In-Camp Update

Summer! Campers! The time we have all been waiting for. The staff jumped head first into Hockey Camp last week here at Camp Hiawatha, eager to put all of their skills to the test. The days have been full of games, swimming, crafts, delicious food and of course, hockey! The energy is high, the weather is a constant guessing game, and the campers are a joy and we are so glad that they are here. We are all excited to be part of this ministry, and we can't hardly wait to see what is in store for the rest of our summer in God's great northwoods!

Thank you for your continual prayers and support!

Lakyn Muilenburg

Assistant Program Director

Rubbaboo: Monday - Water Creates and Connects

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!  

Monday's theme is Creates and Connects, which revolves around the idea that in the beginning, before God created anything else, there was water. Everything came after water, everything came from water - land, animals and humans. Water connects all of creation to each other. Our scripture texts include the Creation Story, Moses getting water from a rock as the Israelite's wandered in the desert, and a passage from James that challenges us to put our faith into action by caring for those around us.

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock. Exodus 20:7-8

Bluegrass Raffle Prizes

  • First Prize: 2017 Lund 1600 Fury Tiller Mercury 25 EFI Four Stroke with Power Trim/Tile and Shoreland'r Roller Trailer ($13,500 value)
  • Second Prize: A pair of Norco Storm 7.1 Mountain Bikes including helmets and water bottles ($1,300 value)
  • Third Prize: $500 Cash

Raffle tickets are $10 each. Drawing will be held at 6:15pm July 29. Need not be present to win. Must be 18 years or older to win a prize.

Tickets are available by calling the VLM Office 800-331-5148, by stopping by either Camp Hiawatha or Camp Vermilion, or by visiting the following businesses and churches:

  • Bradley Interiors in Duluth
  • Cook Building Center in Cook
  • Country Store in Cook
  • Northstar Credit Union in Cook
  • Thrivent Miller Hill Office in Duluth
  • Bethany Lutheran Church in Deer River
  • First Lutheran Church in Aitkin
  • Immanuel Lutheran Church in Tower
  • Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Virginia
  • St. Andrew's Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids

If you, your church, or your business is interested in selling tickets, too, just call the Camp Office (800-331-5148) and we'll send you a set! Together we make ministry happen in God's great northwoods!

Thank you to the following businesses for sponsoring our prizes:
Aronson's Marine in Tower, Bauman Family Funeral Homes in Virginia, Galleria Bicycle in Hermantown, Rural Living Environments in Babbitt, Short Stop Convenience in Virginina, Sundell Eye Associates in Virginia


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. 

Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, Since God so loved us we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4: 7-11

God is love and God loves us. This is the message I wanted to make sure my campers understood last year as I was a camp counselor. I read this passage to my campers before they left at the end of each week. This passage is so important because of the insight it gives us into who/what God is, and how we should react to that aspect of God.

God is love and God loves us. Pretty straightforward right? Not exactly... but it makes sense. If you asked me to describe or define or explain love, I would have a hard time capturing what it means. Similarly, if I was asked to describe God I would have a hard time capturing what God's indescribable majesty. The best I can do in both situations is say "It is hard to describe but you know it when you feel it." Although the idea of God concept of love are hard to describe, great comfort and strength can be found in knowing that by nature, God is love.

God is love and God loves us; so we too ought to love one another. The call to love each other acts as bookends for this particular passage. This is how we, as Christians are called to act in response to God's love. This is the secondary message I hoped my campers would be able to pick out. It is a message I challenge you to think about. Over this next week, how can you love others? One act of love that brings me life, and I recommend, is the act of forgiving others.

God is Love, God loves us, so we shall love others. Amen


Matt Ouren

Gustavus Adolphus College

VLM 2016 Summer Staff


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.  

I remember my first year going to camp. I went to Vermilion in third grade with my friend and our camp counselor was Laura Castle. I was scared the first day, no wait, the first few minutes, but then everything clicked. From that moment on, I instantly fell in love and when it came to our last day and parents were watching us perform our program, I didn't want to leave.

Consequently, I returned the following 3 summers with a different friend each time, so that I could bring a little bit of home with me, and when we would return, my friend and I would be able to share the experience with each other. All of the friends I chose to go with were perhaps "underprivileged", and they each considered this a special opportunity for them. Every one of them was infinitely grateful for being able to go, even when initially some might have not been so keen on the idea of going to "Jesus Camp." If my family didn't sponsor these kids, they most likely wouldn't have ever had the opportunity to go to camp. Even if a child does not have financial support, they can still get camperships that make sure that they can go, because something that I think VLM truly believes is that camp is for everyone in some way, and that everyone should have the same opportunity to go. I am still good friends with the first person I went with, and just the other day her and I reminisced about camp. She thanked me for bringing her and from the way she was smiling and laughing about those good times, I could tell that I had made a difference in her life.

Flash forward to today, I attended VLM's LOST (Leadership Outdoor Service and Theology) program last summer. I learned a lot about my faith and how I can strengthen my relationship with God. Even though I didn't go back to camp for the previous four years, I still felt the same sense of home and belonging. Within those blank four summers I made sure I was involved in a summer church activity to fill that need of mine. Because of camp, I have opened myself up to more opportunities to get involved in my community. I have volunteered much more, including doing a highway clean up and other environmental activities, becoming a helper with vacation bible school, joining the local missions trip, and even something as simple as being a guest pianist here at Bethesda. Camp has taught me how to use my time and talents in my daily life to help others.

Even from the first year, I knew that my ultimate goal was to become a camp counselor. This year I will be attending the Staff in Training program so that I can reach that goal. Camp has made such a prominent, positive impact on my life and others around me. And, I'm sure if you asked another kid that has been to camp would say the same thing. Please send your children to camp because if it has any effect on them remotely close to the effect it had on me, it will change their life for the better as a whole.

It's Great to be Alive in God's Great Northwoods!

-Audrey Lokken

VLM Camper
Bethesda Lutheran Church in Carlton


Camp at the Course

September 16, 2017 Vermilion Fairways, 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 or email Patti to sign up!

Thank You Work Day Volunteers

Thank you to the dozens of people who joined us at Camp Hiawatha's and Camp Vermilion's Work Days in May! Almost 200 people came out to share their time, energy, and joy as we cleaned up camp! People were busy stocking the wood piles, washing windows, raking leaves, and deep cleaning each building.  Thank you for all the ways you make camp happen here in God's great northwoods!

Staff Training Recap

Click here to view more photos from staff training!

Staff training just wrapped up after several intense weeks of learning and growing together in community. We had a ton of fun working on our Bible Studies and cook-out skills, learned a lot of new songs, and heard from all ten of our international staff members.

We also welcomed many outside experts and friends of camp to share their wisdom. Katya Ouchakof taught our guides how to be expert canoeists. We heard from Phil Bramley about how to lead groups. And we did strength finders and talked about vocation with Andy Jolivette.

We especially enjoyed meeting all the people who generously give their time to make camp happen at the volunteer dinner, and we had an awesome time on our overnight on a lake just outside the Boundary Waters. Now we're ready and eager for campers to arrive on Sunday!

-Aaron Burnside, Camp Hiawatha Program Director

& Grant Winter, Camp Vermilion Program Director

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!