Series: Regional Summer Camps for Faith Communities
Lutherhaven pivots to traditional youth camps
COVID has had an impact on the plans of various faith communities in the region for their summer camp programs and usage. Several articles in this issue cover the ever-changing dynamics around those plans, especially the decision to approve Pfizer vaccinations for 12 to 15 year olds.
Camp Lutherhaven is pivoting back to traditional summer youth camp this year with new opportunities for families and groups to enjoy all the faith-formative fun of summer camp.
"We're especially thrilled to be back to some semblance of 'normal'," said Bob Baker, Lutherhaven's executive director of 28 years, "because 2021 marks Lutherhaven's 75th anniversary—three-quarters of a century welcoming kids, youth, families and churches from around the country," he said.
Plans are in the works for a 75th anniversary family and friends celebration on Saturday, Sept. 25, with details to come.
"It's incredible to think of the faith of six families who, in 1945, put up $50 each to make the down payment for this remarkable piece of Lake Coeur d'Alene property that has been 'camp' to thousands of kids from around the world," said Bob. "There's no way a group starting a Christian camp could even dream of walking in and buying property like this today."
Lutherhaven has taken a regional and national lead in developing and communicating ever-changing COVID guidelines to fellow Christian camps.
"Camp directors have followed our lead," he said, "because we draw campers from so many states and internationally. It means we can't simply follow Idaho protocols, because what's everyday practice in Idaho might seem foreign to a camper, family or group from another state."
Lutherhaven Ministries is fully open this summer at all three of its North Idaho sites—Camp Lutherhaven, Shoshone Mountain Retreat and Ranch, and its new McPherson Meadows.
"We're paying close attention to safety protocols for camps advocated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), American Camp Association (ACA) and the Association of Camp Nursing.
"At defining times like these," Bob said, "camps have to pick a North Star to follow. Those organizations, and the excellent, science-based procedures they recommend, are the guides we've chosen to follow."
Lutherhaven campers will not wear masks in their cabin groups to create a more normal camp experience.
"We are blessed to have a health care team made of medical and public health professionals," Bob said. "Following ACA best practices, they are requiring all campers to be tested prior to coming to camp, and all of our front line counselors to be vaccinated.
"Because we're a revolving door of kids and families, our #1 goal is the health and safety of all our kids, staff, families and the folks back home," he said.
"Camper testing is the kingpin to allowing our summer camp programs—from worship to games to Bible studies to campfires—to operate as normally as possible," he said.
Along with requiring staff who are in close contact with campers to be vaccinated, Lutherhaven urges everyone 12 and older to be vaccinated, as medically advisable.
The theme for Lutherhaven this year is "Always," based on Psalm 100: "The Lord is good. God's steadfast love endures forever, and God's faithfulness to all generations."
"It's a perfect theme for our 75 years," Bob said. "It's not too hard to imagine—after me being here 28 summers—to imagine our 100th summer."
In addition to traditional youth camps, Lutherhaven is offering family and church camp programs alongside kids programming.
Plus Lutherhaven's Idaho Servant Adventures will bring in youth from around the nation for community service and outreach programs in the Silver Valley—helping elderly homeowners with home repairs or leading camp programs for campers with special needs.
New this year, Lutherhaven will offer free Day Camp programs to Silver Valley children, including three weeks of busing kids from Kellogg, Wallace and Osborn to Shoshone Mountain Retreat for faith-based day camp programs and activities. The day camps are sponsored by a grant from the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation and United Way of North Idaho.
"We are so thankful to God, so thankful to our faithful and generous donors and congregations, who have allowed Lutherhaven to not just survive this challenging COVID year, but to thrive," Bob said.
For information, call 208-667-3459 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright@ The Fig Tree, June, 2021