25 Years of Family Camp



Are you spiritually moving in the right direction?

Family Camp offers the right blend of time away with family and friends, biblical teaching and recreation. Autumn Ridge Church partners with Fort Wilderness Ministries to create a week where you can get away with God, get to know others from Autumn Ridge, and do things you cannot or would not do at home. Fort Wilderness is located in Northeast Wisconsin near McNaughton and is surrounded by thousands of acres of state forests, many lakes and beautiful scenery.

Steering Straight

Let Autumn Ridge Church Family Camp help you Steer Straight this summer as we listen to biblical teaching from John, Gretchen, Andrew and Simon Steer.
About the Steer Family…

  • John Steer: our beloved Sr. Pastor for the past 28 years
  • Gretchen Steer: John’s wife, leader of the ARC Women’s Bible Study
  • Andrew Steer: Pastor John’s brother and President and CEO of the World Resources Institute, Andrew was educated at St Andrews University, Scotland, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cambridge University. He has a PhD in economics.
  • Simon Steer: Pastor John’s youngest brother. Simon was educated at York University, St. John’s College Oxford, and Jesus College Cambridge.  He has a Master of Divinity from Princeton and a PhD in New Testament from Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia.  He is the Chaplain of Abingdon School in Oxford, England.

This year be intentional about spiritually moving in the right direction. Steer Straight. We’ll see you at Fort!


Each day brings new opportunities for fun and adventure. There are water, horse and nature activities including Stand Up Paddleboards, sail boats, floating pads and a big waterslide. Horse rides and lessons are available. Nature classes, hiking, biking, and canoe and pontoon floats. Each morning there is a devotional teaching time with children’s programming provided. The activity areas are open in the late morning and afternoon with the beach/water activities being a highlight for some and riflery, archery, and skeet shooting for others. There is also an extensive nature program with a wide variety of classes offered each day. The horse program offers rides and lessons for all skill levels. Some enjoy the craft areas, doing wood working, leather working or beads. There are also trails in and near camp for hiking, road biking and mountain biking. Some just take a nice afternoon nap or enjoy an ice cream cone at the Canteen or a great cup of coffee at the CampGrounds.


Fort Wilderness provides housing options in various price ranges; from hotel/lodge like comfort to basic tent camping where you can prepare your own meals (but most prefer to enjoy the wonderful food Fort staff prepare.) Details on housing can be found by clicking on the button, below. Shoeders RV in nearby Rhinelander offers weekly camper (full size and popups) that you can either pick up and set up yourself or they will deliver and setup at your site before you arrive. Details on housing can be found by clicking on the button, below.


Food at Family Camp is one part tradition to two parts wholesomeness. Fort staff and many volunteers work hard to provide you with delicious homemade meals made with fresh produce from mostly Wisconsin farmers. The food is exceptional and camp staff accommodate most food restrictions – let them know ahead of time by contacting Janet Merkel (Food Service Manager) at 715-277-2587 x30 to discuss your particular needs.

The Campgrounds Coffee Shop offers campers quality coffee from a local roaster while other refreshing concoctions abound. Ice-cream from the Canteen makes a perfect afternoon treat or way to end your day.

Meal plans range from ‘all meals provided’ to ‘campsite only’ packages.


For more information about eating, sleeping and playing at Fort, take a virtual tour.


How do I sign up for camp?

You can sign up several ways: the fastest and easiest is to use the online registration form. If you prefer to use paper, you can get the form at ARC or download and print form. The paper form and deposit can either be sent in to Autumn Ridge Church, 3611 Salem Road SW, Rochester, MN 55902.

Why is it more expensive to sign up through ARC than through Fort Wilderness?

With the new package plan, the extra cost for the special breakfast and activity tickets are incorporated into the fee.

Where is Fort Wilderness?

About 15 miles north of Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It is about 250 miles from Rochester and takes about 5 hours to get there. To see in a map, click here.

How do people get to Fort Wilderness?

Because of the amount of gear people usually pack for the week, families usually travel alone or with another family. Taking a bus up has been investigated but not found to be practical with the amount of gear.

Is there scholarship money available?

There is a limited amount of scholarship money available. Contact Mark Foley (markkfoley@hotmail.com) for details.

What does it mean to share a cabin?

The cabins are designs to hold 10-14 people in bunk style bedding. Bathrooms in the cabins provide a lot of privacy (designed for retreats) and the rustic cabins use the main bathroom/shower facility. Some families opt to share the space and get a 15% discount. You can find a family to share with or mark on the registration form that you want to share and we will work with you to find a family that you can share with – you will not be forced to stay with anyone if you don’t want to.

What if I can only attend part of the week?

The week is packed with fun and activities but we understand that some people can’t get the full week off. Priority on housing will be given to those wanting to stay the full week but rates are prorated (with a 15% surcharge) if you can’t stay the full week. Some families have one family member who can’t be there the full week but the rest of the family stays the whole week – consider bringing two vehicles up if one has to leave early or come up late or contact us to see if there are others going back early or coming up late – there are usually a few people in both situations.

When do I pay for camp?

You pay a $250 registration deposit when you sign up. The balance of your payment is due July 22. You send or bring your check to Autumn Ridge Church. Details will be provided on your balance and how to pay in early July.

How do I pay for camp?

You put a $250 non-refundable deposit down at the time of signup using a credit card (with on-line registration) or by check if you use paper registration. You balance will be paid by check by July 22.

What do I bring to camp?

Details about what to bring will be sent closer to camp dates but generally a mix of clothing to handle temperatures in the 40s and 50s at night and 60s and 70s during the day, and expect some rain.

Can I bring guests with me?

You can bring guests with you to stay in your room (if they are another family, you can qualify for the share discount) or they can stay in other housing, if available. It is common for families to invite an extra child or two to join them for the week and the extra guests in your room can be added any time before payment is due by contacting ARC (507-288-8880) and letting us know.

When is the deadline for signing up?

There is no hard deadline for signing up, it is mainly an issue of running out of housing spaces in the desired type of housing you want. Often the Inn and Cabins fill by the end of March. We have only once had to cut off registration because we were going to exceed Fort’s capacity in the dining hall.

Can Fort accommodate my food allergies?

Fort kitchen staff sees a lot of food allergies and restrictions and can handle most of them. Please call Janet Merkel (Food Service Manager at Fort) at 715.277.2587 x30 to discuss your concerns so she can make sure to have enough of the right kinds of foods available.

Is it safe?

Fort continually strives to improve the safety of its programs and with many staff on site, they keep an eye on your family to help ensure your safety. While you are ultimately responsible for your family, there are many eyes watching and helping.

How young can kids be?

Families bring children as young as several months old to Fort but generally kids 2 and older benefit most from the Fort programs. High School and college age kids also enjoy camp and some students even come on their own to attend the week (if you are under 18, you need to have a family who is responsible for you at camp in case of emergencies).

How do I rent a camper?

If you would like to try out a camper, Fort Wilderness has built a relationship and negotiated a weekly price with a local RV dealer to rent out campers. Shoeders RV will deliver and hook up everything for you (if desired). Contact ShoedersMarine.com to get the details, let them know you are going to be at Fort Wilderness. Renting a camper is a less expensive way to attend with 5 people than staying in the Inn or Cabins.