History of Hidden Acres Christian Center

history of hidden acresHidden Acres began as the dream of the 45 Evangelical Free Churches of the Central District. In the late 1970’s, a task force set out to find the perfect piece of property to build “their own camp.” In 1979, the group found 640 acres and began to raise funds to make the down payment. A program of selling acres to donors began in the summer of 1979, and by early fall nearly all the acres were pledged, which allowed the churches to go ahead with this $817,000.00 purchase. Papers were signed in October of 1979, and the Central District owned a piece of raw property: 500 acres of timber and 140 acres of farm ground. The only buildings on the grounds were a hog shed, a dilapidated barn, and a corn crib.

Before long, roads were built, utilities were brought onto the property, and  a vision was cast. By 1983, a building was torn apart in Mason City and reassembled on the foundation of our current lodge. Many volunteers poured countless hours into this project, only to see their dream go up in smoke in a 1983 Christmas Eve fire that burned the entire building to the ground. However, this proved to be a gift from the Lord; through insurance, a new and much more functional building was completed by professional contractors by the spring of 1985. This new building allowed the camp to begin offering adult and family retreats immediately.

The first two weeks of summer camp were held at Hidden Acres in 1983 but it was not until 1985, that a complete summer camp program was held on the grounds. Throughout the 1980’s, additional cabins were built and summer camp began to grow. In 1986, the first counseling staff of 12 was hired to handle the 60 campers we had each week. During the first summer of camp, 384 campers attended at Hidden Acres.

The next decade was a time of tremendous growth in facilities and camper numbers. By the end of the 1990’s, nearly 1900 campers were attending week-long summer camp and nearly 10,000 guests came to camp for year-a-round retreats. Hidden Acres was hiring nearly 90 young people each summer to handle the increase of campers. Many new buildings and program areas were built, including the horse barn, lake, bunk house, and Johnson lodge.

Hidden Acres didn’t stop growing. From 2000 on, the camp has grown in buildings, staff and programs. The office was built in 2001. The Family Life Center was built in 2006, and the Inn in 2008. During 2009 summer camp, 145 young people were hired to minister to the 300+ campers that attended camp each week. Over 20,000 retreaters attend a weekend retreat. Family camps, reunions and outreach programs are growing. Fifteen full-time staff are involved in making the camp “truly set apart” for the guests.

Today, Hidden Acres is the largest camp in Iowa and one of the larger camps in the Midwest. There are 850 beds, 75 buildings, three ponds, an indoor swimming pool and gym, over 100 RV sites and lots of options for our guests to enjoy. We are thankful to the Lord that He has laid His hand on us and has directed our paths over the years. Our prayer is that through our buildings and programs, that your family might be blessed and touched, too, by the Hand of the Lord.