Outdoor worship a tradition at Camp Nidaros, Walker Lake

Each summer Pastor Stan Satre calls nearby lake cabin dwellers to the outdoor Sunday morning worship by ringing this bell at Camp Nidaros near Walker Lake. Tom Hintgen/Perham Focus

Outdoor worship during the summer months at Camp Nidaros near Walker Lake has been a tradition for 110 years.

This tradition has its roots in the purchase of property back 1909 by the original founders of Camp Nidaros who were mainly involved with the ministry. They built cabins and formed an association.

The camp is 6 miles west of Ottertail city on a peninsula between Otter Tail Lake and Walker Lake.

“At the time of our centennial, in 2009, we had 16 cottages at Camp Nidaros,” said the Rev. Stan Satre.

His wife Bev’s great-grandfather, Martin Soelberg, was the builder of the first four cabins more than a century ago. Her parents, with help from Stan and Bev’s brother, built their current cabin back in 1956.


Stan and Bev met during their collegiate years at St. Olaf College in Northfield and were married in 1954. Stan, ordained as a minister at Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1958, served in the ministry at several locations across the United States.

He retired with Bev in Fergus Falls in 2006, serving local churches on an interim basis.

Stan has been the main chaplain at Camp Nidaros since 1982, heading many of the 10 a.m. Sunday worship services himself and also lining up other speakers. He rings the bell at 9:30 and 9:55 a.m. as a final reminder for worshipers prior to the start of the service.

The last 2019 outdoor worship service at Camp Nidaros took place on Sunday, Aug. 4. This was also the last of five summer worships.

“This year was noteworthy with the purchase of new outdoor cedar benches for our place of worship,” Satre said. “If it rains, people come to our cabin and we can accommodate the 40 to 50 worshipers.”

Over the years, in addition to regular Sunday morning worship services, the site has also been used for weddings and baptisms.

“Our open-air services at Camp Nidaros have been very special over the years,” he said. “The tradition of outdoor services is passed from generation to generation.”

During the colder months Stan and Bev reside at West Alcott Avenue in Fergus Falls.


They have five daughters, four of whom met their husbands at St. Olaf College. Stan and Bev have 18 grandchildren.

“We’re blessed to have our kids and grandchildren stay with us often here at the lake,” Satre said.

Bev recalls the old days at Camp Nidaros, during the 1940s, when kerosene lamps were used in the cabin. Two of those lamps are displayed today at their cabin.

She says that the word camp is really a misnomer since, in reality, Camp Nidaros has always been a spot away from home for pastors and their families, many of them educators.

Of the 16 cottages, 14 are owned by family members of the original owners.

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