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.



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.  


"Let every detail in your lives-words, actions, whatever-be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." - Colossians 3:17 (The Message)


Ahhhhh, Fall, my most favorite of all the seasons. The cooler temps, combined with the warmth of the sun.  Picking pumpkins at my parent's farm.  The beauty of the leaves turning.  Walks in the woods filling my nostrils with comforting earthy scents.  Wearing sweaters with sandals or mukluks depending on the day. And if you're in any doubt of the seasons changing, a trip down the aisle of the grocery store where you'll see pumpkin flavored everything solidifies all that is good about this time of year.

Another sign of the Fall season as we approach Thanksgiving is hearing the question "What are you thankful for?"  We've probably all made a list like that at some point.  My list is filled with names of family, friends, communities that I am a part of, belly laughs, the beauty of the landscape surrounding me, health, a roof over my head, food on the table, chocolate, etc., etc.  And caffeine in the form of Dr. Pepper.  Totally thankful for that one on long days. 

Recently I was challenged to ponder a follow-up question to my thankfulness list:  "How do I show that I am thankful?"  This question slowed me down a minute and got me thinking. How do I live out a life of gratitude towards all of God's creation - to the people that I encounter day-to-day or to the world around me?  How does God desire my actions, words, and thoughts to be a reflection of my thankfulness for different people and things in my life? Seems like a good challenge to live out during this thankfulness-focused season (and it doesn't have to stop there!)

Here is a blessing to take with you: Remember that you are God's love loose in the world!

Deb Westerberg

VLM Alumni '97-'99

Celebration of Light and Music - Camp Hiawatha

Sunday, December 10, 2017 at Camp Hiawatha

2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

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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)

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

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

Please RSVP by December 5 by contacting the main VLM office - email or 218-666-5465.

Gifts of Equipment

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Thank you to Rosemary Guttormsson, of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Duluth.  Rosemary made a wonderful gift of some car maintenance tools, including a 2 ton engine hoist, a press, and a dozen jack-stands.  The tools were used by her husband Steve who passed away recently.  "Steve would be happy to know that his stuff is being put to good use.  He used to go to bible camp as a kid."  

Thank you Rosemary, the tools WILL be put to good use at both camps!

If you have equipment, a vehicle, or tools that you think camp could use, let us know by calling the office at 218-666-5465.  It is great to be alive in God's great northwoods!

Thank you, Meagan!

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In August, Meagan Esterby, decided to take a step back from her position at VLM as the Communications Coordinator. Meagan has served VLM very well with her creativity, welcoming smile, compassion, and drive. She is an incredible support system to this ministry. Meagan is looking forward to being able to focus on her job at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Virgina and to continue doing her part as a VLM Alumni.

We will miss you, Meagan! 

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