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Managing director and cook transitions occur at N-Sid-Sen

At his retirement party and at Annual Meeting, Randy Crowe shared an overview of his camp ministry at N-Sid-Sen as he passed on tools to the new managing director Mark Boyd. 

camp staff change
Retired camp director Randy Crowe and retired cook Mary Japenga, left, visit with camp director Mark Boyd and cook Coby Woodruff at N-Sid-Sen at Japenga’s farewell party.

Boyd was previously on the staff at the Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ’s Western Washington camp, Pilgrim Firs.  He was also youth minister at Olympia United Churches.

Camp and conference center managers at N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs combine the roles of executive directors amd managing directors responsible for maintenance, administration and ministry.

As Crowe retired after 22 years as managing director of N-Sid-Sen, the United Church of Christ Camp and Conference Center on the eastern shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, there were opportunities to review the scope of what it takes to keep a camp going.

The Rev. Linda Crowe, Randy’s wife and now retired pastor from Veradale UCC, has been active in outdoor ministries.  She summed up the camp ministry as one of maintenance, management, interruptions, relationships and hospitality.

Tasks include installing light fixtures, changing light bulbs, and hammering nails for building and roofing projects.  There is also  need to be open to interruptions for crises and to take time with campers and camp staff.

Each element is part of a camp’s overall ministry as a welcoming place for people coming to be nurtured in faith, life and recreation.

Tools Crowe passed on to Boyd include a songbook, a Bible and a book of prayers, because “people will expect you to be a theologian.”  Then came the tools for physical work—a drill, light bulb, hammer and full tool bucket for the camp handyman side of his role.

Ryan Lambert of Seattle said he was part of the first junior high aqua camp Randy and Linda led when they were members of Kirkland United Church of Christ.

“As you explored your sense of call, you inspired our sense of call,” Ryan said.  “That summer shaped the rest of my life—from relationships formed at meals, on porches and decks, in boats and on the beach, we have stories to share with our children and grandchildren.”

John Hubbe of Richland praised Randy for his ability to build community and for being a visionary to renovate some buildings, build new ones and renew the camp to serve people.

As Boyd steps into the legacy of hospitality, he is not only meeting people at the camp but also visiting congregations so people in the pews know who he is.

 “I recognized early in my work with children, youth and adults, that camp gives them a place to be who they are away from their usual social barriers.  It is a safe, sacred space where they can relax,” he said.

For it to be such a space, Boyd discourages use of technology at camp.  Once campers get beyond their hesitation about not having technology, camp goes easily,” he said.

More on 2012 summer camps will be in the next Conference News.

For information, call 208-689-3480 or email

Summer cook hired full time

Along with the shift in camp managers at N-Sid-Sen, there has been a shift with the retirement of 15-year camp cook Mary Japenga, to second cook Cody Woodridge.

Japenga came to North Idaho 22 years ago from Iowa to nurse her sister when she was ill.  Her husband, Gary, began teaching business.  Now her mother, 87, in her hometown of Sanborn, Iowa, needs help and she’s returning there.

Coming from United Methodist background, she has been drawn by the United Church of Christ, which is now part of who she is.  One son is a Presbyterian pastor.

“N-Sid-Sen is a sacred space for me,” she said at her retirement party in August, which served her favorite meal, a taco bar.

Coby Woodruff from Kettle Falls has been coming to camp since he was seven.  In his five years studying theatre and studio art—graduating in June from Eastern Washington University—he has spent four summers cooking at N-Sid-Sen, the last two as second cook.  Now he’s the full-time cook.

A long-term goal is to earn a master’s degree in teaching.

“I had considered going into culinary arts, but chose theatre arts, loving the writing, painting and carpentry,” Coby said.  “I also love to cook for others and have others enjoy my cooking.

“I can’t imagine what it would be for me without this place.  I love the people who come here and the community they are,” Coby said, who will have a room at N-Sid-Sen, but will also live in Coeur d’Alene.

Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © September 2012





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