My grandfather built a cottage on Otter Tail Lake, as did many of his fellow Norwegian Lutheran pastors. My mother got first dibs for succession as the eldest child.

My parents opened a variety store in nearby Battle Lake, Minn., 15 miles away — we could live at the lake all summer and commute to town. Wonderful childhood memories were made there. We moved to California, and they sold it in 1960. I never dreamed I would return in 1966 with my husband to Minnesota for seminary and settle in St Paul. Missing a lake, we bought property in Otter Tail County and for years camped with a tent and pop-up trailer with our children and friends.

Seeking comfort and convenience as we aged, we found a cabin in progress in Pine County in the mid-90s. We could influence the design and watch the build. The lake is small and quiet, big enough for one speedboat/Jet Ski at a time. Most residents have canoes, fishing boats, pontoons or paddleboats. Our camping kids now have their own kids who love the freedom of the cabin, where screentime is limited but the outdoors is not. Family time, boating, swimming, campfires, ATVs, swings, hikes, crafts, games all equate to great bonding and memories.

The friends we camped with built their retirement home next door, so we share a dock and a pontoon, our screen house, and their sauna. We each also bought a nearby acre for offseason storage, a mini tree farm, a treehouse, bluebird houses, a firepit, and a destination for nature hikes. Our acre held a simple hunting shack, which we lined with knotty pine and made into a charming Norwegian stuga, a sleeping cabin for extra guests.

My sweet childhood memories live on.

Pam Dragseth, St. Paul