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Campers install signs to protect N-Sid-Sen property

2011 campers gain a sense of awe,
learn different ways to pray,
do a service project
and experience much more.

From seeing the star form of seeds in a cross-wise-cut apple, to feeling the earth under their feet on a hike, to installing signs to protect wildlife at N-Sid-Sen, 2011 campers experiences moved from a spirit of awe to a spirit of empowerment.

Campers install sign

Bob Watrous helps junior high campers Hope Jared of Cheney UCC and Connor Farrand of Richmond Beach UCC
in Shoreline install signs to protect grounds and wildlife.   
Photo by Kim Schulz

Stephen Haddan of Tolt UCC in Carnation saw “amazing transformation” in many of the 30 fifth and sixth graders as the intermediate camp at Pilgrim Firs progressed.

“They grew in their ability to work together, to listen to each other’s stories and to be creative, gaining an understanding of mystery and awe through nature, listening, storytelling and art,” he said.

Children can’t wait for camp

That’s what Haddon saw at camp, but he said he also saw a difference in one grade schooler from his church who attended the previous year.  There was a stronger connection with the conference.

“The children can’t wait to come back to camp and gain a sense about what youth group is about,” he said.

In his  20 years of involvement with intermediate camp at N-Sid-Sen, including directing it since 2005, Bob Watrous of Shalom UCC in Richland, said the number of campers was down for the third year because some are going to family camps, many are on the edge of their comfort zone about being away from home at this age and there are fewer children in churches.

Pilgrim Firs crafts
Sophie Ballard and Gwen Luccio of Tolt Carnation, Anna Mahron of Richmond Beach UCC, Counselor in training Anna Oakerland of Tolt, and Kayla Barbosa and Kat Loftfield Garner of Suquamish UCC in the art room at Pilgrim Firs.

“We need to go out to the churches and talk up the camps, encouraging campers to invite friends and siblings,” he said.

To meet parents’ requests, Watrous said that they assured 24-hour supervision with two adults in each cabin and holding counselors’ and staff meetings during swim time.

Campers put up signs

An incident in 2010 led to a camp project. 

One time when Randy Crowe, managing director, was away, someone with dogs went on the property, hiked the trail and encountered a mother and baby moose.  The dogs went after the moose, the person shot it and the calf ran away.

So the campers made six signs with vinyl lettering on aluminum plates mounted on 10-inch-high by 20-inch-wide pine boards.  The signs are posted on trees at the entry to the trails.

The signs say:  “For the safety of our camp critters, you are welcome to hike our trails, but please leave your guns and dogs at home.”

Watrous noted that the baby moose survived and is still seen on the property.

Kids like the ‘usual’ activities

Kids cheer

N-Sid-Sen kids campers Zoe Pfeifer, Shauni Haig, Garrett Blomgren and Dalton Wonders give a cheer.

The 26 children at N-Sid-Sen’s Kids Camp were introduced to camping with music, games, stories, a scavenger hunt, basket making and tie-dying shirts.

“We do the usual activities,” said Trudy Lambert, of Veradale UCC who has co-directed the camp for six years.  “The children like continuity.”

John Hubbe said that 62 junior high aqua campers for the second year had a seminary student chaplain, Irene Willis.  She led morning worship, a closing prayer at the end of campfire and other worship times.

Campers experience prayers

“One morning program was a collection of worship experiences and spiritual disciplines to introduce to the youth a variety of different ways a person can pray,” he said.

Some lit candles, and others walked the labyrinth in Stillwater Lodge.  Some each threw a pebble into the lake and watched the ripples go out and cross over each other.

Hubbe led a “grounded walk” in which the youth felt their contact with the ground under their feet and crawling.  He found the grounded walk particularly effective for one boy who had a hard time sitting still.

Others sat at a table and wrote prayers and drew pictures.

Junior High Aqua Camp

Campers build relationships, sense of connection as part of worship by touching each other’s backs on dock at N-Sid-Sen.

“We were working with the idea in the curriculum that campers come with wide spectrum of ‘intelligences’ or personalities and preferred ways to solve problems and create.  So they respond to different activities.

“At the beginning of camp, I introduce the concept that N-Sid-Sen is a point of inspiration, the name coming from the Coeur d’Alene tradition of young people going on a vision quest as a rite of passage,” he said.  “They would go to a promontory to see across the landscape so campers can see their daily lives from a different perspective.”

Hubbe co-directed the camp with Brooke several years after Randy and Linda Crowe led it.  He has led it the last three years with Dana Sprenkle, and has been a counselor for intermediate camps.

“I’ve learned about myself,” he said.

Counselors are former campers

Camp drama

Counselors re-enact the parable of the 10 lepers at Pilgrim Firs’ kids camp.

At Pilgrim Firs, Katy Lloyd who co-directed Kids Camp with Kaila Russell, said most of the 14 counselors and counselors in training were former campers. 

On Monday, to inspire the theme of wonder about God’s creation, she cut an apple crosswise so the children could see how the seeds form the shape of a star.  They took the seeds and counted them and told the children each seed could become a tree.

Rich Porter of United Christian Church in Yakima told how many bushels of apples are on one tree.

Children experience awe

“With each seed in many apples on many trees, what does that tell us about God?” she asked the campers.

“God is life,” one said.

Children shared their awe about:

• Jonah and the whale being a reminder of God’s power.

• One wondered what it would be like to be a star, why tides rise, why stars glow and more.

“God is a miracle.  God created us, nature, animals and the earth itself,” a camper said.

Tuesday rain kept campers indoors in the morning, but they decided to swim anyway, and then huddled into the fireside room afterwards to warm up with hot chocolate.

“We talked about what it means to be a child of God,” she said.

For 2012, the following retreats and camps are on the calendar:


Tubing and other water sports at aqua camps are fun and build self-confidence. On the tube are Baillie Hirst and Bailey Griffin of Tonasket Community UCC.

At Pilgrim Firs Camp and Conference Center on the Olympic Peninsula at Port Orchard, Wash.:   Junior High Mid-Winter Retreat is Jan. 6 to 8; Senior High Mid-Winder Retreat, Jan. 13 to 15; PNC Men’s Retreat, Feb. 2 to 5; Work Camp, May 25 to 27 or by arrangement; Spiritual Renewal GLBTQ, June 1 to 3; PNC Young Adults, June 22 to 24; Senior High, July 1 to 7; Junior High, July 8 to 14; Intermediate, July 15 to 21; Kids, July 22 to 25, and Family, Aug. 19 to 23.

For information, call 360-876-2031 or visit

At N-Sid-Sen Camp and Conference Center on the east shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene, north of Harrison, Idaho, there will be a retirement party for managing director Randy Crowe on April 14.

The MidWinter Youth Retreat is March 9 to 11; Women’s Retreat, May 10 to 16; Work Camp, June 10 to 16; Kids, July 8 to 11; Intermediate, July 8 to 14; Junior High Aqua, Aug. 5 to 11; Senior High Aqua, July 22 to 28; Family Camp #1, July 29 to Aug. 4, and Family Camp #2, Aug. 12 to 18.

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit

PNC youth will also participate in the National Youth Event, July 9 to 16..

Copyright Pacific Northwest Conference News © October 2011





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