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Summer Church Camps 2016

Lutherhaven celebrates its 70th year of summer camping

To celebrate its 70th summer of camping, Lutherhaven plans an anniversary party from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 28, with a carnival day of games, waterfront activities and more.

Idaho Servant Adventures participants work on an outdoor chapel at the Shoshone ranch.              Photo courtesy of Lauren Gust

In 1945, Lutheran churches of the Inland Northwest bought 16 acres overlooking Mica Bay and eight 1930s-era Civilian Conservation Camp buildings from the Avery, Idaho, area for $500.  They established it as a camp for all Lutheran denominations.

More than 1,000 people attended its official dedication in May 1946.  The first camp was held in late June.  That summer, 650 campers came. 

Until 1973 when Lutherhaven hired its first year-round executive director, it was just a summer camp. Indoor plumbing and meeting spaces were added for winter retreats.

Now more than 1,500 children come to the camp each summer, said Lauren Gust, marketing associate. The camp serves about 12,000 guests each year, including 7,000 children and youth, coming to different programs.

Today, the camp is on 60 acres.

A secondary site, purchased in 2009 from the U.S. Forest Service at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, includes the Shoshone Mountain Retreat and Shoshone Creek Ranch.  It is on 35 acres surrounded by the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.  The ranch includes horse riding and pioneer experiences for eight children and youth each week.

Today, Lutherhaven is more than a summer camp, Lauren said.

It also serves children and teens through day camps in churches, ranch camps, camps for children with special needs, leadership camps, Idaho Servant Adventures, outdoor education and winter youth retreats.

It serves families with family camps, group rentals, work weekends, and its camping and RV sites.

It serves adults through men’s and women’s retreats, older adult programs, meetings, events, conferences and volunteer opportunities.

This summer a new program, Castaway Camp, replaces the Homestead Camp, in which campers stayed in tents in walking distance to the main camp.  The new camp brings the canvas-walled tents into the main camp.  Campers will still learn basic survival and cooking skills, while enjoying all the regular activities of summer camp.

Lutherhaven is renovating its year-round retreat center with hotel-style bedrooms and bathrooms.

The summer activities have expanded over the years to include a challenge course, high and low ropes, group-building exercises, a climbing tower with a zipline and water toys.

Summer camps are for multiple ages with cabins for each age group.  The age ranges vary each week. 

Lutherhaven has 65 staff hired over a summer, with about 30 of them on site each week, said Lauren.

Lauren said camp experiences allow campers to “encounter creation, create community and commune with Christ.” 

About a third of campers are un-churched and learn about Jesus for the first time, she said. 

For information, call 208-667-3459, ext. 117, or email marketing

Copyright © June 2016 - The Fig Tree