In 1956, after thirty years of events held all over the state, the youth camping program of the Maine Conference found a home at Pilgrim Lodge in West Gardiner. For $35,000 the Congregational Christian Conference of Maine (now called The Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ) acquired 85 acres of the former Balbrook Lodge. A total of $95,000 was raised by churches, youth, fellowship groups and individuals from throughout the Maine Conference for the purchase and renovation of the camp. Two years later we purchased two islands just off the shore on Lake Cobbosseecontee for $600. With the purchase of Pilgrim Lodge we were able to expand our youth ministry to host full summers of programs for youth, adults, and the entire family.
In 1999 the Maine Conference purchased an adjacent 15 acres, two buildings and a right-of-way through the camp. This property was part of the original Balbrook Lodge. It is called the “JBJ property.” The owners named the property by taking the first initial of each of their three sons. By housing camp staff, the new property allowed us to use former staff cabins for program space. Absorbing the right-of-way protects our existing program.
Today Pilgrim Lodge has grown into a vibrant and vital ministry. Tens of thousands of young people and adults have been nurtured, inspired and renewed through its programs.