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Challenges. Learning. Excitement: Rev. Nicole Anderson's first months as LPC Director

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Nicole Snow

Rev. Nicole Anderson takes a selfie from the tractor she uses to move snow at Lake Poinsett Camp. Photo from Facebook.

Three months into the role as the Director at Lake Poinsett Camp and Living Waters Retreat Center, Rev. Nicole Anderson is inspired by the opportunities and challenges each day.

"It has been a whirlwind of learning the ins and outs of what it takes to run a camp, making sure everything is working and accessible when it needs to be ready for our guests and campers to experience radical hospitality," said Pastor Nicole. "I am learning a lot of new things."

She is the only full-time employee at the camp this winter. Several volunteers and part-time employees have assisted with tasks, but most responsibilities are with Anderson. Pastor Nicole has winterized the camp, handled the snow removal, and hosted campers and guests.

"We move snow with a tractor. This winter was the first time I had been behind the wheel of a tractor. It can be a little intimidating. I am a little person, and this is a big machine," said Pastor Nicole. "The first time I pushed snow, it took longer than anticipated. You wonder—what is the best way to move snow? What pattern do I need to follow? The second time snow needed to be moved, it took me significantly less time."

The amount of snowfall has been less this winter. The wind has been challenging.

"I was not too happy that I moved all the snow, and then we had a severe north wind that blew all the snow from where I had put it to where it shouldn't be. The wind chill was negative 50," describes Pastor Nicole. "I went and moved it again, and then the wind switched directions—out of the south at 40 miles an hour and pushed it all back. That's South Dakota!"

Winterizing the camp, especially the lower camp, with utilities in place from the 1950s when the camp was acquired, was another challenge.

"There was a need to put anti-freeze into the supply lines. They are old copper pipes. I had to learn how to use a water pump to do that. I learned the hard way: " You must prime the pump before opening up the spigot, or the air will blow anti-freeze everywhere," says Pastor Nicole. "I had to learn how to restart the pilot light in the fireplace. I have had to learn how to wear all kinds of different hats to keep camp going."

In the past few months, Lake Poinsett has hosted confirmation groups, spiritual retreats, pastors, and teams for worship planning. During all that activity, some remodeling is taking place at the director's residence.

"The rhythm is a little different than the summer program. There has been a steady flow of folks coming and utilizing this blessed space," Pastor Nicole said.

Anderson is looking forward to the 2024 camping season. Stepping Stones, a new camp for middle school students, will launch this summer.

"I have been working with Reverend Melissa Gall and Pastor Kim Hastings, who will serve as deans for Stepping Stones. It is a chance for middle school kids to connect their faith with life. It is an age where everything around them is changing. They've left the security of their elementary schools and are in this transition time as they look forward to high school. There are stepping stones in this time," said Pastor Nicole.

The intentional integration of intergenerational camps for the upcoming summer camping season brings excitement to Anderson.

"Last year, Teddy Bear Camp [a young child, up to the age of 7 attends with a parent, grandparent, or important adult] happened at the same time as Leadership Training Camp [LTC is a leadership development camp for high school students]. A huge hit among the Teddy Bear campers and their guardians who came with them and the high school kids," Pastor Nicole said. "Both groups asked if that could happen again. It gave the little kids the opportunity to see what they get to do as they get older. The high schoolers had this opportunity to really step into what it means to be a leader in faith."

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Photo illustration courtesy of Dakotas UM Camps.

Camp registration for all three of the Dakotas United Methodist Camps—Lake Poinsett, Storm Mountain, and Wesley Acres is now open. Register today

Register before April 30 and receive the Early Bird Discount— a $5 per night discount. For example, a 5-night camp would have a $25 discount. Some exclusions apply. If you register online, the Early Bird price is already calculated. Registration cost will appear as the discounted price. 

Save even more by bringing a friend with you to camp. For the Bring-a-Friend Discount incentive, you will receive $25.00 off the price of your camp for each new camper that you or your child bring to camp. New campers are defined as those who have not been to any Dakotas United Methodist Camp event in the past three years. List your friend's name in the Bring-a-Friend Discount Request form located in your online registration dashboard. Camp staff will apply the discount after your friend registers for camp.

"I'm seeing those camper registrations come through. I can speak on behalf of all the camp directors; there is nothing more exciting than seeing those registrations," said Anderson. "I'm looking forward to the day we welcome back our first campers. It is exciting to hear and feel the energy of folks coming into this sacred space set apart and to be able to experience Christ, creation, and community!"


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