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Camps build leadership, connect faith to life, and serve nearby communities


Twinlow Camp starts season with a new camp director

Twinlow camp swimming
Middle-school girls enjoy water sports at Twinlow

Twinlow’s new camp director Tyler Wagner said the United Methodist camp on Twin Lakes in North Idaho will follow what has worked over Twinlow’s 86-year history “as we make the camp relevant to campers.”

“To be relevant, we must meet youth where they are, keeping in mind that opportunities for children and families are endless,” he said.  “We need to keep Twinlow at the top of their list as a place to grow in faith, especially as the word, ‘camp,’ becomes diluted in its use by schools, music stores, child care and other programs. 

“Traditional camp models are still significant, because children lack outdoor and community-building experiences,” he said.  “We need to unplug them.  As people are more plugged in, sitting in front of screens, society is more disconnected. 

“We need places like this to retreat from the busyness of the world,” he said, mentioning questions camps are considering:  “Do children know how to live without a screen?  Are they able to talk with each other?  Do we bring video games and computers to camp to draw people?  Does it serve our mission?”

Twinlow allows no cell phones or screens.

Tyler, who is from a Lutheran camp background in Oregon and California, grew up in Colorado and worked three seasons in outdoor education and as seasonal program director at Lutherhaven.

His bachelor’s degree in 2001 from Fort Lewis College and master’s degree this spring from Marylhurst University in Portland in business.

“I tried to leave camping, but God dragged me back,” he said.  “Camp is the most exciting part of church.  In today’s world, churches need connection and excitement, not just for children and youth, but for any age.”

In the summer, United Methodists have their weeks of camp, along with camps of partnership groups like the American Diabetes Association and Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Day camps expand reach

Tyler seeks both to draw more people to Twinlow and to take a Twinlow camp experience to churches for community-based day camps.  Resident camp programs run June 26 to Aug. 13.  Day camps, which take place all summer, include a pick up in Coeur d’Alene and a day-camp week July 11 to 15 at Community United Methodist Church in Coeur d’Alene.

The Pacific Northwest Cross Connection high-school camp draws youth groups to come and go from the site daily to nearby communities where they do lawn work or repairs for people referred by community organizations.

For information, call 208-687-1146, email or visit

Got Spirit: Finding God in the Everyday’ is theme of NCC curriculum

N-Sid-Sen tubing
Tubing in Lake Coeur d'Alene at N-Sid-Sen

Randy Crowe, managing director of N-Sid-Sen on the east shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, considers the theme for the National Council of Churches’ 2011 camp curriculum, “Got Spirit: Finding God in the Everyday” apropos for children, youth and adults in today’s culture.

Other camps using that curriculum this summer are Zephyr and Ross Point.

In recruiting and training volunteer directors and counselors, he said there is more need to realize faith is relevant in everyday life to “reinforce that God is with us, is in our communities and is in creation,” he said.

“Given corporate interests promoting denial of climate change, we need to look at the environment and our responsibility to each other and to God,” he said. 

“It’s also important to be aware of God in the everyday in terms of caring for ‘the least’ in these times of budget cuts, so those in most need will not be forgotten.  We need to teach children to adults to find God wherever we are, to see God with us all the time,” he said.

As campers gain that understanding, he hopes they will go home and do what they can in their communities.

Like other camps, Randy said that N-Sid-Sen summer church camps draw many in the camp’s sponsoring United Church of Christ churches, friends of children and youth in churches, and children whose parents want their children in a progressive summer camp that will help them think.

As of mid-May, he reported that as usual some camps that are popular—the teen aqua camps—fill up quickly, and others are traditionally last-minute registrations.

For Randy, the 2011 summer camp season is his 21st and last as managing director of N-Sid-Sen.  He retires in April 2012.

For information, call 208-689-3489, email or visit

Age groups share Zephyr Christian Conference Center

Nico McClellan, manager of Zephyr Christian Conference Center at Liberty Lake, expects full Disciples of Christ children and youth camps this summer.

Amber Saladino of the Northwest Regional Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said the region combines younger and older elementary children one week and junior and senior high another week.  Each age group has separate, concurrent programs using the National Council of Churches (NCC) curriculum.

She said a decline in camping has accompanied the decline of youth in churches, so the region is exploring other models and formats for camps, and is connecting with other denominations.

Nico said lodge improvements will be completed before denominational camps.  The facility is also used for family reunions, retreats, church camps, scrapbookers and other groups in the area.

For information, call 255-6122 or email or visit

Ross Point and Camp Good Times share facilities

Ross Point, the American Baptist camp on the Spokane River at Post Falls, is planning three weeks of youth camps and two weeks of family camps, along with rental by Camp Good Times, the American Cancer Society camp for children with cancer.

While the American Baptist Churches of the Northwest owns the camp, Marta Walker, administrative assistant, said the camp encourages church youth to invite friends.

American Baptists are offering three gift certificates to each church to invite neighborhood children to come for a free week.

“Many churches use it,” she said.  “Once children come to camp, they return year after year.

“We encourage children, youth and families to develop a relationship with God,” Marta added.  “A study several years ago showed that 65 percent of children who go to camp have a significant experience with God and often become our future leaders.”

Ross Point High Ropes Course
Ross Point adds to its high-ropes course challenges

High ropes build trust

Each year, Ross Point has added to its high ropes course, which, she said, is a draw for youth 12 years and older.  There are now 20 elements in the ropes course to help with personal growth, trust development and team building.

“It challenges youth and adults to stretch as they are out of their comfort zone in trees 15 to 20 feet off the ground.  Along with learning to trust each other and themselves, campers learn to trust God.”

Fay Batchelder, wife of the camp manager and director John Batchelder, is a trained high ropes course facilitator. 

“We add new elements to keep campers’ interest as they accomplish tasks,” Marta said.

For information, call 208-773-1655, email or visit

Popular camps, wuch as water sports camps, fill quickly

Richard Parker, administrative director of the Seventh-Day Adventist Camp MiVoden, said youth camps were filling up ahead of last year.

In addition to regular recreation activities at camp—swimming, horseback riding, high ropes, water skiing and wakeboarding—and along with Bible studies and discussions, MiVoden offers some specialty camps.

For the third year, four to seven 15-to-18-year-old youth participate in the Mission Aviation camp, which offers ground school, some flight time, their own log book, training from a certified flight instructor, and field trips to a control tower, the Aviation Museum and Quest Aviation, which builds planes for the mission field. 

“This camp can open minds of campers about options and opportunities,” Richard said.  “One of the first students, over four years, has reached halfway to his commercial license.”

MiVoden’s Extreme Camp takes 12 youth aged 11 to 16 to Clark Fork and Alberton Gorge for whitewater rafting; to Post Falls for rock climbing, and to Silver Mountain for mountain biking.

He estimates that 50- to 70-percent of campers each summer are Seventh Day Adventist.  The rest are friends and community members.

For information, call 208-772-3484, email or visit

Sorrento Centre in British Columbia draws musicians

In British Columbia, Sorrento Centre offers an Anglican-tradition and ecumenical conference and retreat center with summer programs and a new Sabbatical Centre.

For the second year, organizers of the Sorrento Bluegrass Festival on Aug. 27, expect to draw 1,000 people between two weeklong bluegrass camps for 250 participants.  The 11th annual British Columbia Swing (jazz) Camp is in mid-August. 

These multi-age camps are the busiest of the year, said Christopher Lind, executive director.

“They draw people from all walks of life to the genre,” he said.  “They sing gospel in the context of bluegrass, but don’t assume it’s Christian.  Organizers include people of Jewish and Taoist faiths.

“Campers come to do music from 9 a.m. to midnight,” he said. “The camps are instructional and include performances.” 

Sorrento Centre has offered the bluegrass camp for 20 years and the swing jazz camp, 10 years. 

Last year, when some suggested having a worship experience, one woman said she would not come to worship because she did not believe in God.  Chris, a theologian and former seminary president, took her to lunch and learned that the concept of God she rejects is “an old guy upstairs who decided who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.”  She was surprised to learn Chris did not believe in that God either.

While theology is not the central focus of the music gatherings, it drives many other summer offerings, which include programs in June on ecojustice and moral economy, White Drum Mesa teachings and the spiritual legacy of Duke Ellington. 

“Five Weeks of Summer” programs include a rabbi’s session on wrestling with sacred texts, nature photography, leadership training, gospel song, L’Arche, the Aramaic Lord’s Prayer, creative prayers, dance and art, sibling rivalry in the Bible, Celtic spirituality, justice in the world and more.

For information, call 250-675-2421 or visit

Art center plans concert

The Grunewald Guild on the Wenatchee River north of Leavenworth is also planning a concert as the culmination of its music week.  It will be held at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 30, at the Icicle Creek Music Center in Leavenworth.

Four artists who are music instructors for the music week will perform.

Dan Oberg, director, said the guild serves as a bridge between faith communities and working artists, dispelling the fears and suspicions each sometimes has of the other.

“We encourage faith and artistic communities to converse and see that they need each other,” he said.  “They are an essential mix.”

He pointed out that participants in programs learn how art is enhanced by faith and how faith can be expressed in art, as they work side-by-side in a faith community.

Given the economy, the Grunewald Guild is looking at its programs and the traditional weeklong duration as people have less time and money.  Dan is also nurturing partnerships with colleges and seminaries on art and faith studies to provide space to experience education while living in community. 

For information, call 763-3693, email or visit

Church groups coming to Campbell Farm serve in community

Campbell Farm, a program of the Central Washington Presbytery at Wapato, still has openings from July 17 to Aug. 20 for church groups to come to do mission outreach projects on or near the Yakama Reservation.

This year, some camps are helping rebuild homes destroyed by fire that swept through White Swan in February.

Youth and adult groups come through the summer and stay at Campbell Farm, going out each day to lead vacation Bible school programs for children, and work with Volunteer Chore Services, food banks, gleaning or children’s programs.

Groups are coming from North Carolina, Colorado, California, Oregon and Washington, said Carman Pims, director.

“I arrange with local programs for the campers to do projects,” she said.  “The economy has hit charitable giving and mission projects, so they need much help.”

For information, call 509-877-6413 or visit

Volunteers learn and serve through Yakama Christian Mission

Yakama Christian Mission day camp
Yakama Christian Mission keeps children busy in day camp.

In White Swan at the Yakima Christian Mission, directors David Bell and Jill Delaney provide June through August “Learning and Serving” opportunities for all ages to learn about anti-racism, culture and economic justice, and to do service projects.  Mornings are for workshops and afternoons for service projects such as at Noah’s Ark, a homeless shelter; RicOrganics, a farm workers cooperative, and rebuilding or repairing six houses destroyed and 40 houses damaged in fires during February.

“Volunteers for the learning and serving camps are up from previous years, because of word of mouth about how we tie the workshops and service,” said Dave, who expected numbers might be low because of youth participation in the national Disciples of Christ General Assembly and United Church of Christ General Synod. 

Groups from those denominations are about 60 percent of campers, along with groups that come from Episcopal, United Methodist and Presbyterian churches.

For information, call 509-874-2824, email or visit