FigTree Header 10.14



Review all 2022 Benefit videos

To advertise in print or online
Click here
Share this article
Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:

Church summer camps introduce youth to mission mixed with fun

Several area church camp directors and managers recently shared their expectations for summer camps and reported on new developments at their facilities. Through the economic slowdown, camps are finding ways not only to keep their programs steady but also to expand them.

Lutherhaven Camp Spalding Twinlow Camp Ross Point Camp
Twin Lakes Friends Zephyr Lodge N-Sid-Sen Silver Lake Bible

‘Living Water’ is theme

Camp Cross, the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane’s camp since 1923, will help campers connect with God as stewards of creation, using its 2010 theme, “The Living Water.”

 For the second year, the camp on the western shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene prepared its facilities for summer with the help of a Gonzaga University student service organization.  Their weekend of service and community-building closed with a ceremonial tree planting.  Episcopal Bishop Jim Waggoner blessed the students, camp and new trees, as a sign of hope and symbol of the passion for stewardship of the environment, said Maureen Cosgrove, executive director of the camp.

 A Canadian community service youth group will come for several days in July to help with environmental initiatives, maintenance and facilities tasks.

“We are continuing to develop a program of forest management and do future visioning about how best to use our gifts of the natural resource of this land,” she said.

Maureen also commented on connecting with camps in the area, and looks forward to ongoing collaboration among them—such as hosting one-night stopovers for Lutherhaven’s sailing camp and Sweyolaken’s canoe camp.  Camp Cross has used Lutherhaven’s high ropes course for team-building in the past.

For information, call 624-3191 or visit

Camp is holding steady

LutherHaven Sailors
Luther Haven sailing camps travel around Lake Coeur d'Alene

Bob Baker at Lutherhaven said the season is “business as usual” as the area emerges from the recession.  While camper numbers have been soft nationwide, “we are holding steady compared to last year,” he said.

Lutherhaven just bought Shoshone Base Camp on the Idaho-Montana border from the U.S. Forest Service, a purchase that required two acts of Congress.  It has used the site for 11 years under a special user permit.

High school students use the camp as a base while doing service projects around the Silver Valley through Luthernaven’s Idaho Servant Adventures.  About 1,500 students have participated the last three summers, giving more than 17,000 hours of volunteer work building Habitat for Humanity houses, fixing porches, painting, cleaning garages and doing other maintenance tasks for needy families and older adults. 

Lutherhaven has completed a $750,000 remodel of their chapel that now seats 320 at its site on the western shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.  It also renovated a cabin and added recreation options with grants and donations by individuals and congregations.

For the fourth year, 12 junior high students from Taiwan will join the junior high camp.

“Some speak English and some don’t,” Bob said.  “Regardless, the youth develop great relationships and gain a global sense of the body of Christ beyond Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.”

For 12 years, Lutherhaven has drawn campers from 14 states and a variety of churches, he said.  Some come as groups with their own leaders.

Lutherhaven has space for 225 campers and Shoshone for 130.  It also conducts off-site adventures like sailing camps on three 26-foot sailboats, white-water rafting and bicycling on the Hiawatha rails-to-trails above Wallace, Idaho.  For information, call 208-667-3459 or visit lutherhaven,com.

Camps adapt to changes

Now in his 20th year as executive director of Camp Spalding and Clearwater Lodge near Newport, Andy Sonneland said camping in the region and nation is changing.

“We seek new ways to broaden our reach to families and churches that have not heard of us, while remaining true to our calling,” he said, adding that he is using social media to reach beyond the 50 churches in the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, which the camp has traditionally served.

“Camps that are adapting to cultural changes are doing well, welcoming and being accessible to more people without changing our message,” he said.

For summer 2010, Camp Spalding is emphasizing its Pioneer Camp outpost camp, half a mile from the main camp.  It hosts 24 children or youth in age-group camps each week, in contrast to 180 at the resident camps.  Pioneer campers use the same swimming area, but at different times, and have food trucked in from the kitchen.

It appeals to children and youth who like camping, roughing it and small groups.

“We have offered pioneer camps since the 1970s,” he said.

This year, they have added new games appropriate to the setting and a ropes course element, which are important to keeping the experience fresh for returnees.

With a grant from the Murdock Charitable Trust, Camp Spalding hired Kristi Burns, former vice president at Whitworth University as director of development to build relationships and share the camp story in ways that broaden the support for operations and the annual fund among more friends of the ministry. 

For information call 509-447-4388 or visit

‘Grand Camp’ offered

Twinlow Camp and Retreat Center operated by the United Methodist Church on Lower Twin Lake near Rathdrum, is extending its day camp program from nine to 12 weeks, building its annual giving fund and remodeling Pinecrest House, a 1915 structure on the lake for family and small group retreats.  The remodeling will be done by June.  The building is available for weekly rental.

August 20 to 22 will be a weekend “Grand Camp” for grandparents and grandchildren to bond and make life-long memories while sharing in traditional camp activities, reported Brian White, director. 

For information, call 208-687-1146 or visit

Camp ‘pulls info together’

John Batchelder, director at Ross Point Camp on the Spokane River at Post Falls, said the 2010 theme is “Putting the Pieces Together,” with the aim of helping children, youth and families who know many scattered bits and verses about God and Jesus pull that information together.

Youth camps have about 70 participants and family camps, about 200 for each of two weeks.

John said Ross Point, which is owned and operated by the American Baptist Churches of the Northwest has offered family camps for 30 years.

“We primarily serve our denomination, but as a small denomination, we welcome other groups, serving as caretakers of this amazing piece of property God has given us,” he said.

Ross Point provides hospitality services and staff supervision for activities for other groups who come and do their own programs. 

The American Baptists sponsor five weeks of camps, and other groups use the camp the other six weeks. 

For information, call 208-773-1655 or visit

Camp serves own, others

Eric Woods, manager of Twin Lakes Friends Camp, said Friends churches in Hayden Lake, Post Falls and Spokane plan day camp for young children, and four other camps for different age groups for children and youth from many denominations.

“We have low prices, giving children who would otherwise not be able to go to a camp the opportunity for a camp experience.  Of our campers, 22 percent are on scholarships,” he said.

Each camp draws 48 children.

Other summer weeks, the camp is available for other churches to use for retreats or camps.

Eric, who is in his second year as manager, said he grew up going to camp there and was a counselor many years.  Camp was where he came to know Christ in a setting in nature, away from the rat race.

He is at the camp full-time in the summer and works the rest of the year as a carpenter, living at the camp.

For information, call 208-687-1026 or visit

Camp provides hospitality

Nico McClellan, manager of Zephyr Christian Conference Grounds for the Northwest Region of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, said the regional office is in charge of programs and volunteer staff for two weeks of camps—one for grade school children and one for junior and senior high youth—on the grounds during the summer.

Campers swim and canoe, and have space for play fields, campfires, volleyball, outdoor meeting and chapel.

Many of the other summer weeks at this camp on Liberty Lake are already booked by family reunions and other groups. 

Year round, different denominations, business groups and churches book it for seminars, retreats, conferences and meetings.

Owned and operated by the Disciples  Church since 1946, the camp includes the historic Zephyr Inn, built in 1902.  It accommodates 90 people in its meeting and dining room, and sleeps 48.  Lakeview Lodge, built in 1982 and several cabins house an additional 90 people. 

For information, call 255-6122 or visit

Camp leaders are models

The theme for the National Council of Churches outdoor ministries curriculum used at N-Sid-Sen is “Be a Hero:  Live Like Jesus,” said Randy Crowe, managing director of the Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ camp on the East shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

n-sid-sen band
At N-Sid-Sen, musicians wade in the water so campers benefit from acoustics and join in singing.

The model of heroes, he commented, are the volunteer directors and counselors who plan programs for each camp.

“The message is that we model with our lives to teach the children and youth to model with their lives, to take the teachings of faith and understandings of Jesus into today’s world,” he said.

The curriculum encourages campers to reflect on current situations in their lives and people in the news.  Resources include biographies of people like Rosa Parks and information on the situations in Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and looking for models of Jesus in the contemporary context.

Randy said it shows the children and youth that “it’s not a dead, old Bible,” but connects with what happens today.

Family camps, he said, continue to be strong, as a way for families to recreate in a church setting.

“We remind churches that we are an extension of their Christian education programs,” he said.

N-Sid-Sen, which will celebrate its 75th anniversary Labor Day weekend, added a new lodge last year, and values it as a place for worship and gathering in inclement weather.  It’s been used for some weddings, for folk dancing, quilting and retreat activities.

A highlight of last summer, he said, was a band ensemble with four counselors and four campers who accompanied singing for the senior high aqua camp’s campfires.  The first evening they waded knee-deep in the water, and played, “Wade in the Water.” 

Counselor-guitarist Duane Nightingale of Veradale United Church of Christ explained that “water is a perfect, reflective acoustic surface.  At campfires, we want campers to participate in singing.  They are more likely to sing if accompaniment is loud, so they don’t fear they will stand out if they sing off key.

“The accepting nature of a camp community forgives if a camp musician or singer plays or sings off key,” he said, suggesting it gave him confidence to sing.  “I want to involve everyone so they have fun.  Music is a key element of community building.”

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit

‘It’s about changed lives’

Silver Lake Bible Camp, in its 48th year near Medical Lake, rents its facilities for summer camps from June 17 to Aug. 30. 

The camps are organized by the Northwest District of the Assemblies of God, the Foursquare Church in the region, and a coalition of Community Churches.

Open year round, the 425 beds  in hotel rooms, cabin suites and basic cabins are available for retreats for adults, schools, churches and nonprofits, said Terry Andrews, manager for five years. 

The camp provides staff who prepare meals, clean, lifeguard and run the zipline and giant swing.  Churches provide their own program content.

“It’s about changed lives—children and youth making a decision for Jesus, rededicating their lives or deciding to go into ministry,” said Terry who previously was youth pastor at Spokane First Assembly of God and brought youth to the camp.

For information, call 299-3721 or visit


These are just a few of camps in the region.  For more information, visit


Copyright © June 2010 - The Fig Tree