HISTORY OF THE CAMP
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A group of interested individuals from Las Vegas met with the Executive Director of a Camping Association from Southern California in May 1982 to discuss the 820-acre parcel of land their association owned in southwest Utah. The lands were just too far away from California for their association to mange or develop it and thus a dialog was taking place to transfer ownership of the land to someone closer.
The interested group from Las Vegas included Mike Schaefer, Ken Tracht, Todd Early, and Dennis Engh who made their initial trek to the camp which consisted of a 40’ trailer, one pit toilet, a solar shower, and lots of land. A subsequent meeting in September 1982 was held to seal the deal and establish a board of trustees to begin drawing up the legal papers. The initial Board of Trustees included the aforementioned interested men plus Duane Sveum and John Mogren. Duane, John, and Dennis were asked to draw up the constitution and bylaws for the new Lutheran Camping Association of the Southwest. It took several meetings and many cups of coffee in John’s kitchen in Las Vegas to get it all put together.
Duane Sveum was the first Executive Director, but he missed a lot of the camp meetings, so Dennis Engh got called upon to run the meetings. Pastor Randy Foos had just taken a call from Calvary Lutheran Church in Las Vegas to a church in Arizona, so he became the State Director from Arizona on the new board; Chester Reed was from Kanab, Utah so he was the Utah State Director. Chester also owned a Fordson tractor that he brought up to camp in the beginning to help build the original road into the camp, which was through a pasture, near mile marker 105 on Highway 89. The tractor got stuck many times when the water flow through the pasture was heavy. It wasn’t until several years later before the road into the camp was moved to its current location.
The initial officers and directors served until the fall of 1984 when the cycle of fall election was begun. Initially all officers and directors were elected at the same time for a two year term, so elections were held once every two years.
In 1983 the camp received the donation of two more mobile homes for the camp, which became the central meeting place at the camp. In the summer of 1987 a contractor was hired to gravel and improve the access road from the Highway 89 into the camp (this was when the original access road was abandoned). Also in 1987, the Board of Directors hired Mr. Paul Fjare of Brauer and Associates to develop a Master Plan for the camp. The Master Plan was accepted by the association in 1989 and is still followed today.
In 1988, the camp drilled its first well to a depth of 600 feet, with water found just 70 feet below the surface. Then in late 1989 and early 1990 the association gathered its volunteers and a complete water distribution system were installed throughout the camp, which included a septic system. By the early 1990’s the association had accumulated additional land donations for a total of almost 1400 acres.
The 1990’s saw a lot of activities at the camp beginning with the water distribution system being installed, electrical lines were brought in to the camp from the highway, and camp volunteers began to construct permanent facilities at the camp. The first building to be built was a large building the included the men’s and women’s restrooms with showers, a laundry room, and a large warming kitchen that doubled as our new multi-purpose room. Outside a large new redwood deck was built, with it own fireplace. Then 12 new RV parking spaces were added, each with their own water and electrical hook-ups. Also added were a baseball field, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and horseshoe pits.
At the turn of the century, the camp saw continual growth with the additional of a large enclosed pavilion, four sleeping cabinets, two bunkhouses with private half restrooms, and a combined camp office and laundry room cabin.
The camp is managed by volunteers who serve on the Board of Directors of the Lutheran Camping Association of the Southwest which holds meetings either in Las Vegas or at Camp Lutherwood in the Dixie National Forest of Southwest Utah. In the few short years of the camp’s existence, the association’s assets have reached over a million dollars in land values and $1.5 million dollars in capital improvements.
A few years ago, the association was able to hire a camp host to be at camp during our camping season (May thru September) to welcome our visitors and overnight guests to our camp. The association is now gearing up to make improvements to a fish pond that is on our property, and begin improvements to add a Retreat Lodge in another part of our property at Camp Lutherwood.
This brief history of our camp was made possible by the archives kept by Dennis Engh and the research done by Robert Printup, who have both served as Executive Directors for the association in the past.
Our camp’s mission statement is “TO PROVIDE A CHRISTIAN OUTDOOR EXPERIENCE AT CAMP LUTHERWOOD, BY HAVING COMFORTABLE RECREATIONAL FACILITIES ALONG WITH THE SERENITY & BEAUTY OF THE OUTDOORS TO INSTILL CHRISTIAN VALUES AND FELLOWSHIP TO ALL OF GOD’S CREATIONS!”