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Despite national shortage, N-Sid-Sen had full staff

Pam Peterson, managing director of N-Sid-Sen, found that living on Lake Coeur d’Alene felt natural to her, having lived by a lake her whole life.

Pam Peterson at the close of worship at the Westminster-Colville-Chewelah retreat in early September.

Lake Coeur d’Alene is a different body of water than the one she grew up beside. Storms are more ferocious, so floating docks are preferred. The water is much deeper than the lake in New York. Storms come off the mountains. In the spring, water comes way up obliterating the shoreline. It dropped and the milkweed beds returned.

Pam finds lessons for life and the PNC in that setting.

“I love working outdoors and look forward to using my skills in eco-spirituality retreats for pastors and laity,” she said.

“Many churches in the conference are experiencing transitions, so it’s helpful to be in nature. There is always transition in nature, such as with monarch butterflies’ different stages in their life cycles. Those stages and changes keep them healthy and keep them going,” she said.

On that theme, the camp nurtured milkweed to draw monarch butterflies and had butterflies on the 2023 T-shirts.

Pam notes that dormancy is “not as a time of doing nothing but as a time of gestation, a time that things are going on if we know how to listen for and see them.”

Starting in April, Pam expected she would have a major learning curve That was true.

Compounding normal issues starting in that role just before the summer season was the impact of the nationwide shortage of camp staff.

She spent more time than anticipated in the kitchen before staff came.

This summer, two Camp America staff helped cook.

“We need a full-time kitchen boss, cook and kitchen staff on a regular basis,” she said. “Later in the summer, we used a catering company and temporary cooks.”

“Eventually, we had enough staff committed through Aug. 15, the week after the UCC family camp,” she said.

By the first of October she hired a full-time resident kitchen boss and chef.

Although groups the end of August cancelled, September was full and remains full through mid-October with a weekend dance camp and a quilt group.

Because of the fires this summer and as part of normal safety, Pam applied for and has  reeived a grant to bring an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps group to do fire mitigation ini November and December. They will arrive about Nov. 1 and stay to the third week of December.

“They will cut down the overgrowth, bushes and saplings throughout the camp, especially clearing around the buildings. That waste will be turned into wood chips to cover the roadway to the cove,” she said.

Pam is also considering more ways to promote use of N-Sid-Sen by more churches and larger, more financially sustainable groups. She is exploring making N-Sid-Sen a wedding venue. A Samoan group may come for a week next August and do their own cooking.

“We also want more groups who will take advantage of our whole setting, especially young, highly mobile groups coming to pitch tents in the ropes course area,” she said.

For example, a group from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is considering coming next spring to use the full property.

“We plan to rent wall tents next summer and see what interest there is in “glamping” to draw young adults,” she added.

“UCC summer camps were not at capacity, so I hope to tour the conference to meet people in the churches and invite them so we can be closer to capacity,” she said.

“The camps were great. Kids had a wonderful time exploring camp offerings, making friends and reuniting with friends from last year,” Pam said.

“One piece was that the new You and Me camp—an adult and elementary school child—was paired with senior high camp. The high schoolers interacted with the grade schoolers, especially at the waterfront, helping them get on the raft or learn to swim. They stepped into the role of older sibling. At the tables, they happily sat with each other.”

The Kids Camp was not held, because children interested came to the You and Me Camp led by Kaila Russell.

“We are back up and running post-COVID and experienced no illnesses,” said Pam, who plans to start marketing the camps in October, encouraging campers to take advantage of the early sign up $100 discount.

“We appreciated all the volunteer staff and directors,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without them. We are already recruiting for next year.”

“There is never ending maintenance, switching light bulbs and doorknobs, repainting, checking and replacing roofs,” she said.

Dean Johnson is the full-time maintenance director. There is need for an assistant maintenance staff person.

“Camp is about hospitality, strangers dining together,” Pam said, explaining that groups often want the privacy of having the whole camp without paying what is needed to rent the whole facility. Often they do not want to share the space.”

In early September, there were several combined church retreats. One week, Westminster, Colville and Chewelah shared the facility. The next week, Pullman and Colfax shared it. The third week, Walla Walla and Wallace were scheduled.

Pam will go to churches by Zoom or in person to preach.

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit


Pacific NW United Church of Christ Conference News © October 2023


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