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Senior high campers bring together different cultures

The choice to schedule Senior High Aqua Camp at N-Sid-Sen and Senior High Camp at Pilgrim Firs early from June 25 to July 2 meant that the last day of school in Seattle—because of snow days— was the first day of camp.

The Noah Group meets on porch at N-Sid-Sen lodge.  Long time camper Noah Sprenkle, a senior from Richland who couldn’t come, was represented by a cardboard cutout.  Campers carried it around and danced with it, so he was present.                    Photo courtesy of Tony Kliment

Tony Kliment who co-directed the aqua camp with Sheila Thieme, describe camp as an intimate affair this year with about 16 youth “enjoying what turned out to be a unique camp experience.”

That’s fewer than any time in the 14 years he has directed the camp.  Usually about 40 come.

“The limited attendance was not good financially, but allowed campers and staff to experience camp in new ways,” he said.  “There was more intimate for group discussions and activities.”

 One activity was a behind-the-scenes tour led by Mark Boyd, managing director at N-Sid-Sen Camp and Conference Center on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The camp included water adventures—swimming, tubing and a rafting in the cove instead of a float trip on a nearby river, because the early date meant that the water was too high and cold to float safely, Tony said.

“We many good group conversations around trust, welcoming others and re-imagining the senior high camp experience for the future,” he added.

The visioning was particularly important because midweek we were joined by more than 50 campers and counselors from the Pilgrim Firs Senior High Camp,” he said.

“Our fellow campers received a warm welcome when they arrived by bus Wednesday afternoon as they were introduced to N-Sid-Sen as the first step in combining the two camps,” he said.  “They left Friday morning.”

Campers play with a big beach ball.

This year’s Senior High Aqua Camp began a process that will continue next year with just one senior high camp held at N-Sid-Sen.

“As for combining camps, the main conversations were around how to combine two unique and well-established cultures, recognizing that each camp group needs to be open to change as we create new camp traditions,” said Tony.

Campers and staff from both N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs will need to let go of some of their established traditions in order to embrace and create new ones.

There is steering committee made up of youth and adults from both camps to help this process move forward, he said.

That committee should begin meeting in the near future, and Mark will have more information. 

A few campers have gone to both N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs.

Tony said that N-Sid-Sen tends to be more about water sports, being on a big lake with big grounds. PF is small with a little lake, said Tony.

Other highlights of the week included several rain and wind storms—mostly in the evenings—that led to creative indoor campfires.


“Camp also included a heart-centered art project led by MaryLu (Hubbe) Vait from Richland, and pastor Jan Shannon from Westminster UCC in Spokane,” Tony said.  “The project was about teaching us graciousness and guiding us in our worship activities.

He explained that the heart project was about campers all being part of something bigger, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

MaryLu provided 6-by-10-inch painting canvases. Each camper and staff had one canvas, one piece of the heart, to paint. 

Then they placed the canvases into a big square and outlined giant hearts.  It formed the mosaic that became a heart.

Kelsey Peterson and Kristen Almgren were the directors with Wade Zick, managing director of Pilgrim Firs, came along for support.

“It was a mixed adventure for many as the week was the close to the long tradition of senior high camps at Pilgrim Firs,” Tony said.

For information, call 206-963-8983 or email, or visit or pilgrimfirs-org.


Pacific Northwest United Church News © September-October 2017


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