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Church camps find innovative ways to draw more campers

Servant leadership is part of all Lutherhaven Ministries camps

Lutherhaven Camp Splash
Waterfront fun at camp Lutherhaven

Lutherhaven Ministries believes so strongly that children and youth can be leaders at home with their families and friends, in their schools, in sports and other activities, and in their communities, that they recently hired Adam Peters as director of servant leadership.  He has a master’s degree in servant leadership from the University of Nebraska.

Bob Baker, executive director of Lutherhaven Ministries, which operates Camp Lutherhaven on the eastern shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Shoshone Mountain Retreat on the Idaho-Montana border near Wallace, said servant leadership is integrated into all Lutherhaven programs from grade school through junior high, high school and adults.

“It’s about raising up leaders for our church, communities and God’s kingdom,” he said.  “Leadership is about communication skills, earning trust and making positive social choices.  It’s also about serving others in the community as the hands, feet and voice of Jesus.”

Lutherhaven campers join in a singnnnn-a-long activity.

Lutherhaven tries to involve campers in such volunteer projects as giving the camp entrance a facelift, creating an outdoor chapel and maintaining trails.  Such projects give young people not only a sense of pride in improving the camp but also a sense of the “big picture of leaving their fingerprints on the future of the nearly 70-year-old ministry.”

Programs at the Shoshone Mountain Retreat in the Bitterroot Mountains include overnight horseback trips into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, thanks to a federal outfitters and guides permit.

Lutherhaven’s head wrangler, Danyal Coon from Colorado, watches over the camp’s 17 horses.  Each week, 16 campers from fourth through 12th grades become acquainted with the horses, go on trail rides, learn horsemanship skills in the arena and, at the week’s end, experience an overnight trail ride.

In his 20 years at Lutherhaven, Bob has seen a shift from 85 percent of campers coming from area churches to a third coming from them, a third coming as friends and “a third hearing about camp from the community and coming as unchurched.”

“The off season is busier,” Bob said.  “In fact, there is really no off season.  About 2,700 children and youth come in the spring and fall alone for school outdoor environmental education programs.

Another change is that Lutherhaven, which once drew primarily from Greater Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and North Idaho, now draws from around the Northwest and the country.

“We also do more contracted group camps, like big churches that bring 150 youth.  We have five weeks of those camps this summer,” Bob said.

For information, visit


Ross Point provides church camps and Camp Journey

Ross Point Canoe
Campers paddle a canoe on the Spokane River at Ross Point Camp.

In addition to four age-related youth camps and a family camp, Ross Point Camp and Conference Center at Post Falls, Idaho, is offering Camp Journey for children with cancer.

“We hosted the camp for nine years,” said John Batchelder, executive director of Ross Point.  “Some of the parents and children wanted it here.  We are staffing it and using volunteers.”

Beyond four weeks of American Baptist church camps that are open to everyone, the rest of summer other groups will use the camp for their programs—St. Mary’s of Egypt, Alderwood Community Church from western Washington. 

Ross Point Party
A party at Ross Point Camp.

There are also programs for team building, servant leadership, communications and veterinarians.

“Typically denominational churches are declining in youth,” John said.  “The challenge is to reach beyond church walls, because once children and youth come, there is great loyalty to the program.  They come back to be with their friends.

“With technology and young people spending so much time inside, many are less excited to go to camp, but once they come, they are excited.  The one week of camp can have a deep impact,” he added.

John promotes the camp through building relationships visiting churches, which hold Camp Sundays.

For information, visit

Campers serve community while enjoying camp life

Tyler Wagner, director at the United Methodist’s Camp Twinlow on Twin Lakes north of Rathdrum, Idaho, said that high school groups come for four weeks of the Idaho Mission Program and go out to serve in the community while enjoying camp, going to Silverwood, biking on the Hiawatha Trail and backpacking.

“It’s a chance for youth groups to experience Idaho and partner with such agencies as Shalom Ministries in Spokane, the Twin Lakes Association to restore a creek for water quality and Elder Help to help low-income people in Idaho care for homes and yards.

Twinlow, which is in its 86th year, is offering eight weeks of camps, doing Bible studies, discussions and activities around the theme, “All Things New.”

Kristen Moon, the guest group coordinator, said Twinlow is offering a two-week session of Counselors In Training for ninth to 12th graders.

“One week, they learn about what it means to be a counselor and then they pair with a counselor at one of the three to four camps that run simultaneously each week,” she said.

Twinlow offers two weeks of primary camps and three sessions of junior camp, junior high and high school camps.  Junior and senior high camp options are explorer camp—sleeping in tents—regular camp, water sports and MADD (music, arts, dance and drama) camps.  There is also a three-day family camp in the summer and one in the fall.

Camp Twinlow hires 20 summer staff and has volunteer leaders, too.

Four of nine rustic cabins have been renovated, and volunteers continue to remodel cabins one-by-one.  Volunteers are also renovating rooms at the retreat center and adding a cement floor to the boathouse.

For information, visit

Copyright © June 2014 - The Fig Tree