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Extended family has strong ties to N-Sid-Sen camps

Of the 500 participating in programs of the PNC camps, 20 were members of the extended family of Trudy and Ron Lambert.

Trudy Lambert, left, and Gale Peterson, right, share two grandchildren.                                              Photo courtesy of Trudy Lambert

For four years, Trudy, a member of Veradale UCC, has led Kids Camps at N-Sid-Sen with Gale Peterson of Kirkland UCC. 

Trudy’s daughter, Sarah McDonald, also at Veradale UCC, has led Junior High Aqua Camp several years with her sister-in-law, Meredith Lambert, who is Gale’s daughter.

Sarah’s brothers, Ryan and Pat, both met their wives at N-Sid-Sen. They were Sarah’s cabin mates.  Both had their weddings there.

Pat’s wife is Meredith.

Ryan, who is pastor at Kirkland UCC, and his wife, Shauna, have led Family Camp I at N-Sid-Sen for several years. 

Shauna, the daughter of Mike and Kathy Ellsworth, grew up in Deer Park UCC.

Sarah has led Midwinter Retreats at N-Sid-Sen for more than 16 years and has led Junior High Aqua Camps for the last two years with Meredith.

Sarah has been going to camps since she was four years old, when her family was Disciples of Christ and attended as part of the United Ministries cooperative regional ministry of Disciples, UCC and Brethren churches.

Her three children, Emma, 13, Cole, 15, and Randy, 18, have been at camps since they were babies. 

“It’s an important place in our lives and the lives of so many other people.  It’s a safe place to be with the Conference commitment to welcome people where they are.  That welcome is unique.  The world does not offer it,” said Sarah.  “Campers can come and be who they are.  We encourage them to feel a sense of ownership of the camp.  It’s everybody’s place.  We can take pride in it.”

By describing the experience at Junior High Aqua Camp, which Sarah helped lead this summer, she pointed to the importance of camps.

At Junior High Aqua Camp, she and Meredith helped lead campers in discussing “Fearless Faith” and what courage is, especially in the midst of different expressions of spirituality.

Sarah’s daughter invited interfaith friends.

“They took a spirituality quiz,” Sarah said.  “I point out that our spirituality changes hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.  Where we are in our faith journeys changes as we are in adulthood.”

Another strength of the camp experience, she said, is that campers live together and build a sense of community.

“Tubing on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River is a time to just be, after the youth have been run through a structured week,” Sarah added.

The float trip was cold, but a culmination of the community experience, as were the water Olympics, a talent show and a climb of all 41 junior high campers to Inspiration Point.

Community was also deepened by a combination of good conversations and having fun.

“The youth come from different backgrounds.  Life is heavy for some.  So we have deliberate conversations and time to be silly,” Sarah said.

One of the daily silly times is when she does cabin check each evening and dresses in silly costumes.

Hiking to Inspiration Point on Friday capped the week.  It was also a time for sharing the history of the camp, given to the former Washington North Idaho UCC Conference by the Ford family in the 1940s.

“We talked about creation and did crafts as a whole group.  In addition, crafts were optional during aqua time,” she said.

Midwinter in March is a “quick weekend” from Friday evening to Sunday morning for junior and senior high youth at N-Sid-Sen.

“It gives a weekend hit of camp, when teens are excited to see people from camp and to have a break from academics and activities with no social media or cell hones,” she said.

While she has led it for more than 16 years, she plans to step down this year so someone else can step into leadership.

“We need new people to be part of camp leadership, people with younger children and ties to other congregations.  To grow camp, we need new camp leaders.

“Camp programs at N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs are extremely necessary.  I encourage friends to take their children to camp, and those who come get hooked,” Sarah said.

Trudy, who grew up in North Hill Christian Church in Spokane and joined Veradale UCC 16 years ago, has been coming to camps since 1978.  For 10 years, she was a counselor at Junior High Aqua camps, and she has been co-directing Kids Camps about 10 years.

Her husband, Ron, and Sarah’s husband, Rory, have often brought their boats to N-Sid-Sen to pull people for tubing and waterskiing.  Both have also attended Family Camps.

She said Ryan and Shauna’s children, Grace, 14 and Marin, 9, have come to camps, as have Pat and Meredith’s daughters, Megan 17 and Ashley, 15.  This year, Randy, Cole, Megan and Ashley were counselors in training at Kids Camp.

Gale’s daughter Brooke Yule has co-directed Junior High with Eric Lofgren for four years.  Her daughter, Libby was at Kids Camp this year.  Her son and daughter-in-law, Chip and Kelly, have two sons, Eric and Evan, who have come to a Family Camp and Kids Camp.

Camp is a place of beauty, calm and peace, a place to gain a sense of God’s creation in a setting of positive interactions with adults and other children,” Trudy said.

“Camp keeps people involved in church,” she said.  “Camp has definitely had an impact on the extended Lambert family’s lives.”

The extended family also spent Labor Day weekend at N-Sid-Sen.

For information, call 509-244-1444 or email


Copyright © September 2016 - Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ News


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