her one summer as a counselor and they are now attending as a family with their daughters Kadley and Myla. For Brianne, Northern Pines was instrumental in her faith - being a place she would come back to every summer before school started and be reminded of what God is and was doing in her life each year. She is so excited that her family is making Northern Pines a summer tradition and looks forward to the memories they will make as God works in their lives through this amazing ministry. 

Don Nelson

Don has been a part of the Northern Pines board for over 15 years. He and his wife Beth came to camp over 35 years ago and discovered how wonderful Northern Pines was for their family. Over the years, all of their children have come to camp as campers and staff. Summer is not Summer unless it includes a week at camp! Presently, Don is a stock brocker and his wife is a homemaker and mentor at their church. While their 'nest' is very empty, they are blessed to see most of their children and grandchildren return to Northern Pines each year with their families to enjoy this Vacation with a Purpose

Lynn Schoolmeesters

Lynn has been attending NP since it began in 1975. Her parents were instrumental in starting NP. She was on staff in the early years and her husband Scott joined her in 1979. Their children grew up going to NP. Mark Alan and his wife Jill with 2 kiddos, Paul and his wife Liza, and daughter Amy have all attended in various roles. Now she and Scott attend with their adult children, with 4 generations coming. It has been a solid foundation for their family, providing encouragement and refreshment through the ups and downs of life. In her free time she has an at home alterations business sewing for many weddings. She is grateful to be serving on the board to help this legacy continue to bless families.

Angela VanHouten

Angela is currently a stay at home mom to Mackenzie (6) and Parker (4). She began attending Northern Pines in the Summer of 1984 when she was only 2 years old. Since then, Northern Pines has become an annual family tradition, 30 years strong! Besides attending Northern Pines, Angela had the pleasure of being on staff in the various programs. She has been a CCA, a Clan Chief named “Fair Maiden” in Indian Village (now the Wilderness), and a Children's Teacher. Angela and her husband, Chad, now look forward to packing up their minivan every summer for the 6 hour drive to Green Lake. This week has always been a time to INTENTIONALLY slow down, and INTENTIONALLY listen to God's voice. 

With such a rich NP past, Angela is now fortunate enough to give back to a place that has come to mean so much. She considers it a blessing to serve with some of the same friends she grew up with at camp, bringing the “Northern Pines Experience” full circle. She desires to spread the word that Northern Pines is a place where God's love is both preached and practiced. It is a legacy that she is passing on to her children, and one that will endure because God is at the center.

Chris Wachtler

Chris joined the Northern Pines Board in 2015. He and his family have been attending camp for 18 years. He and his wife Missy, who is Pastor of Serving at Eagle Brook Church's White Bear Lake, MN, campus have three boys. Peter, 19, attends Bethel University; Charlie, 17, is a senior at White Bear Lake Area High School; and Nate, 11, is a middle schooler and also attends White Bear Schools. Chris is an attorney with his own practice, Wachtler Law, in St. Paul, MN.
Northern Pines has had a profound influence on the Wachtler family journey and has played a major role in the spiritual growth of all of its members. It is an integral part of who they are, where they have been, and where they are going in their individual walks with Christ. The week of spiritual renewal, bonding with friends new and old, and soaking up great teaching is one of the major highlights of their year.
Chris is excited to serve on the Board with other talented and committed board members. He is blessed by the intentionality of the board and is grateful for their commitment to pray for the ministry of Northern Pines both during the year and while at camp.

Chris Walter

Photo and Bio coming soon.

Aaron Wine

Aaron and his family started attending Northern Pines in 2012.  Since that first experience, his family has been hooked on Northern Pines. He and his wife, Dawn, are truly blessed with four amazing kids (Trinity, T.D., Jennings, and Isaiah) that love the Northern Pines experience more than anything else. Every year they ask the kids where they would like to go on vacation. They offer Walt Disney World, Cruises, trips to new and exciting places (domestic & international), and Northern Pines. Each year the kids unanimously choose Northern Pines. They look forward to it all summer long and they cry at the end of the week when they have to leave and go back home. 
Aaron works in the manufacturing sector and has been a Plant Manager since 2007.  He has a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering and a M.S. in Management.  He is also a licensed Minister, volunteer, coach, and outdoorsman.

Jon Zlabek

Jon, his wife Michelle, and two teenage daughters, Cassie and Caitlin, began attending Northern Pines in 2013 after asking a friend this question: "You raised three wonderful daughters; how can I do what you did? His answer: Northern Pines Family Camp. Since then, this week has been a nonnegotiable for their family. Jon and Michelle have encouraged many other couples, family members, and their children's friends to come for this transformational week.
Jon is an Internal and Vascular Medicine physician at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He also serves as the Executive Director at Cornerstone Community Church in La Crosse.

PINERs

Join our team and share Northern Pines with your friends!

Do you love telling your friends about Northern Pines? As you see your little ones sing of God's grace, listen to amazing Bible teaching, or hear your teens talk about all God has done in their lives, do friends come to mind who you want to bring to camp?

As Paul says in Philippians 1:3,5 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God... for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ. We are partners in this ministry and becoming a PINER is a unique way for you to serve and partner with us.
 
Being a PINER is easy!  
P-Pray...for God to show you who you could invite to camp
I-Invite...extend the invitation
N-Nurture...nurture those friendships and  be available as your friends register
E-Encourage...your friends as they prepare to come to camp
R-Receive PINER Perks... updates on current discounts, a free t-shirt for bringing a new family and materials such as magazines or brochures to share
 
Thank you for joining us in sharing all God is doing at Northern Pines camp! Sign Up below and you will hear from us soon.
Sign Up

Frequently Asked Questions

Many conference related questions are answered in our conference information booklet available to download here. Conferees will receive a copy a few weeks prior to camp.

Expand the questions below to find answers to many of our most frequently asked questions.

Is Northern Pines affiliated with any church or denomination?

No. Northern Pines is an independent Christian organization with no denominational affiliation. It was intentionally designed so that people from all denominations would feel comfortable coming together for a week and focusing on the things that unite us in Christ. Please see our Statement of Faith for our basic theological beliefs.

I or a member of my family has special dietary needs. Can you accomodate this?

Yes. Green Lake Conference Center works closely with conferees to meet all dietery needs. Youth and children's proram directors are also very aware of individual needs and work hard to make sure all concerns are addressed. To help the staff create a meal plan for your specific needs, please submit this Special Diet Request Form or call 920-294-3323 at least two weeks prior to conference.

What is Family Day?

Family Day occurs Wednesday afternoon. From 12:00-5:00 pm families rejoin from all programs and spend the afternoon together. All youth staff are “off” for the afternoon. Sometimes there are special activities planned for families, but it is also an opportunities for the entire family to do something together on or off the Green Lake Campus. See our Green Lake page for more information on things do to.

My child would like to invite their friend to join them at camp. Is this possible?

Absolutely. We have a number of "unattached" youth who attend each week. You can include them in your registration or register them separately. If the child's parent/guardian will not be at camp, they will need to fill out a Youth Health Form and either have it sent to our office or brought with you to camp. If you have any questions, please contact us.

I or a member of my family has mental, behavioral, or physical limitations. How might Northern Pines accommodate our specific needs?

We work very hard to accommodate all conferees regardless of any specific needs they might have. There is a specific fund that allows us to supply additional staff, aides, and/or equipment to provide for as many conferees as possible. Since each situation is so different, please call or contact us via our online form and we’ll work hard to put a plan in place that works for you and your family.

What is your cell phone/technology policy?

Cell phone coverage is spotty at Green Lake Conference Center. There is free WiFi in the Kraft Center and in public lounges, but we encourage all conferees to take advantage of the opportunity to unplug as much as possible for a week. We ask participants in our youth programs to put their phones away for a week so they can connect and build relationships within each program.

What should I pack?

You will receive a booklet a couple of weeks prior to camp that will have lists for each program.

Is there a dress code for camp?

One of the challenges of being a non-denominational conference is there are a wide-variety of perspectives on many issues. We want this week to be a week of freedom and relaxation, not rules and stress. We want you to be comfortable and to be yourself. Shorts and t-shirts are not unusual at sessions. You’ll probably see men in nicer shirts and khakis at Victory Circle and our banquet, but you’ll also see shorts that night too. Women are comfortable in shorts and blouses or t-shirts, but you’ll see many enjoy wearing a sundress now and then. At the end of the day, we simply ask people to dress modestly and comfortably.

What about bathing suits?

For adults, we leave that to your discretion, only emphasizing again the concept of modesty. For youth programs, we also emphasize modesty, provide our students and staff boundaries for that. We ask girls to not wear bikinis and boys to not wear speedos.

I need to cancel our registration. What is your cancellation policy?

We are sorry your plans have changed and will certainly miss you this summer, but we understand that things arise out of our control that require a change in plans. To cancel your registration, please contact us or call Julie at (612) 861-5100.

CANCELLATION POLICY

  • Registrations cancelled on or before July 1st will receive a full refund of registration fees (minus deposit).
  • Registrations cancelled after July 1st will forfeit all paid registration fees (including deposit).