The History of Oak Forest Center
In the early 1970’s, developers of this property planned a “second home community" on 2,800 acres of land, and began designing it. A clubhouse, known in the community as Cragwood Lodge, was started, but not finished. The lodge consisted of 8,000 square feet on the upper level and 11,000 square feet on the lower level. The vision of the developers was to arrange home sites around the lodge, but foreclosure took place in 1974.
Brunkow Hardwood Corporation purchased the property in the late 1980’s. In 1992 Brunkow sold the unfinished lodge and model home along with 80 acres to Youth With A Mission to be used as a retreat and training center. In the summer of 1996, Youth With A Mission made a decision to consolidate their training centers and move all their training to the main campus in Hawaii leading to the sale of this property.
In September 1996, a foundation from Minneapolis contacted Camp Forest Springs concerning the property. If Camp Forest Springs was interested, the foundation would purchase the property and transfer it to them. At the September 1996 board meeting, Camp Forest Springs’ Board of Directors voted to research the feasibility of accepting the property.
On November 9, 1996 Camp Forest Springs’ Board of Directors voted to accept the property as a gift from the foundation.
As work began on the property, the driveway right-of-way was cleared. The remodeling of the lodge required that all of the walls had to be reinsulated. Much of the wiring was replaced. Several walls needed to be moved and plumbing was modified to meet the requirements of the new kitchen design.
In 1999, a site was cleared and work was completed on the 40’ x 60’ maintenance building which included a heated floor, three overhead doors, and an office.
During the years of 2002 to 2006, the new entryway with indoor wheel chair ramp and heated floor was added to the front of the lodge. A new roof top heating/air conditioning unit was installed. Many of the static windows were replaced with casement windows to provide air movement. All interior and exterior doors were replaced. New flooring was installed, and heating/air conditioning ducts were added to all rooms. A recreation field also was cleared and planted with grass.
In September 2006, Oak Forest Center officially opened for daytime use. In order to provide overnight lodging for retreats, an adjoining hotel building was begun in fall of 2007. Eight of the sixteen rooms were completed in August of 2009. In September 2010, another eight guestrooms were opened as well as the lower level Great Room, game room, and adjoining breakout rooms. Since then, the snackshop, lower level bathrooms, exercise room, and hotel meeting room have also been completed.
In 2017 we completed construction to the volunteer/quiet retreat suite and in 2020 the auditorium which is now called Cedar Hall. The work has been mainly done by Oak Forest Center and Camp Forest Springs staff and many volunteers. To date Oak Forest Center has been able to maintain a debt free position.