Summer Camp through a Pandemic
"Though the world has changed a lot, the reality is we have what we need and so much more."
The Junior Counselor program at Camp Luther, in Three Lakes, WI, was established in 1975 with a clear priority of helping youth grow in servant leadership. In 2020, the loss of summer camp was a blow to the 60 Junior Counselors who were selected through a competitive process to serve at Camp Luther. This was Julia’s last year in high school and last year as a Junior Counselor before entering Concordia University in the fall. This was not the only disappointment for Julia that year—it was followed by a flurry of cancellations, which included the SAT and a school trip.
In mid-August, Julia received a package from Camp Luther, which underscored the continued presence of the healing hand of Christ during a time of uncertainty and hurt. “I was so thrilled to see Julia open that box in mid-August. Camp Luther's staff had to reinvent how they do camp, yet they found time to connect and make these summer volunteers feel special,” said Julia’s mother, Michelle. Included in that box was the book “Following: 31 Verses Every Teenager Should Know,” a sticker with the word “Home” on it (Julia and Michelle use that word to describe Camp Luther to others), an encouraging personalized letter filled with blessings for Julia, a camp treat, and a blank postcard for her to write to another fellow Junior Counselor.
With no youth attending summer camp in 2020, Camp Luther was forced to find creative ways to ensure that its beautiful 91 acres in the north woods did not become a ghost town. “Family glamping” was introduced as an innovative way to bring people to camp while maintaining social distancing requirements. Cabins in five themed villages including Fort Village, Noah’s Ark, and Pioneer Village, were made available to individual families. Activities included biking, canoeing, swimming, crafting, devotions, archery, hiking, and relaxing by the campfire.
A chaplain for a hospital in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area reflected on his family’s getaway to Camp Luther: “Though the world has changed a lot, the reality is we have what we need and so much more. There was a lot of gratitude when we came back home.” One of his six children added, “There’s nothing that’s not fun at camp. It took our mind off everything around us because we were just having fun the whole time!”
In the seven decades since it was founded, it was a year like no other at Camp Luther. Despite this, families were able to know and experience Camp Luther where everyone can experience the joy of knowing Jesus, a purposeful life, and lifelong friendships.
Camp Luther will continue to cultivate future leaders of the church and offer Christian education programs for youth, families, church groups, and seniors. In 2021, about 60 junior counselors will serve and grow as leaders at camp, 1,100 youth will attend summer camp, and 160 families may be spotted camping by the fireside!
Learn more about Camp Luther.
while Sharing the Gospel
of Jesus Christ
By funding high-performing Lutheran-affiliated schools and other education programs that provide children and youth in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities a path to Christ-centered academic success, empowerment, and hope for themselves and future generations.
as the Hands and Feet
By supporting effective strategies at Lutheran churches and church-affiliated organizations to meet the basic short-term needs of disadvantaged people, to create pathways toward greater self-sufficiency and empowerment for all people.