Our Mission and Vision

We serve people with outdoor experiences that promote life change and maturity. Coldwater Foundation is a faith and leadership development organization committed to the practice of experiential discipleship. We are committed to building a culture of young people equipped, empowered, and inspired to live a gospel-centered life serving God and serving others.

Our Approach

People learn through experience. Responsibility is the great developer of people! Our goal is to help each student to engage in learning that is as close as possible to their personal experiences: These include group problem solving, being the group leader for a day, interpersonal experiences with other members of an expedition, or facing technical challenges such as scouting a set of rapids, map/compass navigation and preparation of meals.  Experiences broaden the landscape for student learning and at Coldwater there are lots of them!

Our Instructors

Over and over we have been told how our leaders have made an impact on a person because they cared, or listened or gently challenged a decision, encouraged or expected initiative. The young men and women who we equip to be leaders are guides for life. They are often the best part of a Coldwater experience. They too are on a life journey, and they want their part to count and so they are eager to serve you on yours.
We are really looking forward to introducing you to them!

Our Staff

Kevin & Jen Sutton | Co-Founders
kevin@coldwaterfoundation.org, jen@coldwaterfoundation.org
Kevin and Jen have long been the heart of Coldwater Foundation. They lead our team with a calling and endurance for helping people meet Christ in the wilderness classroom. As our executive director, Kevin is reliable and present in the lives around him. He mentors and challenges others to see God’s involvement in their lives and to listen to God’s voice. Kevin helps students see their own skills and abilities, then creates space for them to do those things! Jen serves others with faithfulness and efficiency. She keeps our business on track and helps our abstract dreams become reality. Jen is the reason we get anything done around here! The next time you see the Suttons, ask them how Coldwater got its beginnings.

Eliza Kelly | Administrative Assistant, Program Manager, Wilderness Instructor
Eliza embraces life with unparalleled energy and enthusiasm! She is an anchor for Coldwater communication. Eliza can be found sending emails to students and parents, editing newsletters, mailing merchandise, running (literally) around camp getting people ready for wilderness adventures. She greets visitors who wander into camp, does dishes, plans programs, works on summer scheduling, and leaps over tall buildings in a single bound. Eliza serves people with an infectious joy, and finds tangible ways to love all who come her way. Her love for God is displayed in how she loves and fights for others not only within the Coldwater ministry but wherever she is.

Jonathan Head | Marketing and Media Coordinator, Wilderness Instructor
Jon is a storyteller at heart and brings a skillful blend of media capability and storytelling to share what it feels like to be at Coldwater. With photos, video, and freshly designed merch and promotional materials, he is helping to invite people into the Coldwater story with the eye of an artist and the ear of a musician. Jon is fun-loving, has many interests and will always be on your side. Centered on Christ, Jon is eager to spread God’s Word in an ever-changing world. Next time you see Jon, ask him for some fishing tips. He’ll love you for it!

Erik Aleckson | Program Specialist, Wilderness Instructor
Erik joined the Coldwater team in 2021 as Programming Specialist and Wilderness Instructor. Erik has years of experience serving and teaching youth in various ministry contexts. He is a trained Coldwater instructor and has been leading trips for us since 2012. We are so excited for him to join our team in a full-time capacity. Erik is a joy to work with and serves with integrity and maturity. He is a capable leader and his passion for the gospel is inspiring. We’re thrilled to welcome Erik, Rebekah, and new baby Ezra to our growing Coldwater family!

Weston Martin | Facilities and Grounds Manager
Weston joined our team at the beginning of 2023 as our Facilities and Grounds Manager. His responsibilities are to maintain and care for our property, buildings and vehicles at our basecamp, Mink Lake Wilderness Camp and oversee new facility projects. This physical and creative work presents a unique opportunity for Weston to build relationships and mentor young leaders in skills and in faith as he leads students, staff and volunteer teams on site. Weston and Jessica are capable and passionate people who are very well suited to this ministry. We are confident that they will serve the Coldwater mission with integrity and strengthen the effectiveness of our ministry!

Mink Lake Wilderness Camp // Our Base Camp

Mink Lake is our home place and our center for outdoor leadership. Located in the heart of the Superior National Forest and strategically situated nearby several entry points for the unparalleled Boundary Waters Wilderness and Canoe Area. Even in our back yard are tremendous opportunities for mountain biking, backpacking and cross-country skiing.    



Mink Lake is a simple and beautiful camp with a long, rich history of inviting people to enjoy the solitude and power of wilderness.  Many life-changing retreats have happened here but the heart of Mink Lake is as a base camp for a wilderness adventure.  Mink’s historic lodge, heated log cabins, camp sauna and high ropes course are the perfect base camp for a wilderness tripping ministry and a great place to come back to.   

Who We’ve Served

Coldwater Foundation is proud to have several partnerships with across regions and borders.