Camp's Beginning

In 1958 Ed Nelson, Arnold Swanson and a handful of other men parked their vehicles on a gravel road, hiked through the tall grass and got their first glimpse of Lake Wilbur. They checked the depth of the lake, considered where a dining hall and some cabins might be built, looked for appropriate places to play and swim.

But in their hearts was something much more important than buildings and a swimming beach. In their hearts was a conviction that boys need Jesus and that boys need to know how to translate their walk with Jesus into a life that is sold out to living as a godly man. This would be a place dedicated to that. Buildings and lawn mowers and BB guns and bows and arrows were just tools to get a godly man next to a boy, so the man could illustrate with his life what it means to walk with Christ.

That’s Camp Nathanael’s heritage, firmly planted by dozens of men who invested financially, and gave their time, resources and boatloads of sweat-equity to envision and build this ministry.

Camp Nathanael opened in 1962 as an independent Christian camp for boys located near Hinckley, Minnesota.

Our Mission

Our mission is to raise up young men to be Christ-following leaders for his kingdom. A central focus of Camp Nathanael's program is our emphasis on leadership training and development, particularly for the high school aged young men who are the core of our summer leadership team. Following a rigorous application process, this team spends two weeks in intensive training. Through they summer they serve in a variety of capacities. They participate in daily staff meetings, receive weekly evaluations, and meet regularly with a mentor.

Using our beautiful natural setting as a backdrop, our programs, activities, skill classes, Bible explorations and living groups are designed to help boys grow physically, socially, mentally and spiritually. Our desire is for boys to understand what it means to know and walk daily with Jesus Christ. All of our staff members are committed to illustrating with their lives what it means to live as a godly man.

Camp Nathanael resides on one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes and is distinctive in the programming it offers. There is a complete summer camping program that includes camps for boys in grades 3 - 12, Father/Son camps, adventure trips, youth leadership training, and volunteer opportunities.