Camp Lutherhaven celebrates its 75th anniversary
By Taylor Shillam
Photo Courtesy of Lutherhaven Ministries
The values behind Lutherhaven Ministries are built on connection: with new friends, with loved ones, with life’s purpose, and with God. Since 1946, tens of thousands have been campers at Lutherhaven, forging meaningful relationships and creating life-changing memories while immersed in North Idaho’s natural beauty.
This year, Lutherhaven celebrates 75 years of inclusivity, growth, friendship, play and praise. They proudly welcome “every camper of every age and every ability” to their summer camps, seasonal events and year-round retreats.
“If you take a walk through the beautiful 60-acre forest of Camp Lutherhaven, on the shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene, and ask some passerby what they love most about this camp, they’ll likely say something along the lines of, ‘This is my happy place! The lake, the woods, the cabins, the people,’” said Nicole Duke, marketing and development associate for Lutherhaven Ministries. “But then they’d pause to contemplate, before adding, ‘What makes this space most special is it’s where I feel closest to God.’”
Lutherhaven was founded when a group of men from different Spokane-area churches and different Lutheran denominations organized themselves into the Spokane Lutheran Men’s Club for the purpose of “working together, singing, eating and enjoying Christian fellowship.”
When a club member presented an opportunity to purchase property in a centralized location on Lake Coeur d’Alene, the group took the opportunity to gather support from Lutheran churches across the Inland Empire.
Five families invested 50 dollars each to purchase those 12 acres on Mica Bay and make Camp Lutherhaven a reality. Their vision was to create a sacred space of respite for families as service members returned from world war.
Now, Lutherhaven Ministries has been serving the Inland Northwest communities for 75 years, and remains committed to being a safe, happy, faith-nurturing haven for everyone. Its mission, to encounter creation, create community and commune with Christ, has been shared among generations of campers.
“Lutherhaven has never belonged to a single person or entity; this sacred space is your space, here to serve the community,” Duke said.
While the organization is historically Lutheran, they emphasize that all are welcome. The services and events offered at Lutherhaven Ministries’ various properties are diverse, to offer something for every age and every member of the family.
Their properties host events for families, schools, churches, businesses and other community groups, with a wide selection of spaces available to rent including private cabins, treehouses, yurts, tent and RV spaces, all accompanied by full dining services.
Further emphasizing inclusivity, Lutheran Ministries stays committed to ensuring no camper is ever turned away due to financial reasons. Over 63 percent of campers attend free or at reduced costs each year.
This year, Camp Lutherhaven is thrilled to be back after 2020’s widespread cancellations of gatherings, events, outdoor dining and more.
“COVID decimated outdoor ministries around the world,” Duke shared. “Nationwide, 333,000 overnight campers, 30,000 day campers and 13,000 summer staff missed out on summer camp.” She reported Lutherhaven’s partner camps around the U.S. had lost a combined total of over $260 million in revenue last year, with thousands of jobs eliminated.
Like many organizations across the world, it was one of the toughest years Lutherhaven Ministries had ever faced, but they returned to the summer of 2021 with nothing but hope. “Lutherhaven pulled through with resiliency, community and optimism to not just survive, but thrive,” Duke said.
They plan to continue serving others for another 75 years, and beyond. They have already set an expansion in motion.
Camp Lutherhaven will soon break ground on a new 8,000-square-foot retreat center overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene. The retreat center will offer eight bedrooms with full bathrooms for family and adult retreats, with accommodations for at least 16 to 32 people, and the opportunity for more. It will serve as an adult and family “renewal center,” and will be divided into three living spaces, allowing the option for one large group or three separate, smaller gatherings.
Between Camp Lutherhaven on the lake, Shoshone Mountain Retreat and Ranch up the river, the new McPherson Meadows on Tepee Creek, and Idaho Servant Adventures and Lutherhaven Day Camps, Lutherhaven Ministries offers year-round opportunities for campers of all ages.
Their seasonal events include spring and fall quilting retreats, the Deck the Halls Family Winter Retreat and Valentine’s getaways, with family cabin rentals, school and outdoor education weeks and more available to the community throughout the calendar year.
Shoshone Mountain Retreat and Ranch is located on the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River and offers horseback trail riding in the summer. North of the ranch, McPherson Meadows takes visitors 20 miles off-grid to experience a wilderness retreat at the Renner House, a fully furnished space with a full kitchen space, meeting area, and accommodations for almost 30 guests.
In celebration of reaching 75 summers, Camp Lutherhaven will host a celebration on Saturday, September 25. Attendees are promised a lively celebration with music, food, activities and worship. The event lasts noon to 4pm, and all are invited to share in the festivities. Online RSVPs are required.
“It’s great to be back,” Duke said, reflecting on challenges of the last year. This summer, Lutherhaven’s camp programs are fully open, filled to capacity, and with a few simple health-conscious protocols, are packed with all the fun of the traditional camps they’re known and loved for.
For more information or to get involved, visit Lutherhaven.com.