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Serving God at camp: Rev. Paul and Brenda Lint's ministry at Wesley Acres

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communications, Dakotas UMC

Rev. Paul and Brenda Lint

Rev. Paul and Brenda Lint will transition from Directors at Wesley Acres Camp and Retreat Center to serving Spearfish UMC. Photo by Dave Stucke.

"The purpose of any ministry is to express God's love and to experience God's love. Every day is a beautiful kind of ministry. Even if you have to climb into the sewer to clean out a clog at Wesley Acres," said Rev. Paul Lint, co-director with his wife, Brenda, at Wesley Acres Camp and Retreat Center.

Since 2016, Brenda and Rev. Paul Lint have welcomed campers and guest groups to Wesley Acres Camp and Retreat Center. This summer, they will transition from ministry as camp directors to serving in ministry at the United Methodist Church in Spearfish, South Dakota.

"Paul and Brenda have been outstanding leaders at Wesley Acres and as part of our Dakotas-Minnesota Camp and Retreat Leadership team. I'm sad to see the Lints move on as our directors at Wesley Acres Camp—WAC, but I celebrate the ways their ministry impacted the hearts and lives of campers, staff, volunteers, and guests over the years," said Keith Shew, Dakotas-Minnesota Area Director for Camp and Retreat Ministries.

The United Methodist camping ministry has been an integral part of their lives. Throughout their lives, they have served as campers, summer staff, camp deans, and directors. Paul and Brenda have been going to camp at Wesley Acres since they were children.

"There are pictures of me being held in my mom's arms as a baby at camp," said Paul. "I don't think I've missed a single summer of being at Wesley Acres my whole life."

"Both of us came to Wesley Acres as campers. At the age of 10, or fourth grade, was my first year of camp. I worked here [WAC] when I was 15, helping at Circle of Friends camp. I came back year after year. Even when we weren't working here, we would come back and lead a camp or two," shared Brenda. "I've known a lot of the same campers since 1989 who are getting a little up there in age now."

The Lints have accomplished much during their eight years as directors of Wesley Acres. Highlights include leading the camp to achieve accreditation through the American Camp Association, constructing a suspension bridge linking the main camp to the adventure challenge area, and constructing a large ADA-accessible deck and entry ramp to the chapel. There have also been critical repairs and updates to the camp's high ropes course and training protocols. Countless repairs and improvements to WAC's infrastructure have happened under the Lint's ledership.  

The most significant contribution has been their positive impact on the hearts and lives of campers and staff the Lints have worked with as directors.

"If you've had a chance to work alongside Brenda and Paul, you know exactly what this means and feels like," said Keith. "They care so deeply about the Dakotas-Minnesota Camp and Retreat Ministries' mission of sharing Christ, Creation, and Community. Paul and Brenda live out this mission daily with campers, staff, volunteers, and guests."

The Lints note that the partnerships and relationships are impactful and passionate to their ministry at WAC.

"Building those relationships with our staff and campers has been such a positive experience," said Pastor Paul Lint. "It is great to see guest groups and campers who are repeat visitors. The volunteers who continually show up to do projects and bless us are awesome!"

Wac Circle Of Friends

Camp staff at WAC assist one of the Circle of Friends campers in the heated outdoor pool.

A group that has returns annually to Wesley Acres is the North Dakota Association for the Blind.

"We have been able to work with them on group building and leadership opportunities. They step outside their comfort zone. They are willing to try things and adventure—kayaking, canoeing, or the high ropes course," said Brenda Lint. "A lot of people that are fully able to see struggle with those things. Many of the guests from the North Dakota Association for the Blind are nearly blind. It is impressive that they are willing to try adventures. The communication skills we've been able to work on, the relationships we've built, and the trust they have had to put in us as we have facilitated those events is just wonderful!"

In 2023, Wesley Camps was named one of "America's Best Summer Camps" by Newsweek magazine.  

Shew notes, "This distinction is in large part due to Paul and Brenda's leadership!"  

The experience at Wesley Acres is like no other. "I think you experience a quiet place that really is away from your normal. In some ways, you disconnect in a way that is very special," said Brenda. "We hope that people who come here experience a genuine welcome and hospitality. They feel love and care from the staff who are here. The people who return want that same experience for others."

Wac High Ropes

Campers on the high ropes course at Wesley Acres.

The setting and the activities are inviting. "You drive across the prairie and then suddenly drop down into this gorgeous valley. It's like, 'Wow, this is a different world.' You experience that in an authentic way," said Paul. "The outdoor experiences that you can have at Wesley Acres are unique. There are not a lot of heated outdoor pools in the Dakotas. It's nice to be able to come and spend time out at the pool. Bring your youth group, business group, or employees. Come and experience the ropes course. You can grow together. I think it's pretty amazing."

The Lints will stay on as site directors through the beginning of summer, providing oversight to camp operations, continuing to prepare for the 2024 camping season, and training the new camp director.

"Their goal is to help make the transition as smooth as possible and to help reduce any strain or loss of momentum on Wesley Acres' operations and planning," Keith said. "Paul and Brenda love the camping ministry. I have no doubt that they will continue to be part of the programming at camps moving forward. They will be missed in their roles by many."

Brenda and Paul explain how they will stay connected to Dakotas United Methodist Camps and Wesley Acres as they prepare for the transition. 

"We will find opportunities to come and be a part of the ministry," shared Paul and Brenda. "We will definitely be a part of the support team in whatever way there is a need. We will pray for them, love and care for them, and support them in their ministry."

A national search is underway to fill the position of Site Director at Wesley Acres. Applications will be accepted through March 22, and the projected start date is mid- to late May. View additional information and application instructions.  


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