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Local students find plenty to do at God's Acres

St. Henry's Second Grader Dalen Bachmann swung along under playground pipe. Brian Hansel/FOCUS1 / 5
Maggie Vickmark dumped a muffin tin full of wet gravel while playing and pretending. Brian Hansel/FOCUS2 / 5
A group of St. Henry's elementary students ate their picnic lunch under the pines Wednesday at God's Acres in Amor. Brian Hansel/FOCUS3 / 5
Monica Bell, left, and Emmlea Guck tried making pipe music at God's Acres. Brian Hansel/FOCUS4 / 5
A group of boys from St. Henry's booted a soccer ball around. Brian Hansel/FOCUS5 / 5

St. Henry's Area School students were treated to a walk, run, climb, play, laugh and picnic trip to God's Acres last Wednesday as their 2018 year came to a close.

God's Acres, located 19 miles southwest of Perham in the heart of Otter Tail County, is the creation of Zion Lutheran Church.

Two days after some 60 elementary students from St. Paul's Lutheran School in Perham made their trip to the 30-acre park in Amor, more than 100 K-6 students from St. Henry's used the same facilities.

So what do children contemplate on a sunny May afternoon on God's Acres?

First-grader Damien Lafond munched on an apple as he pondered the afternoon ahead.

"I want to have fun and play with my friends," he smiled.

Classmate Isabella Schultz talked about what she would miss the most at St. Henry's.

"I like drawing and coloring," Schultz said. "I'm learning how to draw."

But she had something to look forward to as well.

"Me and my grandma and my mom are going to go swimming in Little McDonald Lake," Schultz declared.

Another classmate, Josie Rooney, was candid about candy.

"Whenever I eat candy I get excited a lot," she laughed.

Hailey Niehaus took a walk around the disc golf course before meeting up with some friends. She had been exploring God's Acres alone.

Her favorite part of the 30-plus acre park?

"I liked the teepees and the wigwams," she declared.

Zion Lutheran Church Member Marlys Baumann is one of the volunteers who has made the park what it is. A former Nursing Instructor at North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, Baumann has a natural interest in health, both physical and mental. It is one of the reasons the park combines sports facilities with a prayer garden and lots of trees, wildflowers and natural plants.

The park has already been used in different ways because of its beautiful, natural setting.

"It's just a gift of God that we can offer back," Baumann said.

The park has walking, snowshoeing and skiing trails, community garden plots, an apple orchard, horseshoe pits, a pickleball and basketball court, a disc golf course, playground, baseball/softball field, a volleyball court, soccer field, picnic area and Labyrinth. An amphitheater is in the works.

Baumann and her fellow volunteers are hoping to offer visitors even more as more people discover God's Acres. Donations fuel the progress at God's Acres.

A free will offering is on tap for July 22 at Zion Lutheran. A hot dog feed from 3 to 5 p.m. that afternoon complete with prizes and activities is also being planned.