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Numbers at camps were up slightly in 2014

Camps seek to build pool of people willing and trained to be counselors.

water frisbee

Given the heat this summer, senior high aqua campers at N-Sid-Sen spent much of their time in the water.  Tucker Jacobs plays water frisbee.            Photos courtesy of Max Aquino

Summer days were hot so campers at N-Sid-Sen spent much of their weeks in the water, said Mark Boyd, managing director.

As a result, at junior high aqua camp, more of the campers got up on water skis than in previous summers.

“The numbers at camp were up slightly, but we still have room to grow,” he added. “Family Camp I, however, was filled and had a waiting list.”

With Western Regional Youth Event, many of the regular counselors gave their time there, so camps had more new counselors.

water skier

Rys McKinstry water skis at N-Sid-Sen.

“We are looking to build our pool of counselors,” said Mark, inviting interested people to let him know of their interest.

“For the 2014 camping season, leaders and counselors saw a video on sexual abuse awareness.  We will continue to do that for every counselor,” he said.  “It’s a good reminder of what they need to pay attention to and what to report.”

One activity that impressed Mark during senior high aqua camp was when counselor Sheila Thieme made an affirmation teepee. She took a large piece of fabric and had campers write words on it about people they value, admire, trust and love in the camp community. 

affirmation teepee

Sheila Thieme and senior high camper Briella Gates set up affirmation teepee.

“Campers couldn’t tell what age, race or gender the people was.  Words they used were ‘trustworthy, caring, brave.’ We wrapped that fabric around teepee poles near the campfire and put a light inside,” Sheila said.

“Campers then wrote in black ink on black paper words people used to describe them,” Sheila said.  “We taped them over the other words. After the exercise, campers removed the words on black paper and tossed them in the campfire, leaving the lit-up teepee glowing with the important words.  It was by the campfire all week.”

“One camper said the black paper and words did not cover up the positive words, which shown in the light,” Mark said.  Junior high camp did the exercise, too.

Mark started three activities: 

• He invited clergy of the churches campers attend to come to lunch the day before camp ended.  They ate with campers from their church.

David Krueger-Duncan of Cheney UCC, Judith Rinehart-Nelson of Ritzville and a United Methodist pastor came.

canoe race

Sunset canoe race in the cove.

“It’s a way pastors can see the camp, gain a sense of the experience and get to know the children and youth,” Mark said.

• He invited campers to plan to bring money for offerings to use for camp scholarships so people they know might come another year.  They raised $1,500.

“Let’s use it to bring new campers here,” he said.

During Family Camp, Mark saw that some trees were rotted.  A camper, Evan Bombardier, is an arborist and had brought his equipment.  He brought down five trees by the chapel.

sinking canoes

Campers sink canoes in a sunset activity in the cove.

This year’s full-time staff were the lifeguard, a second cook and four others, including two young women from Poland who came through a program called Camp America.

“They came expecting to eat corn dogs and pizza.  They helped people understand that Poland is now a modern nation, not impoverished.  One is studying theology and the other attends seminary.  They learned of the different expectations of what women who study theology in the U.S. can do.  Poland is predominantly Catholic, so she was amazed to learn women can be pastors in the United Church of Christ.

An evening at Family Camp 2, the Polish women cooked Pirrhogies and a Polish crepe, said Mark, adding that overall “we improved our food choices for people on vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free diets.”

sunset dance

Two girls are silhouetted by a sunset.

Tony Kliment, co-director of senior high camp, has been part of a counseling team at camp for 10 years.  He is impressed how youth may at first be quiet or not know anyone, but in a week form friendships that last for years, and towards the end of camp do an amazing song-and-dance routine for the talent show.

“At camp, the kids can be who they are or are becoming, with acceptance, not judgment,” he said.  “They also gain a sense there is something bigger to life, something more than themselves, more than the plugged-in world.  In nature at morning watch or in small groups through the week, they hear messages and talk about their feelings and about God.”

The irony of the relationships they build at camp being unplugged, is that campers plug in at home to keep up with new camp friends through social media, Tony noted.

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit


Copyright October 2014 © Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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