Skip to Main Content

Alexandria, DeSmet, and Iroquois UMCs' challenge sparks giving to Dakotas camping ministry

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Life Jackets

Lake Poinsett Camp set up a link to purchase new life jackets. Photo from Facebook.

Did you know the three United Methodist camps in the Dakotas—Lake Poinsett, Storm Mountain, and Wesley Acres have a wish list? The list is an opportunity for congregations, groups, and individuals to answer God’s call inviting everyone to create a ministry to experience Christ, creation, and community through camp and retreat ministries.

Pastors Amber Laffey and Tia Felberg are answering that call through a friendly competition. Pastor Amber brought a group to the confirmation camp at Lake Poinsett recently. She learned about an item on the Lake Poinsett Camp and Retreat Center’s wish list: life jackets. She knew that members of the congregation where she serves, Alexandria United Methodist Church, have a heart for collecting needed things. 

“It was really my husband Tyler’s idea to encourage donations through a friendly competition,” said Pastor Amber. “I connected with Tia to see if the churches she serves might be up for the challenge.”

Pastor Tia Felberg serves the United Methodist congregations in DeSmet and Iroquois, South Dakota. “I was all in,” said Pastor Tia. “The timing was right because we had Camp Sunday approaching.”

The challenge is to see who could get the most funds or purchase more life jackets. Each of the congregations was invited to buy the life jackets online or share a cash donation for the life jackets. 

“Lake Poinsett set up a way for people to order life jackets through Amazon,” describes Pastor Amber. “Churches have already been giving towards the need. But 150 life jackets remain to meet the need.”

Christy Heflin, director at Lake Poinsett, reports that First United Methodist Church in Yankton was the first to give to the life jacket campaign. "Tiffany Beste called me to say they had some mission money and was there something specific we needed. I said right away, 'life jackets.' Their church immediately ordered our first 36," said Heflin. "I decided if they could do it, so could others, so I posted something on facebook and then others joined in the giving too including Faulkton UMC, 4-H, now DeSmet UMC, Iroquis UMC, and Alexandria UMC. It is so exciting. We already have decided a new campaign for next year—disc golf frisbees!"

Camp Sunday

Top, Pastor Amber, left, listen while youth share their camp stories during Camp Sunday at Alexandria UMC. Bottom, Christy Heflin, LPC leads Camp Sunday at Iriquois UMC. Photos courtesy of Amber Laffey and Tia Felber.

Alexandria UMC, DeSmet UMC, and Iroquois UMC wrapped up the challenge with Camp Sunday. Camp Sunday is a special day set apart for your congregation to celebrate the ministry of camping together. Congregations celebrate with camp-themed worship, music, and testimonials on the personal impact of camp. In-person worship can include decorating the church in a camp theme, special snacks or meals, and time to share information on registrations and the church’s local financial support for camps. Many congregations invite camp staff, and past campers—children, youth, or adults, to share what they love about camp.

Who won the challenge? Well, the total gifts are still being tallied. However, the physical reward for the winner will likely be some used trophy from someone’s closet. “I’ll look around and see if I can find a trophy,” said Pastor Tia. 

April 30 Eb Insta

Graphic from Dakotas-Minnesota Camp and Retreat Ministry.

The real reward is sharing the love of Christ through the Dakotas Camp and Retreat Ministry. Pastors Amber and Tia said, “We are not worried about who wins or loses. It’s all about serving. We know that a lot of churches do something like volunteer, purchase items on the wish lists, for our camps. But wouldn’t it be great if every church stepped up to the challenge?”

Many churches and individuals throughout the Dakotas Conference provide gifts and volunteer at the three United Methodists camps at Lake Poinsett, Storm Mountain, and Wesley Acres. View the gift wish lists for each of the camps:
Lake Poinsett Camp and Retreat Center
Storm Mountain Center
Wesley Acres Camp and Retreat Center

Registration is open for 2023. The Early Bird registration deadline for Dakotas United Methodist camps is approaching soon. Register for camp by April 30, 2023, to earn a discount of $5 per night off the cost of camp. Visit for more information or to register today!


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 (1).jpeg 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