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Places where service and camping intersect

Campers doing service work

Lake Louise will host a spring Volunteer Service Weekend, April 26-28, and two new summer camp options that combine the best parts of a mission trip and a camp week.

Director of Camping and Outreach, Lake Louise Christian Community Camp & Retreat Center

Last year, Lake Louise Christian Community started something new. In April 2023, we hosted Make a Difference Day on a Saturday during a Volunteer Service Weekend. Most camps have work days in the spring and fall to help get ready for the changing seasons, but we wanted to do something beyond our camp boundaries.

Young people involved in a service project.
Youth and adults from the Central Bay District organized a visit from Midwest Mission so they could pack rice meals during their Boyne Country Service Week in 2023. ~ photo courtesy Lake Louise Christian Community Camp & Retreat Center

Twenty-three people of all ages responded to the April invitation to serve alongside Lake Louise staff. They came from Jackson, Marshall, Holland, Mt. Clemens, Greenville, and around Thumb Lake. We had crews planting trees, cleaning up a stretch of US-131, redefining a trail through the woods, and preparing a community garden. Over 1,000 white pine trees and 200 assorted hemlock, spruce, and walnut trees were planted strategically around our extended property. The path through the woods has helped residents and campers enjoy more of the environment around camp. The community garden produced green beans that we gave to the Boyne Valley Food Pantry. Throughout the remainder of the weekend, we finished projects at camp, like installing paver stones, relocating picnic tables, and securing our fire bowl seats, and spent time in worship and fellowship.

This experience made us think about what else could be done at the intersection of camping and service. We will host another Volunteer Service Weekend from April 26-28, 2024. A $75 fee covers food and lodging. The registration deadline is April 15. Click here to register for this spring service and camping weekend.

But there’s something new we’d like to offer our youth this summer. Lake Louise has hosted the Boyne Country Service Project since its inception in 2013. Teams from churches come to stay at camp and provide much-needed help for homeowners and social service agencies. Summer youth mission trips are pretty common, but what if your church doesn’t organize for mission that way? What if there are too few young people at your church to be a group? What if your teens are in sixth grade, and finding a place to take them is difficult?

To address this gap in need, we are starting two Service/Camps for youth in grades 6-12. With one week for middle schoolers and another for high schoolers, we hope that young people with a servant’s heart might come to camp to develop their leadership skills and lend a hand to projects at camp and in our surrounding cottager community. When not completing projects, they will participate in worship, small group discussions, and all the fun things Lake Louise offers.

The High School Service/Camp will coincide with our Middle School Camp, and the Middle School Service/Camp will happen alongside our LIFE Camp for high school youth, with the idea that a family with children in these two age ranges might send them to camp the same week. Click here to learn more about these summer camp offerings. Rev. John Murray, a veteran of other high school camps, will be the “crew boss” for the high school week, with paid camp staff filling in where needed both weeks. Volunteer cabin counselors will stay with the campers and serve alongside them.

A primary focus of the service work will be establishing new trails on the 2,500 acres surrounding the camp. We have received a grant of $5,000 from Benevity that, when added to funds from the Lake Louise Changing Lives Capital Campaign, will be used to make the woods more accessible to hikers. During those weeks, we’ll also respond to the needs of older adults living around Thumb Lake and tackle other projects at camp. We think blending the best parts of a mission trip and a camp week will satisfy the desire for both.

Do you have questions? Please get in touch with me at 231-549-2728 or [email protected].

Last Updated on February 13, 2024

The Michigan Conference