"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your
hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:12-17

At some point in middle school, I decided I wanted a cool Bible, not just the plain old black one they gave us when we moved up to the third grade Sunday School room. I found something that I considered the height of sophistication at the time - faux leather, bright teal blue, dark brown trim, magnetic flip clasp with asymmetrical flower detail. This Bible has followed me through all but my first two summers as a camper at VLM, and continued to be my trusty sidekick when I joined the summer staff in 2014. It is now full to bursting with little notes, scraps of birchbark, various worship outlines, activity sheets, and the other bits and pieces of life you collect during your time in God's Great Northwoods.

As I flip through the pages, trying to avoid spilling the contents all over my lap, I muse over folded notes I can no longer read (Messengers and Interceptors? Maybe?), wonder why exactly I decided to mark a particular page, and smile at kind words from old friends. And I always find myself back at the same place, words highlighted, page marked with a fun-size Butterfinger wrapper.

I was first introduced to this verse as a LOST camper, wrapping up a two-week session that I did not want to let go of. I was wrapped snugly in the joy and love that camp provides, and the prospect of going back out into the "real world" was decidedly unpleasant. This is a common and unfortunate side effect of coming to camp - it's just too good to leave! Being surrounded by an intentional community of faith, kindness, and joy is powerful, and it is something you don't find very often in day-to-day life. I have held campers as they wept on the last day of a session (and done a fair bit of weeping myself), because leaving that safe and happy bubble can be disheartening and, honestly, a little bit scary. It is upsetting to leave because we know that when we go back to our everyday lives, even though we may carry a bit of that camp sunshine around with us for a few weeks, we almost always fall back into our old routines, and that shine fades away.

Hearing this verse in worship that LOST session, I was jolted out of my moping. THIS IS IT! Ages ago, someone had put into words all the things I loved about the camp community and was now telling me to GO OUT! KEEP DOING AND BEING THOSE THINGS! Love people! Be thankful! Sing! Praise God! You can do this ALWAYS, not just when you are outside and wearing three days' worth of sunscreen, sweat, dirt, and bug spray.

Even though I knew objectively that I could do all these things outside of camp, this was the first time I had really internalized that fact - felt it. I think we all know we can do these things - choose kindness, forgive freely, love wildly, etc. - every day, every situation, but sometimes we just need a little reminder. That's why I keep coming back to this passage. It helps me refresh, re-center, and re-focus my energies.

As a counselor, I started using this verse as a benediction if I was leading worship. I wanted to give my campers the same tool I had been given, the same recipe for life inside and outside those intentional, caring, safe communities like camp that we so crave. So now, before I sign off, I invite you, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, to choose to clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, patience, and above all, love. Choose to bear with one another; choose to forgive each other. Choose to let the peace of Christ rule in you; choose to let the word of Christ dwell in you. Choose to be thankful! Choose to sing psalms! And whatever you do, in word or deed, choose to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Ellen Badger

VLM Summer Staff 2014

Summer Camp Makes a Great Gift!

Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion offer summer programs for all ages! Giving the gift of camp this season will give that special person in your life not only something to look forward to, but also an experience that will create lasting memories!

Camp gift certificates can also be used for one of our year-round programs or even towards the cost of renting our facilities for a family, work, church, or friend gathering.

Consider the gift of camp this year!

Contact the main VLM office to set up your gift - VLM@VLMcamps.org or 218-666-5465.


"After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!"" (Revelation 7:9-10, NRSV)

The congregation I currently serve has a long history with Camp Vermilion. We've sent campers there for years upon years. We take care of the Priest House and spring and fall work days. Daughters and sons of our congregation have been on staff over the years. But we also send kids to Camp Hiawatha when it fits better for the families. Each summer VLM Staff run our Daycamp in Proctor, serving over 50 kids a day! Two daughters of our congregation each had their weddings at Camp Hiawatha recently. Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry is an important part of our ministry at United Lutheran Church of Proctor.

Personally, I have been to a lot of Bible Camps and Retreat Centers over the years. When I was growing up, my home congregation sent us to Luther Dell Bible Camp outside of Remer, MN. When I was in college, I spent four summers working on summer staff at Luther Dell. One of those summers, our camp was folded into the Lake Wapogasset Lutheran Bible Camp family, so I got to spend a few weeks as a counselor at Wapo. In college, I also visited a few other Bible camps in Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

Right after college I moved to Texas. Our church was a member of Cross Trails Ministry. I vividly remember a vulture circling above me at Camp Chrysalis one day when I had a nosebleed. For a while I lived in Idaho, working in the church. We sent our youth to Luther Heights Bible Camp, high up in the Sawtooth Mountains. Later in life, I lived in South Carolina. While there, I went to retreats and confirmation camps at Lutheridge, a camp just outside of Ashville NC. I also visited Camp Kinard in the Midlands of South Carolina for a seminary retreat. If I thought about it longer, I'm sure I could come up with a few more camps I've visited over the years. Every camp has its own strengths and traditions.

Revelation 7 reminds me that God's people come from all over the place - Northern Minnesota and the Hill Country of Texas and the Rocky Mountains and the ocean coastlands. Truly, God's people are so varied and numerous that no one could count them all. Revelation 7 also reminds me that God's people are not all the same - they speak different languages and have different traditions and some of them even don't do the hand motions to camp songs the same way I do! This variation is something to thank God for, even when we prefer our camp over another one.

The one thing that is the same at every camp is this: we worship God Almighty and Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Often times when I'm singing at a campfire or lakeside worship, I imagine what worship is like at other camps. I think about how youth and leaders around the country (and around the world) are praising God with loud voices. They might not be dressed in white robes like it says in Revelation, and they don't wave palm branches. But they are waving their hands, and they are dressed in camp clothes that are adorned with crosses and Bible verses. Our camps help us practice for that great, unending worship around God's throne. One day, you and I and all our campers and all of God's people will join together to sing our praises. That's a campfire not to be missed!

Peter R. Kowitz
Pastor of United Lutheran Church of Proctor

2019 Summer Camp Registration is Now Open!

You don't have to wait any longer to sign up for summer camp at Camp Hiawatha or Camp Vermilion...or both! 

We have been busy putting together some initial plans for the summer of 2019, and we can't wait to have you join us.

The summer brochures are in the mail, but you can also find everything you need to know on our summer camp webpage.  

We are excited for our 38th year of Hockey Camp, to see our Canoe Camp program continue to grow, to see Discoverer and Venturer campers become Seekers, and to bring back a Family Camp program to Camp Vermilion. It's going to be the best summer yet, and we hope you will join us!  

Already know when you want to come to camp? Go straight to our online registration page and get ready to be part of a community that laughs, sings, worships, explores faith, plays, and prays together!

Make A Difference

We are seeking young adults who are looking to be part of something different, who want to

challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zone, and who want to invest their time, energy, and love into a community that offers what our world needs!

Did you know that working as a summer staff member at camp can help to hone your leadership, public speaking, critical thinking, and communication skills? And you just might learn to play the guitar, cook over a fire, or paddle board in the process! 
Interested in learning more? Check out our summer employment page! Here you can read about being a summer staff member and download an application. Still have questions? Contact Aaron or Brett to talk about what a summer at camp could look like for you!

PS Did we mention that we can turn your summer at camp into an internship? Brett and Aaron would welcome the chance to talk with you about this!

Weaving JOY

Summer Theme 2019

Jesus calls us to follow him. Our lives are made more complete when we respond to this call and strive to follow the example Jesus set. But living out this call takes more than simply a relationship with Jesus; it requires a relationship with others, too. To live a faith-filled life, we need Jesus, Others, and ourselves (You). Woven together these three are stronger and supportive, like braided rope. When one of these strands is off, life can fray and faith can be weaker. But by Weaving JOY, we can see how each strand impacts the other and enables us to move from "going to church" to "being the church" in our communities and world. We look forward to exploring Jesus, Others, and You this summer, and sending campers home with a new sense of how to weave together these key strands of our faith journey.


"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" Luke 16:10

There are many definitions of trust; it can be a reliance on the integrity, strength, or ability of a person, or a confident expectation of something or someone.
Trust can be hard at times, whether it is trusting that you are doing something right, or trusting that someone will be there to catch you when you fall. And building trust with each other is a whole other topic - everyone tends to have a different time scale of when they rely on or have enough confidence in you to share something with you.

Every week at  in the summer, you can witness this as you see campers come and go and watch how relationships build trust. Some campers don't need a lot of time to trust someone, while other campers take until almost the last day to open up and rely on their cabin mates or counselor.

One example that I saw this past summer was when a group of seekers were learning to paddle board on the lake. Most of them had never paddle boarded before, but they trusted the staff and the PFD's that they had on, if they fell in they would be saved. One camper in particular could not find his balance and would keep falling in and then would need help getting back on the board. Instead of screaming for help he would simply say "I'm in a pickle". A staff member would help him back on the board,  and when he would fall back in would again say "I'm in a pickle". He didn't give up and continued to be confident in the fact that there was someone there to help him.

God's trust is an absolute trust that can't be broken. I think you could associate the saying "I'm in a pickle" as a call out to God to show that you have trust in God. Think about who you trust, the trust you have in God, and perhaps think about a saying you can use when you are calling out to God, or that trusted person when you are "in a pickle".

Jamie Szamatula

Camp Hiawatha Hospitality Coordinator

Let Us Host You

You know that Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion are available for retreats and meetings, but did you also know we could host your next family gathering, specifically over the holidays? The Bakk House at Camp Vermilion and the Retreat Center at Camp Hiawatha provide an ideal setting for a holiday celebration. With a kitchen, plenty of tables, living room/gathering space, sleeping rooms, and outside winter activity options, it has all the things your house offers with the bonus of not having to clean before your guests arrive! Consider using one of these spaces for a day, an overnight, or even a few nights. 

Contact Bobbi to inquire about available dates and costs.

Thanks, Tavis!

We said thank you and farewell to Tavis Reiderer at the end of October. Tavis has been the Camp Vermilion Site Director since February of 2017, and brought a passion for camp and a constant smile to this position.

Tavis loved to solve problems; if something wasn't working, he was relentless in figuring out a solution. He helped us get many of the final tasks completed on Voyageur Lodge, and took great pride in knowing how things worked in that building. His enthusiasm for camp, working with volunteers, and strengthening Vermilion's connection to the Cook community was evident throughout his time with us. 

In addition to being Vermilion's Site Director, Tavis is also the owner of The Crescent, a restaurant not far from camp, and a frequent choice of both summer and year-round staff. His decision to leave Camp Vermilion was not an easy one, but one he feels is necessary to give The Crescent the time and energy needed to keep it a successful business for the community. And though he will no longer be on staff, we look forward to seeing around the area as well as volunteering at camp!

Quilting Getaway at Camp Vermilion

Join us October 26-28 for a weekend of sewing!We'll cook and clean while you create. 

This retreat is ideal for quilters who need some focused time to start or finish a project, who are interested in connecting with others who share a passion for sewing, or simply need a weekend away in a beautiful setting!  Of course we would love to have you join us for the whole weekend, but this retreat also provides the chance to join us for the day as well. (Or, if you live close enough, come to sew and eat, but perhaps go home to sleep in your own bed!)

Cost is $30/person per day, which include two meals, snacks, irons, a cutting table, and space to sew. Overnight costs: $30 for multiple occupancy in Voyageur Lodge ($75 for single occupancy).

Not a quilter? Bring your knitting, crocheting, needle point, scrap booking, or any other craft you wish.


"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." -1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

Community - It's one of those words we use a lot around camp all year long, but especially in the summer. We use it to cover a variety of groups and contexts from a cabin of summer campers, to a group of cabins (or village), to a broader context that includes groups of volunteers, member congregations, and friends of VLM who extend beyond those parameters. Community covers a lot and is used a lot. The downfall of overuse, often times, can be that we forget the power of the word and how it is really defined. So consider this a "community" refresher. Let's start with a few of the most common definitions of community:

  • a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

  • a group of people living together in one place practicing common ownership.

  • a particular area or place considered together with its inhabitants.

  • the people of a district or country considered collectively in the context of social values and responsibilities.

  • denoting a worker or resource designed to serve the people of a particular area.

  • a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

  • a similarity or identity.

  • joint ownership or liability.

  • a group of interdependent organisms of different species growing or living together in a specified habitat.

As I review these definitions and pair them with the above verse from 1 Peter, I am reminded of how important and impactful our time in and our identity as a community at VLM truly is. Community at VLM can be seen in a variety of ways:

  • a cabin of fifth and sixth grade Trekkers spend a week living, growing and fellowshipping in a common place while building their identity as friends, campers, a chosen people who belong to God; 

  • on a portage trail where a canoe country group works towards a common goal to complete their route to reach the next campsite, warm meal and fellowship time around the fire; 

  • our summer staff, a group of interdependent people from different backgrounds, spend weeks living together, training in our summer program, develop a common goal and identity in the midst of their responsibilities as a part of the royal priesthood of all believers;

  • VLM board members and volunteers who give their time and energies to Camp Hiawatha and Camp Vermilion engaging their sense of identity and "ownership" of these places that hold deep meaning and a sense of belonging.

All of these instances and more show a fuller, deeper meaning of community.

Through the VLM community, in all its forms, we are drawn into this group of people belonging to God, called into fellowship, a royal priesthood, that spreads far and wide through many years past, present, and into the future. How good it is to be in community, connected to one another and God through these special places and this unique ministry in God's great Northwoods.

Brett Amundson

Camp Vermilion Program Director

Fall Projects at Camp Hiawatha

Thanks to some dedicated and hard working volunteers, a lot of updates have happened at Camp Hiawatha since our summer programs ended.  

The Log Lodge, which is almost 100 years old, got some new logs, new window frames, and new screens. We are so thankful for these updates that will allow us to use this building for generations to come!

Those staying in Lindberg Dorm will notice a drastic improvement to the building. A new cement was poured last  spring in front of the building, and this fall a covered walk way was built. Not only will this keep the snow from landing right in front of the doors, it will also provide shade from the sun during the long summer days. Sitting in front of Lindberg enjoying the view of Deer Lake just got much more enjoyable!

The final project was new racks for our canoes and paddle boards. In a more sheltered location, our canoes will be protected from high winds, and we have a set location for storing our paddle boards when not in use.

Stand Up Paddle Board - Paddle Building Weekend

September 14-16 at Camp Vermilion

This weekend long class includes four sessions during which you will complete your own stand up paddle board paddle. You will craft your own Stand Up Paddle Board Paddle, from gluing the wood blanks to a finished work of art. 

Go to our Paddle Building page for more information, including cost and how to register!



"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

Ephesians 3:14-19

It should not come as a shock to anyone when I say that we pray often at camp. Not only do we pray often, but we also pray in many different ways: shout prayers, bubble prayers, responsive prayers, whisper prayers, rain prayers, and more. However, I can't remember anyone, myself included, praying the way Paul does in Ephesians. Every time I read any of Paul's writing I am blown away by his prayers, and this reading from Ephesians is especially impressive to me. But more importantly it brings me back to camp every time I read it, especially this time of year when all the camper names and faces start to blur together in my mind. I can't help but think of camp as the family from verse 15; an extremely diverse, dedicated, laughing and loving family that is tied together by Christ.

In July we celebrated 60 years of ministry at Camp Hiawatha, and it was incredible to be there surrounded by people that have so many stories and memories of their time at camp. We planted some pine saplings around Grandfather Pine to commemorate the occasion, and in the firm hope that camp's ministry will continue for many years to come! When Paul talks about having power together with all the saints, it's hard not to think about all the people that have come before at camp, and how we are connected to those people; not only because of the beautiful site, but also because of our passion for sharing God's love with youth. I am beyond grateful for all the directors who have navigated Camp Hiawatha, Camp Vermilion, and VLM as a whole through the good and the bad times and gotten VLM to the point we're at today. I'm also grateful to every single person who has helped camp in any way, small or big, whether that was working for 11 summers or 1 day, being a camper, sorting mailings, removing trees from program spaces, leading a journey, helping with the merger 28 years ago, inviting a friend or family to camp, or donating your time or money. Thank you to everyone who loves camp enough to tell a camp story to a friend or family member; you all are camp saints, part of the camp family that I get to see every week in campers, retreat guests, volunteers, and staff. Thank you, so very, very much.

To take a page out of Paul's book: I pray that you, being rooted and established at camp, may have power together with all the camp saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that is so prevalent at camp and surpasses all knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Amen!

Aaron Burnside
Camp Hiawatha Program Director

Log Lodge Gets an Update!

Now that our busy summer camp season is over, the Log Lodge at Camp Hiawatha is getting a bit of a face lift! Volunteers cut and de-barked the trees last winter, had them cut to length, and are now working to replace the logs that have started to rot. It is definitely a labor of love, and we are so very thankful to the dedicated group of volunteers who are taking on this project. We love this building and look forward to using it for many years to come!


A Busy Summer!

Camp Hiawatha Celebrated 60 Years of Ministry!

On Saturday, July 7, we invited friends to join us at Camp Hiawatha to celebrate 60 years. It was a beautiful day filled with stories, fellowship, and worship. The worship included planting three new White Pine trees near Grandfather Pine. It is our hope that those trees will one day take Grandfather Pine's place as the location to gather for campers and guest who use this camp. Thank you to all who joined us in this celebration! 

See more pictures of the day by clicking here.

Camp Vermilion Loses 200-350 Year Old Trees in Storm

The same weekend we celebrated Hiawatha and planted trees, a strong and fast storm moved through the Lake Vermilion area and took out about 100 trees at Camp Vermilion. Some of those trees had been standing for hundreds of years! Fortunately the storm did minor damage to buildings, though the amphitheater damage was significant. We have had some wonderful volunteers helping with cutting trees, cleaning up brush, and wood chipping.  Join us at our Fall Work Day on September 22 and help us continue the clean up.

See our initial Facebook Post here; additional posts on our page will show clean up progress. 

Camp Vermilion Sauna

Our summer season ended with the discovery that the sauna at Camp Vermilion was destroyed by fire the night of August 9. We are so very grateful that no one was hurt and that the fire did not spread to any other buildings. With the heat involved in this incident, it is truly divine intervention that stopped any other part of camp being affected by this fire.The sauna had been used by campers earlier in the day so the stove was lit, but it is our understanding that the cause of the fire was simply too much heat for a 50 year old building. Plans are in the works for how to rebuild this much used and loved building.

See the Facebook Post here.

7th Annual Bluegrass Festival July 28


Join us this coming Saturday, July 28, for our Annual Bluegrass Festival! This is a day filled with great food, amazing music, two auctions (live and silent), a bucket raffle, and our main prize raffle - definitely something for everyone!

New this year is a chance to try a pizza baked in our wood fired pizza oven. From 1:00-3:00 our you'll have a chance to create your own pizza and bring it out to the oven to be baked. Starting at 3:00 we'll be serving pork fresh off the spit, along with corn on the cob, salad, and chips. Pie and ice cream, Root Beer Floats, and Kettle Corn will be sold all afternoon.

We are also adding a sing-a-long to this year's Festival. Our bands, and probably some of our staff, will lead everyone in some well-known and loved hymns and songs. 

Raffle tickets are still available until 6:00pm Saturday. Don't miss your chance to win a 50 inch Toro Zero Turn Mower, two Grey Duck Sol Paddle Boards, or $500 in cash.

We can't wait to see you at Camp Vermilion this Saturday!   


Last week at Camp Hiawatha, I had the opportunity to lead a stargazing devotion with the high school age L.O.S.T. campers. We wandered out into the middle of the ballfield after the sun had fully set, as the stars and planets were coming out in the night sky above us. We were wrapped up in towels, sleeping bags, and sweatshirts against the mosquitoes and the chill, and there was a bit of rustling around as we settled in and got comfortable on the grass. But the rustling quieted, small annoyances and distractions faded into the background, and our focus turned to the stars and to this verse:

"To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One. Lift your eyes up and looks to the heavens: Who created all these? God who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of God's great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God'? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. God will not grow tired or weary, and God's understanding none can fathom. God gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young people stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40:25-31

If you live in or near a city, you know how hard it is to see the stars at night. Light pollution pushes the brilliance of the stars into the background, and many of them fade into invisibility. They pass unnoticed, dimmed; we are distracted from the beauty and vastness of the stars by the glare of so many garish earthly lights. Camp is one of the places where we can escape light pollution and see the stars for themselves. It is also one of the places where we learn that God has created and called each and every single one of us lovingly by name, exactly the way that we are.

Who is pushed to the fringes in our lives? Which people have been obscured by "light pollution" and other distractions? Who gets talked over, interrupted, or ignored? Are there voices and faces in our communities that are invisible, unnoticed, unheard?

Think on this: How can we listen more deeply, not necessarily to have an answer or a response every time, but to gain more understanding? How can we tune out, get away from, or remove the distractions that get in the way of connecting with and fully loving God and other people in our lives?

God's peace,

Michelle Hofeldt
Communications Coordinator and VLM Summer Staff

Camp Hiawatha's 60th Anniversary - July 7

Join us from 2:00-7:00pm on Saturday, July 7 for an afternoon of memories, stories, and camp activities. The waterfront will be open with game opportunities and fellowship happening around the dining hall. A short program will happen at 4:00, dinner will be served at 5:00, and the evening will end with a celebratory worship as we look ahead to the next 60 years. There is no charge to join us for the afternoon of the 7th.

Family and friends are welcome to stay at camp for the weekend. The Retreat Center, Dorm rooms, and camping options are available on a first come, first served basis at our regular retreat rates. Meals will be served throughout the weekend, and all are invited to join us for Sunday worship and brunch with the Deer Lake community. 

Contact the VLM office to RSVP, and to book your Dorm or Retreat Center room for the weekend.

We look forward to seeing you at Camp Hiawatha!