Every stitch matters: Camp Knutson’s annual quilt auction is also one of its biggest fundraisers
Camp Knutson sits nestled in tall pines between Lower Whitefish and Big Trout lakes in Crosslake.
The camp, founded in 1953, partners with other organizations to host camps for youths and young adults with special needs. They include campers living with a variety of needs, including autism, heart disease, skin conditions, Down syndrome, burn survivors, HIV/AIDS and youths experiencing homelessness.
For the past 32 years, one of Camp Knutson’s biggest fundraisers has been its annual quilt auction. Proceeds from the auction support camperships that make camp possible for more children. Senior Camp Director Jared Griffin said benefit proceeds make up a significant portion of the camp’s annual budget, supporting the introduction of new adaptive programming activities and improved accessibility for campers.
The auction will be Aug. 10 at the camp.
“It promises a fun, family-friendly event with handcrafted quilts and refreshments,” camp officials stated in a news release.
“None of this would happen if it weren’t for the many hardworking hands of area quilters. Quilts are often made by women who are now over the age of 90! These lively, talented women are part of the backbone of this important fundraiser.”
This includes women like 96-year-old Florence Wodarz of Outing, who has been donating quilts to the auction for more than two decades. Wodarz picked up the craft of quilting shortly before retiring and developed a love for the creative challenge and versatility the process offers.
“You sit at your sewing machine, figure out what you’re going to do and let the rest of the world go by,” Wodarz said in a news release. “You can make a lot of different patterns by twisting the material around. You make mistakes, and all you have to do is rip the stitches and start again.”
Catherine Hendrickson of Sturgeon Lake, who turned 90 last year, hand quilts her work, making them even more valuable and unique.
“I like quilting; it fills my time well, and I’m happy to do it,” she said in the release. Sewing has been a part of Hendrickson’s life since she was a child, and she would frequently make quilts with her church quilting group for Lutheran World Relief, which would send them to people around the world. Each quilt can take two to three months to complete, but Hendrickson said she enjoys the process and the opportunity to support Camp Knutson with her craft. This year will mark the 29th year Hendrickson has donated her quilts to the Camp Knutson quilt auction.
Over the past few decades, quilters have donated a variety of quilts that can fetch as much as $1,500 apiece during bidding. These donations raised more than $64,000 in 2018 during an auction of 300 donated quilts. This record-breaking number of quilts was possible because of quilter donors like Wodarz and Hendrickson, camp officials said. Other talented women in their 90s who have donated quilts include Gloria Lund of Woodbury, Winnie B. of Redwood Falls, and women from the Ecumen Seasons Retirement Community in Maplewood.
Hendrickson said the camp is especially close to her heart. She has used a prosthetic for one of her legs since she was 25 and understands Camp Knutson’s impact on children with disabilities and medical needs as they discover new possibilities at camp.
“It’s lovely that they’ve been able to support so many children,” Hendrickson said. “It’s improved the lives of every single child who goes to that camp. Just think of all the things they find out they can do and be.”
The quilt auction draws about 300 people to Camp Knutson each year, offering the public an opportunity to visit the grounds and learn more about Camp Knutson’s work.
“I often tell the quilters every stitch matters,” said Griffin, senior camp director. “Each and every act of kindness that people do within our community makes a difference for the overall mission of helping support such wonderful kids.”
Those with questions about the quilt auction may contact Griffin at 218-543-4232.
If you go
What: Camp Knutson 33rd Annual Quilt Auction.
Where: Camp Knutson, 11148 Manhattan Pt. Boulevard, Crosslake.
When: Saturday, Aug. 10. Silent auction is 9:30-11:30 a.m. Live auction starts at noon.