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Camp adventure establishes spirit of being at home

Mark Boyd, managing director of N-Sid-Sen, said at the start of his first summer that he was just starting on an adventure.

“It has been an adventure, a gift watching groups come in with excitement and make a connection, feeling that camp is their home,” he said.  “While they are here, it is their home.

Tie Dye shirts

Idaly Hernandez of Shalom UCC Richland hangs out tie dye shirts in intermediate camp at N-Sid-Sen. Photo courtesy of Mark Boyd

“People come and relax,” he said, noting that helped him relax, knowing the campers were comfortable there.

Participants in one camp told him that the closer they came to coming to camp, the lighter they felt, knowing that when they were at camp they could just be.

“Many campers see the sacredness of this space, where they can come and just be themselves, be with God and be with a group talking about God,” Mark said.

He found many ways the camp is part of people’s faith.

“People find inspiration here.  Whatever struggles they come with, the camp and directors help create an environment of inspiration,” Mark said.

“We are blessed to have all volunteers here,” he said. 

Staff for the camps—kids, intermediate, junior high, senior high and family camps—are all volunteers, a total of 40 directors and counselors come to support campers.

2013 N-Sid-Sen
camp schedule

Junior & Senior High
Midwinter Retreat

March 8-10
Women’s Retreat
May 3-5
Leadership Retreat
May 17-19

Work Camp
June 17-22
Young Adult Camp
June 21-23
Intermediate Camp
July 7-13
Kid’s Camp
July 7 10
Senior High Aqua Camp
July 14-20
Family Camp #1
July 28 to Aug. 3
Junior High Aqua Camp
Aug. 4-10
Family Camp #2
Aug. 11-17

For information,
call 208-689-3489
or visit

Camps would not come together without volunteers giving time and talents, he said.

Local churches also come for retreats and camps, connecting and also feeling they are coming home.

Campers ask to have a service project to help improve the camp, something relevant so they can say, “I did that.”

He and his wife, Julie, were concerned that, with church being far away and summers being busy, he would miss attending a church.  They soon found that they joined in the worship experiences of the camp.

“It was great to feel I could go to church here,” he said.

In the rest of the year, he intends to travel to churches in the area to share about camp.

“When I first came here and looked at the lake, I thought, ‘Wow! Thank you God for all falling into place.’  Julie now has a job down the road teaching at the school in Harrison,” he said.

When someone asked if there were surprises, he said the adventure is in meeting people in different ways.

“God has a piece in all I have done in my life, and this brings together my background in business, the wholesale industry, plumbing, youth work and at Pilgrim Firs,” Mark said.  “I needed each of the skills to work with youth and adults.”

He is grateful Mary Japenga stayed as cook for a transition time after Randy Crowe retired.  Crowe was available to show him things and allow him to discover things about the camp on his own.

He has enjoyed meeting people in Harrison and finds it new for him to be part of a small community.  He plans to host banquets through the year to gather people from the community to get acquainted.

Mark is impressed how the volunteer leaders give up time to give the campers an opportunity to discover their own faith and be open to the questions of faith and life.

This 2012 summer camp theme, “Secrets of the Kingdom: The Parables of Jesus,” led many to use drama. 

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit


Campers dive into water and parables

John Hubbe, who has directed camps for many years at N-Sid-Sen, has seen some of children and youth over and over.

jumping into the lake

Camper takes a leap into the lake during swimming.

He and Dana Sprenkle have co-directed N-Sid-Sen’s Junior High Aqua Camp for several summers.

In addition, Irene Willis, also from Shalom UCC in Richland, helped for her third year as camp chaplain, organizing morning watch, involving youth in readings and skits, and facilitating discussion groups.

John said they tweaked the theme, “Secrets of the Kingdom: The Parables of Jesus” to “Treasures of the Spirit.”

“We did not want to convey that the parables were about secrecy, but about something special,” he said. “I liked sharing the parables, which show that Jesus spoke to people using stories and elements of their times.

Cooperative Game

Campers learn cooperation skills .

“The word, ‘kingdom,’ meant something different then than today. It was about the power structures of the time, when kings had power over common people,” he said.

Campers acted out some of the parables.

“Our junior high aqua camp has many built-in traditions, such as spending all afternoon in the water and craft room,” said John.

“These activities build a wonderful community. Campers enjoyed each other. We try to give program content to enhance their experience with meaningful content," he said.

Swamping a canoe

Campers swamp a canoe in water activities. Photos courtesy of John Hubbe

“Co-directing the junior high aqua camp is one of the best ways I can give back. I want to give the youth something. The camps are valuable,” he said. “I want to keep them going and I encourage counselors to think of becoming directors.

“N-Sid-Sen is one of my homes,” John added, “sitting on the edge of the wild world.”


Copyright © December 2012 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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