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N-Sid-Sen prepares for fire safety by cutting trees, plans to purchase mattresses

Part of a restful, rejuvenating camp or retreat experience is to have a good night’s sleep, said Mark Boyd, managing director of N-Sid-Sen on the East Shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene.

N-Sid-Sen cabin overlooking Coeur d'Alene Lake.

So the Pacific Northwest Conference United Church of Christ camp and conference centers, N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs at Port Orchard, have launched a campaign to replace 334 mattresses by next season with $250 commercial mattresses.

Given that they are not slept on every night, some mattresses at N-Sid-Sen have lasted since the 1970s and 1980s, said Mark.

Awareness of damage by 2016 area wildfires led N-Sid-Sen to look at its forests surrounding cabins and lodges on 80 acres on the lake side of Highway 97 and on 200 acres east of the highway.

Working with a forester, Mark said they cut down 20 percent of the trees near cabins and lodges, trees dying or diseased because of bark beetles or root fungus.

Now that he knows how to recognize unhealthy trees, he noted when he recently drove across the state how many fir trees are dying. 

“Part of being stewards of the forest is to be aware, clear underbrush and to replant with species like white pine that are resistant to root fungus,” said Mark, who expects to replant next spring.

At each week-long, age-group and family camp and retreat session this year, he will tell why it was necessary to thin the trees and be stewards of the forest.

Campers can go on shoreline walks, hike to Inspiration Point, play volleyball and basketball, and join in big group games in the meadow.  Other activities include swimming, water skiing, tubing, sailing, canoeing, paddle boating, paddle boarding and kayaking.

Because the camp depends on volunteer leaders and counselors, he and Wade Zick, managing director of Pilgrim Firs, are developing a program to train counselors and leaders aged 15 and older to increase the pool of volunteers available and trained to help run camps.

For the 2016 season, N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs are using “Fearless Faith: Courage in Community,” a curriculum to help campers draw courage from biblical characters, their friends, families and communities of faith to help them stand up to mistrust, injustice and fear in society.  The program invites campers to reflect on life, forgive others, change attitudes and welcome people, Mark added.

Throughout the year, N-Sid-Sen connects with campers and members of the region’s United Church of Christ churches through Facebook.

Almost every day, Mark posts a reflective entry, connecting a photo of a sunset, water, meadow, flowers, woods or other camp scenes with a faith insight.

Many people comment—not on Facebook but in person—about how they appreciate the postings.

“It’s a way to remind folks who do not live in places like this how they need to slow down, look around and see what’s important,” Mark said. “We are hit with so much misinformation as mass media try to keep us distracted. “

I say look around, look at our lives, our moments and our times,” he said.

Through Facebook, he primarily reaches parents, who are the ones to decide about their children going to camp.

For information, call 208-689-3489 or visit

Copyright ©June 2016 - The Fig Tree