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Ready, Set... Camp!

By: Rev. Eric VanMeter, special contributor

Storm Mtn Campfire

Campfires and a guitar add to the experience at an elementary school-age camp.

With summer drawing nearer each day, Dakotas camps are ramping up for an eventful camping season, according to Christy Heflin, Director at Lake Poinsett Camps.

“Registrations at LPC were up last year, and we expect them to be up again this year,” she said. “We hope to see the waterfront full of kids in only a matter of months.”

Jobs available

In order for that to happen, however, plenty of work remains for both local churches and camps. At Lake Poinsett, Heflin says the focus now is on shoring up the summer staff. In addition to full-time and seasonal employees, Dakotas camps rely on young adults and older youth (age 16+) for cooking, cleaning, and other camp staffing needs. Those interested can apply here.


Camp Sunday

Many congregations did fundraisers on Superbowl Sunday to provide scholarships for campers. Others will host Camp Sundays to highlight the ministry, often including a testimony from campers or a message from one of the camp directors.  

Storm Mountain Top

Campers enjoy the views atop Storm Mountain.

Beata Ferris, the Dakotas-Minnesota Area UMC Camp & Retreat Ministries Marketing/Outreach Project Manager, has spoken at various churches about camping in the Dakotas. She points to the “What’s in a Name?” resources provided by the camping board for churches to use on their Camp Sunday.

“The material connects with the curriculum we’ll be using at this year’s camps,” Ferris said. “Like Jacob or Moses, no one encounters God and walks away unchanged. The same sort of thing happens when people go to camp.”

Dakotas camps continue to look for creative ways to engage people across the region. For the second year in a row, Lake Poinsett will host a Clergy Family Getaway July 3-7 for pastors, spouse, and children. The event is free to Dakotas clergy.

Heflin also noted that family camps have grown in popularity in recent years, allowing multiple generations to share the experience together. Lake Poinsett will host its family camp June 16-18, with Storm Mountain’s set for July 21-23 and Wesley Acres for July 28-30. 

Like other camps, Lake Poinsett is also working to extend the Dakotas Annual Conference’s missional reach by providing space for other groups. This summer, the camp will again host an area Deaf Camp, as well as several adult groups that include college organizations and scrapbookers.

When asked what churches could do to support camps, Heflin suggested congregations get creative. Lake Poinsett has supporters collecting a year’s supply of coffee and laundry detergent. But help can come in much smaller ways too.

Wesley Acres Camp

Wesley Acres Camp's Rope Course and zipline across the creek are big draws.

“Pray for our ministries—that’s the easy thing, but also the first thing,” Heflin said. “Then talk about camp. We have opportunities for all ages, from confirmation camps to family camps and everything in between. Camp is where you build memories together.”

Register for camp: Register for camp at Lake Poinsett Camp, Storm Mountain Center, or Wesley Acres Camp on or before April 30, and receive the Ealy Bird discount is $5 off per night at camp. (Some exclusions apply.) So, a two-night camp would be $10 off. If you register through our online registration system, the Early Bird price will automatically be charged.

Camp Sunday: Plan a special day set apart for your congregation to celebrate the ministry of camping together. Camp Sundays typically include camp style, themed worship with music, and testimonials on camps’ personal impact. In-person worship can consist of decorating the church in a camp theme, special snacks or meals, sharing information on registering, and getting local financial support. LINK TO RESOURCES


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000