The original property for Cathedral of the Pines Camp was purchased by Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, from Stella Lyght in 1948. Upon first seeing Caribou Lake, Dr. Reuben K. Youngdahl was convinced that Cathedral of the Pines should be the next outreach ministry for Mount Olivet Church. On the spot, and without consultation of the Church Council, Youngdahl immediately made an offer to purchase the land. In 1949 the camping season consisted of two weeks in leaky log cabins, many of which were built on swampy ground. However, the dream of Cathedral of the Pines had begun. Pastor Reuben Youngdahl directed the camp with immense energy and vision each summer until his death in 1968.
Upon his father’s death, the directorship was passed to Dr. Paul Youngdahl. The initial vision of Cathedral of the Pines as an integral and vital ministry for Mount Olivet Church came to fruition under the leadership of Pastor Paul Youngdahl. The camping season, now expanded to ten weeks, accommodates campers from third grade through high school. The camp remains full to its capacity of approximately 250 people a week. This includes not only campers, but high school workstaff and counselor volunteers, adult volunteers, and the camp staff. Along with the purchase of additional land, original buildings have been replaced with new camper cabins, the new Youngdahl Lodge and new indoor shower and restroom buildings. In 2003, Kristi Youngdahl was named Associate Director of Cathedral of the Pines. Pastor Youngdahl continued to spend every week during the camping season living at COP – interacting with the kids, leading the songs at meal times, preaching evenings in the chapel, and giving campers rides around the lake in the camp speed boat, until his death in 2011. Following Pastor Youngdahl’s death, his daughter, Kristi Youngdahl, took over as the Director of Cathedral of the Pines and is continuing her grandfather’s and father’s legacies at Cathedral of the Pines Camp.
Cathedral of the Pines continues as the “heart and soul” of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, and serves children and young people by enhancing their spiritual and emotional development through summer camp experiences. Each year more than 2,000 people are enriched by this ministry.