Northland Camp and Conference Center, formerly known as Northland Mission Camp, is the result of God's blessing on the life of Dr. Paul Patz (1911-2000) and his family. Born as the ninth of ten children into a life of poverty, Paul trusted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at age 17. Paul would later recall developing a perplexing burden after his conversion. He felt God calling him into a ministry but was unsure what God could do through a poor farmer with only a third-grade education. As he pondered these things, he continued working the family farm through the dark days of the Great Depression.
A recording of Paul Patz, Northland's founder, addressing the student body at Northland in the late 1990's.
Starting with the passion of a young farm boy, God has developed a ministry that has touched thousands of campers' lives, trained hundreds of college graduates for ministry, and influenced many around the world. Beginning in 1948, Paul Patz developed a series of inventions that would revolutionize the farming industry and lead to his financial success. He eventually founded Patz Sales, Inc., which has been consistently manufacturing quality farm machinery for over 60 years.
Paul Patz and his family founded Northland Mission Camp on December 31, 1958. While looking for a new avenue of giving, Mr. Patz was inspired by Mr. Kraft at a meeting in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Like Paul Patz, Mr. Kraft owned his own company. He spoke of God's blessing bestowed upon faithful givers who donate financially to godly ministries. As Mr. Patz listened, he decided to give more than he ever had from his company's profits. In a short time, he and others in his church in Pound, Wisconsin, paid off the mortgage of their church property. Then, in the winter of 1958, Mr. Patz established a camp fund. This fund increased during 1959, and property was purchased in 1960.
Northland Mission Camp was the name Mamie Patz, Paul's wife, chose to identify the new 1,200 acres of property in Dunbar, Wisconsin. During the summer of 1960, construction began on the first camp building and was completed in the spring of 1961. That year, the building housed all campers and some staff. Each year brought more improvements. A boys' dorm was built in 1963, the Dining Hall was finished in 1965, and the Recreation Hall was constructed in 1970. The Rec Hall housed two large rooms--a canteen and a bookstore.
Northland Camp was originally built to be used by various Christian groups who could not find facilities large enough to meet their needs. The camp was rented to these organizations for several years. But as the Lord allowed, these groups were able to purchase their own facilities. As vacancies occurred and the need for more effective programming was evident, Northland Mission initiated its own program. The four oldest Patz children, all married by that time, had a large part in the organization and program. They helped in areas such as music, sports, crafts, and cooking. In 1967, Mr. and Mrs. Peterson were hired as full-time camp managers and began the Northland Camp program that we know today, with full-time counselors and staff. The Lord blessed greatly during those years. After many faithful years of service at Northland, the Petersons moved elsewhere, and Northland Camp hired a new camp director in January of 1982.
Of course, the camp increasingly grew under the leadership and participation of many qualified and inspiring camp directors (Marty Herron, Jeff Kahl, Steve Pettit, and Paul Whitt) during this 30 plus year period, which impacted thousands of young people, families, staff, volunteers, and churches. Exceptional growth continued to pack out the summer camping programs, and churches called Northland home. With its vast beautiful acreage and multiple modern buildings, Northland Camp has provided camp and event opportunities in the nicest facilities nationally. During this same period of time, while the camp ministry was prospering, Northland Baptist Bible Institute started in 1976. With 16 students in its first year, no one could imagine that Northland would attract up to 900 students during its best years, welcoming and training students from all over the world. The college arm of Northland immensely aided the camp ministry in its substantial growth because of the unique and shared collaborative efforts between the college and camp ministry, which utilized the same facilities.
With the college ministry unable to meet the ongoing strategic goals and mission expectations of the institution, Northland could no longer maintain the accreditation requirements due to decreasing enrollment, resulting in the closure of the educational arm of Northland. With nearly 4,000 graduates who cherished their Northland educational and ministry experience, Northland is still a place they, and a multitude of others, will be able to call home. Northland Camp and Conference Center, while closed for a short period during its 2015 summer and fall season, is again operational and is introducing camp ministry opportunities throughout the Midwest.
The Northland Campus is actively promoting and serving a multitude of miscellaneous events throughout the year. In addition to a revived and focused Northland Camp and Northland Institute, we are serving in the character and mission which historically graced this campus. In addition, the larger campus allows Northland to partner with other private entities including the Northland Scholars Academy, an elite international academy for 7th to 12th graders; several manufacturing companies that add unique opportunities to students and the surrounding community; and miscellaneous engagement opportunities serving the interests of other non-profit groups locally, regionally, and nationally. Our Northland staff remain eager to serve churches and community groups that choose to utilize this facility throughout the year.