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Region’s summer camps designed in many models

Camp life motivates campers to stretch faith lives and commitment

Campers do a group game.  
Photo courtesy of Camp Gifford Camp

The Salvation Army’s Camp Gifford, which opened in 1921 on Deer Lake, invites children and youth to opportunities to know they belong, know their lives matter and to experience adventures.

Scholarships make it possible for low-income children to attend based on a sliding scale, said Mark Morton, camp director.

This summer, he said that along with their traditional activities, the camp will have a small-animal farm with miniature horses, goats, sheep and chickens to teach children how to care for animals.

It is also planning to add seven tandem kayaks, six paddle boats and air rifles for target practice along with archery.

Camp Gifford offers five weeks of camp age-group programs and one week of music camp July 10 to 14.

Discovery Camp at the main camp serves 60 boys and 60 girls ages seven to 12.

The Teen Wilderness Camp for 12 boys and 12 girls ages 13 to 17 has cabins, bathrooms and a dining hall, but no electricity or running water.  Campers swim at the lake, but otherwise are secluded at a distance from the main camp. They also do a backpacking trip and canoe across the lake and back.

Campers come from Spokane, Eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and register through Salvation Army units in Spokane, in Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and in Great Falls, Kalispel and Helena, Mont.

Each week, about 50 staff and volunteers lead the program. 

“We are a Christian camp first and foremost, so we have morning devotions, Bible studies, songs about faith, evening devotions at campfires and in cabins at the end of the day, as well as opportunities to learn about God through relationships and camp activities,” said Mark.

“The theme this year, ‘Go Big,’ is based on Mark 12:30, which says we are to ‘love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength,’” he said.

Camp Gifford is open all year for conferences and retreats of corporations, churches, schools, colleges and parachurch groups.

It also hosts two Royal Family Kids Camps for children in foster care—one the week before and one the week after the six weeks of summer camps.

For 10 years, Mark ran Redwood Glen Salvation Army camp near Santa Cruz, Calif., and worked seven years at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Camden, N.J.  He earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1988 at the University of California in Los Angeles and a master’s in education there in 1989. 

He taught high school for three years before he decided to enter ministry.

“I grew up in Salvation Army camps as a child and teen, and went on staff in college,” said Mark, whose wife, Josephine, is program director for the summer camp. 

For information, call 233-2511 or email

Copyright © June 2017 - The Fig Tree