Camp Vermilion Program Director Opening

Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry is now accepting resumes for the position of Camp Vermilion Program Director.  The job description, including qualifications for applicants, can be found here.

Resumes and inquiries can be sent to Gretchen Bachman, Director of Operations at or 36944 Camp Hiawatha Road, Deer River, MN 56636.

We will be accepting resumes until November 20.

Thank you, Mev and Grant



To our VLM Family -

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We are sad to say that our time with VLM has come to an end. While the opportunity to live here is not something that can be overlooked - after all, it isgreat to be alive in God's great northwoods - it is our work with and for the ministry that made this time worthwhile. 

It has been our joy to serve this ministry, and while we may be leaving, our time and memories from the past 3 ½ years are ones we will cherish for a lifetime. From the moment we arrived, we have felt a part of this greater community. Three days after we arrived with our moving truck, we were at Our Savior's in Hibbing for a church Sunday. From that first church Sunday through each visit after, from summer camp to year-round retreats, each opportunity we had to spend time with you was another memory we take with us. So while we may be leaving Minnesota, we are taking VLM with us.

Many blessings to you all,

Grant & Mev


We thank Grant and Mev for their ministry over the last 3 1/2 years. They brought many new ideas, creativity, and laughter to VLM and will be missed. We wish them well on their next adventure!

Three Days of Giving!

Three Days of Giving

September 15th - The $10,000 match that was available in September has been met!  To date we have received over $15,500!  Thanks to an anonymous donor we have had great start to our Three Days of Giving.

New Match opportunities made available for VLM:

Another $10,000 in additional dollar for dollar match is available for gifts made online on Thursday October 19th. To be eligible for the match and to double your gift, give online at

Special thanks to the donors who came together to make this happen:  

Mark and Sally Ludlow of Lake Vermilion. Two anonymous donors including one who wants to lift up the Blood Stripe movie and the work they are doing for Veterans. And from the estate of Louise Hill, former VLM Board President, who passed away in August.

Thank you for making camp happen! 


November 16th - GiveMN Give to the Max Day!

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An additional $20,000 has been offered by an anonymous donor who loves to see people support God's mission at Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion.  Give to Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry on November 16th on our our websiteor GiveMN page and double your dollars.  Gifts received that day at the VLM office and marked "GTMD" will be eligible for the match as well. 

That's $40,000 in total matching dollars given to sustain ministry and make camp happen in God's great northwoods.  See what three days of giving can do to encourage faith in kids.  Thank you!


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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, ponder, and pray with us.  

 "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God- not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life." -Ephesians 2: 8-10

We were built for this! Living intentionality within the grace of God.

I completed my 3 month sabbatical on October 1st. It was a wonderful time of renewal and reflection. I was also able to spend some time doing things that I don't normally have time to do. My family and I went on a family vacation out west. I did a lot more gardening than I normally get to do in the summer. I also spent some time at North House Folk School volunteering.

The world moves so fast around us. It is easy to get lost if we are not intentional. The whole summer could have very easily gone by just sitting on the couch eating chips and watching my favorite shows. Although, there was some of that - it was rest as well!  Early on, I looked at my three months time and laid out some plans. Some were intentionally detailed, like laying out gardens as well as designing and building a tree house for my children. Some were intentionally wide open. When my family and I left for our trip out west, we had no plans of when we would return or even a route planned - it was very hard for this executive! But I was intentional in saving blocks of time for things I wanted to accomplish. I made lists. I was intentional. I was focused. And things got done.  

The second chapter of Ephesians reminds how grace is intentional, that it is for us and it is not the result of anything that we did or can do. Often I have ended there. Washed by the wonderful and intentional grace of God reaching out to me, I forget that because of this wonderful gift I get to go out and respond. 

"For we are what God made us"

We are sent out to be that grace for others. We were built for this! These verses are our instruction manual for family, for community, and for ministry. We are "created in Christ Jesus for good works". This is intentional ministry that we are called into and get to be part of - the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

While at the folk school, I learned a lot - timber framing, baking in a wood-fired oven, and black ash basket weaving - hopefully we can do more of these things at camp now! It is wonderful to bring something like scraps of wood together to make a beautiful and functional basket. Like that sturdy and useful basket, so too are we all gathered together and built to do useful things. Lee Dybvig, our master paddle builder at camp tells everyone who crafts a bent-shaft paddle that, "this is not meant to sit on a mantle. This creation is meant to be put to work." It is time that we are intentional as we get to work sharing God's grace. 


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See you at camp, 
Joel Abenth
Executive Director, VLM


Our world can use a little bit more of what we were built for - living and sharing God's grace.

YourStory Retreat Series


A series of weekend retreats at Camp Vermilion

November - February - April - Summer


An Overview of the Series

YourStory 1: It's My Life

November 10th-12th
What are your stories? What do your stories and experiences say about you? Andy Mork will be guiding participants with questions designed to help you document your own stories.


YourStory 2: Changing My Story

February 2nd-4th

This session will explore when some familiar biblical characters faced challenges and adversity. How do I respond to tough situations? Who are the people that give me support in challenging times? How can I discern between symptoms and problems in challenges to recognize recurring patterns? 


YourStory 3: Characters in Conflict

April 27th-29th

This session will explore when some familiar biblical characters faced conflicts with people. It will focus on how we handle conflict. How do I respond to conflict with friends? Family? Wh

at impact do I have on people around me when there is conflict? Am I a peacemaker, peace faker, or peace breaker? 


YourStory 4: Making Ripples

Summer 2018 - TBD

This is a retreat for YourStory alumni! Anyone who attended at least one YourStory retreat. Participants are welcome to bring family to Camp Vermilion. It will include days of swimming, enjoying Lake Vermilion in many memorable ways, delicious meals, and time for stories. 




Each weekend will be led by Andy Mork



Reformation Fest!

Reformation Fest - Camp Vermilion

Saturday, October 28 - 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Come for part or all of this fun festival. All are welcome!

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Join us in commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation with a full day of fun - a 5K run/walk, picnic lunch, workshops/conversations, and a (root) beer and hymn sing. 

Registration fee

2k walk/5k run - $20/person or $30/family

Picnic lunch - $5/person; 0 - 3YO eat free!

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*A fundraiser for VLM in partnership with the Lutheran congregations of the Laurentian Conference, NE MN Synod, ELCA. All proceeds support Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry.

RSVPs helpful but not required.

Fall Festival at Camp Hiawatha

Fall Festival

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Fall is a beautiful time to be at camp. We hope you can join us Sunday, October 8th for VLM's annual Fall Festival at Camp Hiawatha. Enjoy the foliage reflecting off Deer Lake, play lawn games, try pumpkin painting and other crafts, and stay for dinner around the campfire. Whether you come as a church group, a family, or an individual... all are welcome! 

 Fees cover all activities and supper. Don't miss out on what is sure to be a great event!

Join us on Sunday, October 8, 2017 at Camp Hiawatha! 

2:00p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Cost: $5 per person with a $20 family maximum

Register by calling the VLM Office at (800) 331-5148 or sending an email today. Hope to see you there!

Instruments of faith

Introducing "Instruments of Faith"

Sunday, October 20 - Tuesday, October 22
at Camp Vermilion

This weekend you are invited to craft your own hand-built instrument, learn about its history, and gather for conversations about faith, God, and life. 

You do not need to be able to play the instrument in order to enjoy creating one! Choose from one of three instruments - a Cigar Box Ukulele, a Hognose Psaltry, or a 4-String Banjo.  Our instructor will guide you step by step, from pieces to a working instrument!

Cost for the retreat is $125, which covers meals and lodging.  Each instrument kit is an additional charge, ranging from $49-$300.  Let us know which instrument you would like to make when you register

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Crafting Retreats

Calling all crafters!

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This fall we are excited to offer two great weekends for all people working on projects or itching to try out something new!

Crafting Weekend

October 13-15, 2017 at Camp Vermilion  

This weekend offers a chance to tackle some of your big crafting projects before the busy holidays! You bring your craft supplies and we'll take care of everything else. There will be focused time to work, nap, read, and enjoy fellowship with other participants. 

Cost: $150, includes food and lodging

D-I-Y Crafting Retreat

November 3-5, 2017 at Camp Vermilion

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Come and bring your projects that you have been working on, or come and learn some new crafts that you can take home! The VLM staff will be leading a few woodworking crafts that you will be able to make, and there will be table space for you to spread out and get your projects done. 

Cost: $150, includes food and lodging. Wood working crafts will range from $10 - $20 per craft.

Click here to register! 


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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, ponder, and pray with us.  

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation."   -Gen 2:1-3

Do you rest well? Seriously...when you have time to rest - do you rest intentionally or do you just try to fill up time with whatever feels good at the moment? The American lifestyle of "work hard, then crash, and work hard again" has been critiqued by our European brothers and sisters. They question why, when we finally have free time, we lay comatose on the couch with our eyes glazed over from watching five straight hours of television. My answer to them - I'm exhausted!

Sometimes I think we forgot our human need for Sabbath, for real rest. We can easily get burnt out from working, from giving, from doing, doing, doing, and think we don't deserve rest or that resting properly takes too much "important time." Notice though, in the first creation story above, God works hard, creating life and order out of chaos for six days. But, on the seventh day, God INTENTIONALLY rests. Resting was part of the plan. Sabbath, as modeled by our Creator (who probably knows what we need rather well) is a time to intentionally be with God and to remember who we are and who God is.

So how do you spend your Sabbath, your day of rest with God? Here are some of my favorites if you need a little help: go for a walk, read a good book, journal, call a friend, daydream, write a letter, meditate, take a nap, play with your kids, spouse, parents, neighbors, etc., make something yummy from scratch, go to church, turn off your cell phone, go on a bike ride, sketch, putz around, savor a hot cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Sabbath isn't about praying all day, but it is about being mindful of all the things God has placed in our lives...and that kind of gratitude might just turn out to feel like an all-day prayer. 

Faithful travels everyone,

Pastor Lisa Buchanan 

Bethany Lutheran Church in Deer River

VLM Camp Pastor 2010-2011
*Reprinted from The Knapsack October 10, 2012

Creator God, I need rest...I need the rest that only you can give. Send your Spirit into my life to carve out Sabbath time. Remind me who I am and help me to stand up for others who need your rest in their life. Amen.

Camp Hiawatha Site Director Needed!

We are now accepting applications for the Site Director position at Camp Hiawatha.  Interested applicants should send a resume and/or completed application to Aaron at Camp Hiawatha by October 1.  

This is a 20-30 hour a week position.  Starting salary commensurate with education and experience. 

See a complete job description or download an application.

Camp at the Course

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September 16, 2017 a the Vermilion Fairways in Cook, MN

Because when it comes to camp, even the serious golfer likes to have fun!

Camp at the Course in 2017 includes:

  • 18 holes of golf
  • catered dinner
  • drawing for a gas grill
  • connecting with camp friends
  • experiencing a little bit of camp on the golf course!

Your generous support and participation in this event provide a place for kids to explore God's great northwoods, develop lifelong friendships, and build confidence as they grow in the faith in Christ.

Schedule of events:

10:00 am    Check in and early lunch on the grill

11:00 am     Shotgun start (this is a 9 hole course played twice)

4:00 pm     Dinner, camp stories, and maybe even a campfire!


Event Fees: 

$60 - includes greens fee, dinner, and entry into gas grill drawing

$100 Business Sponsor - promotional marketing

$250 Tee Sponsor - one round of golf, tee flag, promotional marketing

$20 Gallery - a relaxing at the course, dinner, and entry into gas grill drawing

Golf cart is not included in any fees.  If cart is needed, please let us know!


Registration Deadline: Friday, September 8

Call 800-331-5148, email, or complete the online form at this link!

Summer Recap

Click here to view more photos from this amazing summer in God's great northwoods!

Click here to view more photos from this amazing summer in God's great northwoods!

What a summer! With camp coming to a close it has been a season to remember. Our summer community was blessed with many new staff members and 10 international staff, all ready for a summer full of adventure and fun.  We played many games, enjoyed hundreds of Grovers, and sang approximately 3000 songs (give or take a few thousand). We also learned a few new life skills through our different "Journeys". Campers learned how to do improv, cook over a fire they built, bake pies, make pottery, build shelters, and hone their canoeing skills, just to name a few.

Highlights at Hiawatha included Hockey Camp and two weeks of Family Camp, at Vermilion we expanded our Canoe Camp Program, welcomed the Rendezvous program back to Vermilion, and guided 28 boundary waters trips into the BWCAW.  Our Day Camps reached out to the communities and congregations that support VLM with countless songs and games with young campers.

All of these programs were possible thanks to the volunteers, Journey leaders, donors, counselors, guides, kitchen crews, and support teams that make camp happen. We thank everyone who gave time to: help drive canoe trips, make meals for day camp, mow the fields, help with healthcare, and all those that were there to lend a hand.  All the campers, groups and families had an experience that you can only have at camp; now we encourage them (and you!) to take the experience and invite others to share in the joy and laughter that is camp. Thanks for a great summer! 


-Grant Winter

Camp Vermilion Program 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, ponder, and pray with us.

Christ's Idea of Leadership

Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?" But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." - Mark 9:33-35

Part of VLM's mission is to provide opportunities for leadership development. As you may have experienced as a camper, staff member or retreat-goer, leadership development happens within a group, usually while doing a task, with follow up discussion and reflection.

Unlike camp, sometimes our culture shows leadership as powerful people squashing others. Once Jesus' disciples realized that Jesus was the Son of God, they thought they would be sitting pretty in glory and honor since they pictured the Holy One of God to be separate and "higher" than everyone else. The disciples expected powerful people like the emperor or local rulers to amass wealth and tell people what to do. But Jesus says, "whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all." Jesus teaches that being a leader does not mean controlling other people, but being their servant. Do you think Jesus lived as a servant of all? 

Holy One, help us see that true power is not found in squashing others, but in serving them. As you heal, feed and save people, strengthen us to be the kind of leaders that look to the needs of others. Amen.

Faithful travels everyone,
Pastor Lisa Buchanan

Bethany Lutheran Church in Deer River

VLM Camp Pastor 2010-2011

*Reprinted from The Knapsack September 28, 2011

Water to Thrive

This summer our Mission Project benefited an organization called Water to Thrive in Austin, Texas. Water to Thrive is a faith-based non-profit dedicated to the mission of bringing clean, safe water to those who need it in rural Africa. The money that is donated allows for this organization to build wells. This summer campers, families, staff, and guests together raised $1,366.68 for Water to Thrive!

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Right now almost a billion people in the world do not have access to clean, safe water. That's nearly a billion men, women, and children who don't have clean water to drink, bathe, do their dishes and laundry - one BILLION people who are at risk of deadly disease every single day because they have no place to get water. The lack of clean water impacts everything. To learn more or to make a donation directly to Water to Thrive, visit


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, ponder, and pray with us.  

Every three years at my church when we read the parable with the different kinds of soils, (take a look at Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23) I find myself asking the question "Which kind of soil am I?"  Am I the hard packed soil?  So hard that no matter how good the seed is, it's just not sinking in?"  The honest answer?  Sometimes.  Or am I the thorny soil?  Soil that is so overgrown with the weeds of distractions, schedules, busyness that prayer and worship are the first to go?  Sometimes.  Or might I be the rocky soil?  Soil that at first glance looks kind of good, but if you scratch just below the surface you discover that there just isn't much depth.  And without depth, at the first signs of adversity my faith begins to whither.  Again - sometimes. Or am I that good soil?   Rich soil that surrounds the seed, starts the germination process, and yields thirty, sixty and even a hundredfold.  "Lord, am I like that?  Am I good soil?"  Sometimes.  Not as often as I'd like, but sometimes.

The honest answer is that depending on the circumstances, depending on the time of my life, I have been and I am all those types of soil.  The same is true of you.  And that's a truth that we might be disappointed about.  Something we need to confess again and again.  Maybe that's what we are to learn from the Parable of the soils.  Good stuff leading to good prayers. "Lord let my heart be good soil."

And yet, when Jesus explains the parable, He doesn't call it the parable of the different types of soil, but rather the parable of the Sower. And because parables are typically about God and the breaking in of God's kingdom, we can conclude that the Sower is God.  The Parable of the Sower is about who God is and what God does and how God goes about doing that which God does.  God spreads the Word seemingly willy nilly - even recklessly (according to our standards). God sows abundantly, and generously, not holding back, not discriminating between places a or people.. The seed of the word comes to us no matter what kind of soil our hearts may be at any particular moment. The word is being sown right now, even as you read this.  The word is sown when we or our kids go to camp.  The word is sown when we gather for worship. God is over-the-top generous in sowing the seed of the word. That's Good News!

And maybe that's the Good News you need to be reminded about today. Maybe that's the Good News you need to be looking for and anticipating as you go through your day.  Maybe that's the Good news you could be sharing with others.

Pastor David N. Anderson

VLM Board of Directors 2012-2018

St. Andrew's Lutheran Church Grand Rapids


Bluegrass Festival Raises...

The sixth annual Bluegrass Festival was another huge success! We welcomed more than 475 people and together raised more than $34,000. The day was sunny and hot, the major rain showers skipped right over camp, and everyone had a great time enjoying the wonderful music and delicious food. We thank the donors, volunteers, musicians, and guests who came together for this great day. Together we make camp happen!

Rubbaboo: Thursday-Water Revives

This summer we invite you to journey with our campers and staff by connecting to our Rubbaboo theme in each edition. "Rubbaboo" is a Voyageur term referring to the boiled-up mixture of flour and pemmican (meat) that sustained the Voyageurs each day along the fur trade. In camp, Rubbaboo is the sustaining nourishment of our day - Bible Study!

When we wander, God is right there to help us get back on track.  Each day we are given a new chance to realize that God's love and grace is with us always, reviving and renewing us.  There is no where we can go to get away from God.  We will explore Psalm 23, Psalm 51, and the story of the shepherd searching for a lost sheep as we discover that God uses water to revive and refresh us for God's work in the world.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
   for his name's sake.
Psalm 23:1-3

In-Camp Update

We have had so many amazing campers so far, and as we near the end of summer we get to welcome a different kind of camper to Hiawatha: family campers! The last 2 two weeks we are hosting camp lovers of all ages for our annual Family Camp.  The exciting part about these weeks is that they contain all of our favorite camp activities-games, campfire, bible study, music, great food-but they also give families a chance to reconnect and grow in their faith together.   Family camp looks a little more relaxed than other weeks. Sure, we still get the blood pumping by playing Scoop Noodle Challenge and by belting out the camp rouser each night at campfire, but there's also time for board games, time for saunas and time for sitting on the dock with a nice cup of coffee.

There's never a lack of fellowship time, and that gives families the chance to share their love of the Great North Woods with each other.  At any age, camp is a place to meet new people, share good conversation, and grow in your relationship with God. We're so excited for our family campers to share their stories and love of camp!

-Aaron Burnside

Camp Hiawatha Program Director

Canoe Country Update

Voyageurs Canoe Country has had a chilly but wonderful start to our program year! We had the pleasure of welcoming youth for a 2-night "almost Boundary Waters" trip through our Leadership, Outdoor Education, Service and Theology (L.O.S.T.) program. They spent time on Ojibway and Triangle lakes.

The week of June 24th-July 1st Canoe Country was in full swing. That Sunday, we sent three trips out from Trinity Lutheran Church- Long Lake, MN on Fall Lake, Moose Lake, and Snowbank Lake. These groups saw plenty of loons while paddling in the rain and learning about God's living water on the beautiful lakes of the Boundary Waters. The very next day we had the pleasure of sending two groups from First Lutheran Church-Albert Lea, MN into the Boundary Waters for their first time on the Little Indian Sioux and Moose rivers. The groups enjoyed decent weather as they paddled, portaged, fished and rested in God's Great Northwoods.

We were able to bring all of our groups together at the end of the week for a time of worship, as we reflected on our journeys together and the laughter and love that was experienced in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

We look forward to continuing to share the renewing presence of God in the wilderness this summer!

With Peace,

Katie Anderson

Voyageurs Canoe Country

Assistant Program Director