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Summer Camp Programs

Camps welcome people who do and don’t attend church


Camp Spalding continues to embrace its relationship with families and churches from its historic Presbyterian constituency, while also seeking ways to welcome people who do not attend church, said Andy Sonneland, executive director of the camp near Newport.

Camp Spalding Canoes
Campers go on canoe outing at Camp Spalding.

The last 15 years, the percentage of non-Presbyterian campers has gone from 33 to 66 percent. 

Overall he said that the attendance continues to increase, approaching the pre-recession record in 2008.

“Reaching out to the community allows us to both partner with our most supportive churches in the spiritual formation of our youth, while also providing a fun experience, in which unchurched campers hear Jesus’ call to ‘follow me’ to a life of purpose and hope,” he said.

“In my 24 years I have not seen a significant change in how kids experience camp.  It is as popular as ever,” said Andy. 

“While some activities have changed, a week away in a natural setting, with fun, still-cool staff role models, nature-based adventures and time to consider life’s big questions from a standpoint of faith remain a winning combination,” he said.

Camp Spalding tells campers not to bring phones or other electronics. 

Some do, so cabin counselors collect electronics the first night and keep them in a bag the office for the week.

“Part of the magic of camp is to unplug for the week, to engage with nature and each other,” said Andy.

Camp Spalding just finished two capital improvement projects: a suspension bridge to an adjacent rock island, and a new entry area that also doubles for storage.

The bridge gives access to the island in early summer when the water is high and for adult conference guests with mobility issues.

They seek $100,000 more to build a pavilion as a “base camp” for campers to explore the woods and lake, discovering the “finely-tuned natural world of the Creator,” Andy said.

The pavilion will house the craft program, nature center and meeting space for up to 50 guests for mid-year conferences.

For information, call 509-731-4244 or visit

Copyright © June 2015 - The Fig Tree