Camp Work Days

Hello Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry supporters!

Click here for information about your 2017 Camp Work Days.  Please share the information with your congregation members and encourage them to participate.  Work Day not only helps get the camp ready for the summer, but it is a great opportunity to get to know others who love camp too!

We have been so blessed in recent years with the response at our work days!  So much work has been done and some major projects have been completed. 

As you make plans to join us this year, we invite you to consider applying for a Thrivent Action Team. Action Teams can be used to cover the cost of camp projects, but can also be used to pay for gas to allow more volunteers to join us on these important days.  Contact the VLM office or visit and click “Making a Difference” to learn more. 

We also invite you to help camp go green! You can help us save energy and money by bringing 4 LED light bulbs to replace all of our incandescent bulbs. Not only do we save money by needing to replace fewer light bulbs throughout the year, but we also receive a rebate from Lake Country Power for each LED we use!

Click here for the enclosed list of projects and tasks, and contact our Site Directors (Kirk and Tavis) with specific questions about how you can help get behind all that needs to be completed at both sites.

We look forward to seeing you at camp in May!

Joel Abenth, Executive Director



Posé: A pause or rest stop along the Voyageurs' portage trail. Usually about ½ mile apart. We invite you to take a pause in your day to reflect and pray with us.  

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." -Matthew 5:14-16

Does the song This Little Light of Mine ring a bell? "Hide it under a bushel. No! I'm gonna let it shine." We all have this light that Jesus has given us, and we need to share it and let our light shine for others.  In the reading Jesus says to not put your light under a bushel. So how do we share our light?

Think about your light and how we shine for others. What is our bushel basket that is covering up our light? What is going on in each of our lives where we are covering our light? Perhaps it's time, work, money, spending too much time on our phones, or just excuses.

Jesus refers to the light as covered up; it is not referred to as being snuffed out. So even on those days when we do have an excuse, the light continues to burn, no matter what is happening in your world. God is with us no matter what is happening, and whether or not we want God there.

In a world where everything is changing, there is one thing that is constant - the light in us that has always been there. 

Let your light shine, Amen.

-Grant Winter

Camp Vermilion Program Director


Thank you, Andy!

Andy Arola outside.jpg

We are sorry to have to say farewell to Andy Arola as he embarks on a new career in Grand Rapids. Andy has brought energy, humor, and a great love of camp to VLM, first as Camp Vermilion's Site Director and recently as Camp Hiawatha's Site Director. He is known and loved in the area as the host of "Andy's Update" videos, shared on VLM's Facebook page to promote events and share the latest camp news. We will miss Andy greatly, but we're so glad he's staying in the area and look forward to seeing him again soon in God's great northwoods!

Thrivent Choice Deadline - March 31st!

We are blessed to partner with generous and mission-oriented individuals,  congregations, and organizations in our community! This month we lift up our partnership with Thrivent Financial. Last year through Thrivent Choice, Thrivent members gave more than $12,200 to support outdoor ministry at Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion! If you are a Thrivent member we ask you to prayerfully consider allocating your 2016 Thrivent Choice dollars to VLM. Simply visit (by March 31st!) and designated "Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry" as the qualifying organization to make ministry happen here in God's great northwoods!

We paddled and portaged all day and all night!

Canoe Camp at Camp Vermilion

  • Grades 7th & 8th - June 25-30
  • Grades 9th & 12th - July 9-14
  • Grades 5th & 6th - July 16-21

Each day of Canoe Camp includes learning canoeing skills, such as the various canoe strokes and how to stern as well as how to portage and care for your canoe.  Campers will also learn basic map reading and navigation skills.  Overnight camping experiences during the week will teach campers how to set up a campsite and prepare your meals "on the trail", both over the fire and using a simple trail stove. 

In addition to these intentional learning times, the week also includes many favorite camp activities, such as games, campfire, swimming, and more!

The 5th and 6th grade program will be an introduction to canoeing and camping, and include an overnight experience at Camp Vermilion as well as day canoeing trips on Lake Vermilion. The 7th and 8th grade program will go a bit deeper into canoeing and camping skills, and include an off-site, overnight canoe trip. The Sr. High program involves a three night trip to the Boundary Waters with two of our staff, including a trained Canoe Country guide.

For more information contact Grant Winter, or click here to sign up online!

VLM is Seeking Year-round Kitchen Help!

Join us in providing a welcoming environment for Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion guests, volunteers, and summer campers! 

We have part-time positions available during the school year with an opportunity for more full-time work during the summer months.  We have immediate openings at both camps, though applicants can specify their preference for one site or the other.

Tasks include assisting with all aspects of food service, such as menu planning, food ordering, maintaining sanitary facilities and some team supervision. Experience in cooking and serving meals for 25-100+ and team management is helpful. See a basic job description here

Interested individuals should complete this application.  Questions?  Contact Gretchen at 218-780-4116 or

Annual Meeting Sat. Feb. 4

Your voice matters! Join us Saturday, February 4 in the Voyageur Lodge (the new dining hall) at Camp Vermilion for VLM's 2016 Annual Meeting. We'll review the year and look ahead to upcoming projects and programs. Registration begins at 10:30am. The meeting will start at 11am, followed by lunch and fellowship. 

Click here for directions to Camp Vermilion

Please RSVP by calling 218-666-5465 or email vlm@VLMcamps.orgWe hope you can join us!

Pancake Breakfasts at Camp Vermilion

This winter and spring you are invited to Pancake breakfast each month in the Voyageur Lodge (new dining hall) at Camp Vermilion! Enjoy all you can eat pancakes and check out the new building.  Coffee and hot cocoa will be available into the afternoon for those interested in bringing their sleds, snowshoes or cross country skis and enjoying some winter fun in God's great northwoods.

Sunday pancake brunches  at Camp Vermilion

  • Sunday, February 19 10am-1pm
  • Sunday, March 19 10am-1pm
  • Sunday, April 23rd 10am-1pm

$5 per person (kids under 12 are free)

Look for more information this spring about a special Mother's Day brunch buffet Sunday, May 14!


Posé: A pause or rest stop along the Voyageurs' portage trail. Usually about ½ mile apart. We invite you to take a pause in your day to reflect and pray with us.  

New Year, Same God

O LORD, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.  You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.  Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely.  You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.  - Psalm 139:1-6

I'll admit to getting caught up in the "new" of the new year - making promises to exercise vigorously 4-5 times during the week, to cut out processed foods, to meditate for 20 minutes a day, to take time to actually write cards to people for the heck of it.  If I work hard enough, then my future will be better and brighter, right?  Maybe. 

The psalmist appears to be writing the psalm above at the end of his life.  He has walked with God and is intimately aware of God's presence in his life.  Nothing is foreign to God, in fact, God searches this psalmist out to be with him.  God's presence in this guy's life is so constant and elaborate that it almost feels overwhelming.  We always seem to want new things and new starts but the beauty of this passage is that God is like an old friend, and out of that strong history and faithfulness comes every hope and courage and "newness" for the present and future.  God knows us.  God knows you - all of you - and chooses to seek you out and be with you in a real way.  Can this be too wonderful?  You bet!  

Father, you have searched me and know me.  Make your home in me that I may always live in you.  Let me trust where you lead me and take joy in your purposes for you are altogether too wonderful for me.  Amen.   

Faithful travels everyone, 

Pastor Lisa Buchanan 

Bethany Lutheran Church in Deer River

VLM Camp Pastor 2010-2011

*Reprinted from The Knapsack Jan. 5, 2012

Camp Sundays - reserve your spot today!

It's not too late to schedule a Camp Sunday or Camp Wednesday in your congregation! The VLM staff would love to come to your church. We can provide pulpit supply, share a children's messsage, give temple talks, lead games or activities, and work with your camp delegates and camp team to help share the camp story! Email Gretchen ( or call 218.780.4116 to reserve your spot today!

And heaven and nature sing!

Click the collage above to view more photos from this wonderful event!

Click the collage above to view more photos from this wonderful event!

Thanks be to God for a beautiful (though frigid!) Sunday afternoon at Camp Hiawatha for the Celebration of Light and Music last month! We thank the dozens of hands who helped bring the event together and all of the people who joined for this inter-generational and festive celebration! We hope you, too, can join us next year! 

Seeking Applicants for CV Site Director

Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry is seeking qualified applicants for a new Site Director at Camp Vermilion. 

The Site Director will be the main caretaker for the property, facilities, and volunteers at Camp Vermilion; a beautiful 360-acre forested camp and retreat facility with nearly 3,000-feet of Lake Vermilion shoreline.  The site hosts a Lutheran summer residential youth program, is a base for fully guided canoe trip programs in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and operates a year-round retreat and rental facility.

Please share the job description (available here) with qualified candidates, who should send a resume and 2 references before November 20th to:

Joel Abenth

Executive Director - Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry

2555 Vermilion Camp Road

Cook, MN55723


Match to the Max

Give to the Max is just a few weeks away, and we need your help to rally the VLM community! This year we are inviting everyone to share images of their favorite places and spaces at camp. We hope you, too, will scroll through your albums and photo files for your favorite camp pictures. Email them to Gretchen and follow VLM on social media as we post them each day leading up to Nov. 17 and throughout Give to the Max!

We're also challenging the VLM community to make your match. We invite you to find someone (or 2, 5, 10... however many people!) to individually or as a group match your "Give to the Max" gift. Simply share your #whyVLMcamps story with your friends and family (whether or not they are already connected to VLM!) along with our GiveMN link and invite them to be part of your match. Through your outreach, more people will be invited to be part of the excitement and will understand why it really is great to be alive in God's great northwoods!


Posé: A pause or rest stop along the Voyageurs' portage trail. Usually about ½ mile apart. We invite you to take a pause in your day to reflect and pray with us.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2

This is one of my favorite scriptures to think about when I think of all those who have gone before me, supported me and will come behind me in faith. As I think of my own "cloud of witnesses" I can't help but not think about camp. I have been fortunate enough to have worked at several different camps on summer staffs through high school and college and had a career as a Program Director for 6 ½ years. They all hold very special places in my heart and in my life story. Camp Vermilion and Camp Hiawatha have their own spots in my life, too.

I recently attended a gathering of some woman (from another camp) this fall. It was such great food for the soul, to be surrounded by these women. We shared old camp stories, impressed by the details of memory of some, we updated each other on our current lives, shared pain and joys, and ate and drank, and prayed. There is no other group I have found like it to be a part of. I know that many people feel that way about their relationships they formed at camp.

The cloud of camp witnesses is thick. Even when I meet someone for the first time, if I find out they ever worked at one of the same camps I did or attended the same camp I did as child, there's an instant bond. There is something about that particular cloud of witnesses that surpasses almost any others. There are lots of fun things about camp, canoeing, hiking, the cabin, rainy days, games, worship, etc. But it's the relationships that really make it formative. I give thanks to God for every relationship that has helped me to grow in Christ, to help me discover gifts within myself, and help tend to my soul. Amen.

-Kim Hovde Suhr
Diaconal Minister for Community and Lifelong Discipleship
Ezekial Lutheran Church in River Falls, WI
MDiv student at Luther Seminary
Wife to Roger and Mom to two preschoolers Elijah and Emilyn

VLM Summer Staff '93 and '94

Camp Vermilion Beach Renovation

Work continued this fall on Camp Vermilion's Waterfront Restoration Project thanks to an anonymous gift and the support and labor of volunteers like Glen Arola and Hugh Etter. Much work has been completed since McKenzie was moved up to the Hillside last spring. A new cement pad for the west dock was poured, rocks were re-positioned along the water's edge to create separate swimming and canoe launching areas, a lifeguard stand was built and installed, and a new rock retaining wall was just completed this October! In the spring we will tackle the final stages of the project, including a new entrance with stairs leading directly to the beach area.

Book your next get-away at camp!

To live as people of God in this world, we need to get away and grow together, united as we learn and play in God's creation.  Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry invites you to get away to camp this winter! 

Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion offer meeting space, overnight accommodations, and food service, making camp a great place to hold your next youth group retreat, crafting getaway, church council meeting, book club conversation, fishing weekend, or family reunion.

There are still open weeks and weekends in the calendar at both Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion this fall, winter, and spring! Email the VLM office or call 800.331.5148 to book your event or to receive more information.

Click to view our  2016 pricing information.

Celebration of Light & Music - Dec. 11

Sunday, December 11, 2016 at Camp Hiawatha, 2:00 to 7:00 p.m.
We hope you can join us for an afternoon of fellowship, holiday fare, winter activities, and celebrating the season of Advent.  There is something for all ages as we gather in community to prepare our hearts for the coming Christ child.  We invite you to participate in all or part of this day.

Activities for the day include sleigh rides, food demonstrations, crafts, cookie decorating, hymn sing, worship, and a festive holiday meal.  It's a great event for all ages!

Cost: $5 per person for the afternoon activities ($15 family maximum)

Meal: $10 for adults, $5 ages 6-11, free under 5 years.

Schedule of Events

2:00-4:30 - Sleigh rides, Ethnic food demonstrations and samples, cookie decorating, Advent crafts, conversation and fellowship

4:30 - Holiday Hymn sing

5:00 - Worship Service

6:00 - Festive Holiday Dinner

Please contact VLM at or 218-666-5465 to RSVP by Dec. 5.


This year as we count down to the "great Minnesota give-together" Thursday, November 17, we're asking the VLM community to think about and share their answers to this very important question: Why VLM?

Why do you celebrate, participate, and give to support the mission and ministries of Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion? How have these places and programs shaped you? Why is summer camp important for youth and adults? What is it about camp that makes it such a special place?

Email, tweet, or post your responses on our Facebook page using the hashtag #WhyVLMcamps And follow along with us throughout November as we share your responses and post pictures of your favorite spots around Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion! See you online!This year as we count down to the "great Minnesota give-together" Thursday, November 17, we're asking the VLM community to think about and share their answers to this very important question: Why VLM?

"Watch them Flourish" Update

Great (and visible!) progress can be seen at Camp Vermilion's Dining Hall and Retreat Center thanks to the generous donations of time, labor, and resources from so many people in the VLM community! The flooring in the bedrooms and bathrooms is complete, most of the bunk beds have been built thanks to volunteers from First Lutheran Church in Duluth, and the wooden window trim was installed over the last few weeks thanks to volunteers from Faith United Lutheran Church in Iron and Greg Hanson, the Thrivent Rep. from Silver Bay. The window treatments downstairs have all been installed thanks to volunteers from Roseville Lutheran Church as part of a Thrivent Action Team led by Rich and Vivian Straumann, and most of the interior doors have been hung.

We still need to lay the flooring in the main downstairs hallway, install the paneling in the stairwell, hang the exterior siding, and finish building the furniture for the gathering space. Please let us know if you are interested in volunteering! Simply contact Andy at 218-666-5465 or email