At-Risk Youth Build Resiliencey in the Wilderness

by Camp Amnicon
A Young Retreat Guest
A Young Retreat Guest

10 years ago, a group of ladies from Bethesda Lutheran Church in Carleton got the idea to put on a women’s retreat. They signed up for a weekend at Camp Amnicon—and they’ve never looked back since. That same group met for their annual retreat a few weeks ago, and after many hugs, reconnections, and exclamations, I had the opportunity to sit with them and hear just what makes them come back—some from as far away as Alaska and Montana—year after year. Their answers say much about the power of the retreats that you support by supporting Camp Amnicon.

The women of Bethesda told me that their retreat is intimate, their attention undivided and that the sharing is often deeply personal. Inspired by the awe and beauty of the natural world and set apart from normal routines and distractions, this time together in a quiet place creates opportunities to get to know one another in a powerful way. Lasting friendships and support naturally blossom in this setting, even for people who have “known” each other for years. “You just can’t go this deep during a coffee hour!” one of them told me. Another one exclaimed: “She’s my daughter-in-law and I didn’t know something this important about her until now!” Deep indeed.

Retreats can be quiet, reflective and relaxed, with free time to read, craft, walk, stargaze and sip something warm by the fire; retreats can also be busy and fun with a an organized program. At a time in our history when more and more people struggle to find quality time with family and friends or find any time of Sabbath – a time to renew and reconnect with that which is greater than us—retreat programs are increasingly necessary. Your support of camp Amnicon helps provide those experiences and rebuild what our busyness has stolen from us. Maybe Jesus was right to gather his community in ‘a deserted place!’ The experience of the women from Bethesda is just more evidence that we need retreat for ourselves, and for our friendships, for our church, and for our world.

May you be filled with the peace of Christ,

Alana Butler


Camp Amnicon has been built by folks like you
Camp Amnicon has been built by folks like you

There are a lot of memories built-in at Camp Amnicon

Maybe you remember the the story of a child who came back glowing and smiling from a wilderness trip.  If you've been to Camp, maybe it’s a volunteer work-weekend, or a retreat, or a hermitage stay when you were met by the Christ-like love, laughter, and care that live here. 

In forty-seven years of ministry, we’ve made a lot of Amnicon memories together.

On their first day at camp, we tell every camper and retreat guest that each building on the Amnicon site was built by volunteers.  Campers and guests can feel the love ‘built-in’ to every structure by volunteers and donors just like you.  These buildings, too, are full of memories.

In 1966, this piece of property was donated to Central Lutheran Church with the vision of starting a camp on Lake Superior—a laboratory for Christian community.  And all along, it’s been community—it’s been you—that has made the magic of Amnicon real.  The physical place and the people who care for it are the heart of this ministry.

Whether you were here in person or not, through your support you’ve built the camp from the ground up.  You built the garage that would become the dining hall in 1967 and added onto it again; and again; and again.  You dug the basement of the lodge in heavy red clay in 1968 and you put up the walls in the early ‘70s; you set up Concordia Chapel in the 1980s; you built hermitage cabins, and then you refurbished them as a sacred retreat space in 1998; you raised the money for a director’s house in 2001 and built a cabin for year-round staff in 1999; you built Adizokan Village, the new family camp site, in 2010, and replaced the lodge deck just this year in 2013.     

Look how far we’ve come from that muddy patch of land we started with in 1966!  I hope you’re proud of what you’ve built here.  You’ve done it on volunteer work weekends and you’ve done it with church groups; you’ve done it with a hammer and nails, and you’ve done it with checks in the mail.  (more…)

You’ve done it.  But we’re not done.

If you’ve been to Camp Amnicon lately, you know we’ve got more work to do.  There’s a boardwalk that stretches from the lodge to the dining hall, straight through the heart of Camp.  Have you ever tripped on its un-even boards?  Or slipped on it when it’s wet?  I hope you’ve never had the chore of trying to shovel snow off of it!  The boardwalk is becoming a hazard, and desperately needs to be replaced this year. 

We have other projects too. Storm-damaged roofs need work; the camp’s electrical system needs an upgrade; the heating system in the lodge is ancient and could give out at any time. 

As a friend of the camp, you know that we work on a shoe-string budget.  We rely on volunteers, rather than paid contractors, whenever possible, and we work out discount deals with suppliers who believe in our mission.   

Most of all, we rely on you.  We always have.

Without your support, we’d be forced to make difficult choices.  Let our buildings fall into disrepair and neglect safety concerns?  Sacrifice our reputation for the best in wilderness adventures? Turn away poor groups who can’t pay?    

There are many more Amnicon memories waiting to be made—but only if you pitch in and help.  The camp counts on your prayers, volunteerism, and most of all, your financial support.   Please show your support today. Your gift in any amount will help, but please consider giving $450 or more to support the future of the camp. 

Thank you for believing in Camp Amnicon.  I look forward to building a new memory with you soon.

In the Peace of Christ,

Amnicon has been serving kids since 1966
Amnicon has been serving kids since 1966


2013 by the numbers
2013 by the numbers

New programs a success Summer 2013 ushered in two brand new programs at Camp Amnicon. Family Camp at Adizokan Village had its inaugural sessions with friends of the camp and a multi-ethnic, intergenerational group here on campership funds. We also kicked off River Heroes, an adventure in service-learning, where campers from around the country cleaned up the riverway while learning more about their connection to the ecosystem. Thank you for making these exciting developments possible through your support! We could tell you all about the lives that were affected, the learning that was accomplished and the fun that was had… but I think I’ll let the campers do that themselves. Here’s what they have to say.

River Heroes

-“Very productive, beautiful, and just what this group needed.” -Brian, Adult leader

-Sometimes I don’t feel worthy, but I am and you guys help me remember that.

-The most important thing I learned was to sit back and enjoy God’s work.

-Absolutely amazing. I’ve been to many camps and this one has impressed me more than all the rest.

Family Camp at Adizokan Village

-“We cannot thank you enough for the incredible week we spent at family camp at Adizokan Village. We have so many amazing memories from our week there that we will cherish… we greatly appreciate your generosity and hospitality. We look forward to returning and adding another knot to our chi-rhos.”–Ara, Julie, and kids

-Our heartfelt thanks to the counselors at family camp this past week. My daughter commented on how happy you all seemed and that you talked so easily to kids and adults alike. What great role models you are for kids of all ages (that includes the grown-ups!). Keep doing what you do so well! -Jana, family camp parent

These thanks extend to YOU, the donors, volunteers and supporters who make Camp Amnicon possible. THANK YOU!

A guide shows campers a natural wonder
A guide shows campers a natural wonder


Toby’s experience at Amnicon was priceless….

Dear Friend of Camp Amnicon:

When Toby came to Camp, he was cold and detached.  He stood with his arms folded and his mouth closed during the opening campfire, refusing to participate. 

His guide knew that something was wrong. During the star-lit walk back to camp, the guide hung back to ask: what’s wrong

This young teenager was haunted by personal tragedy. He had witnessed death and conflict in his family… carried anger towards absent parents… and felt very alone in the world.  He had few friends and no outlets for his grief, fear, and loneliness. 

Frankly, he was ready to give up on life.  This was a child on the margins. 

But he insisted that he wanted to participate in this experience. Already he trusted his guides to help and care for him during his week at camp.

Toby thrived.  As the group paddled from site to site on the Namekagon River, he began to connect. His guides watched with proud pleasure as Toby talked and laughed with his peers. 

Toby was a large guy; during swim-time the younger kids would throng around to play with him.  He was respected.  He had something to offer.  He was not an outsider here.

A week at Camp Amnicon did not change the circumstances of Toby’s life.  He still went home to absent parents and a life of difficulty.  He still struggles with pain and sadness. 

The miracle of Toby’s camp experience was that, for one week he cast off the label of ‘troubled kid’ to laugh, learn, and experience the healing power of Christ in community.

That’s what he took home – the awareness that the Lord is always with him and that there are people who care about him and value him.

Yes, Toby’s experience was priceless… but it wasn’t cheap.                                                                                                

It cost about $700 for us to share this miracle with Toby. That’s the full cost of one week of camp for every child who attends. Some of the young people are able to pay the fee of $400. Others can pay only a portion of that fee. And youth like Toby cannot afford to pay anything.

That’s why your help is so vitally important. Fees charged do not cover the whole cost of camp.

For summer 2013, Camp Amnicon has pledged to bring 87 kids like Toby, and some of their families as well, to the shore of Lake Superior to experience the gifts God has for them in Christ.

And there will be another 331 kids who will not need full camperships but do rely on gifts to keep the fee within their reach.

Will you consider sharing a special gift today to help Toby and other young people experience the love of Christ at Camp Amnicon this summer?

Your gift of $700 will provide the entire cost of one child for one week… $400 will supply the fee of one child… and $300 will supply the difference between fee and cost for one child.


Be assured that whatever size gift you give – $25, $50, $100 or $1000 or more – your generosity will help each and every child who comes to camp.

           In your giving you will find a priceless sense of satisfaction knowing you are bringing the love of God in Christ to children. Thank you.

Sincerely in Christ,

Alana Butler

Executive Director                               


Campers gather firewood on Lake Superior
Campers gather firewood on Lake Superior

Dear Friend,

If you’ve ever seen Lake Superior, you know that its scope and beauty can stop a person in their tracks. If you’ve never seen the inland sea known by the Ojibwe as Gitche-Gumee, you’re in the same boat as many Amnicon guests. From the very beginning, it has been Camp Amnicon’s undertaking to “connect the mission of the church and the care of God’s creation” by providing awe-inspiring outdoor experiences—like a date with the largest lake in the world. Through your gift to Camp Amnicon, you’re helping to make that mission possible.

On the first night of their Amnicon experience, summer campers make the almost half-mile trek from the main site to a campfire on the shore of Lake Superior, following a wide and grassy trail. This is where the Amnicon miracle starts—a welcoming circle of warmth and wonder and, for many campers, their first glimpse of the big water. This year, due to disastrous spring storms, a portion of that essential lake trail slid downhill, creating a dangerous edge, and requiring extensive rebuilding. This project and many others, large and small, are funded by your generosity.

When you come to Amnicon and see a well-cared for site, with sturdy buildings, safe infrastructure, and clear trails—all a part of the camp’s ministry of welcome and hospitality—you know that your money is being put to good use. Thank you for your support. Together, we’re living up to Lake Superior, creating a truly Superior experience in Christian community.

In Peace,

Alana Butler

Executive Director, Camp Amnicon

P.S. If you want to see your generosity at work, come visit us! Schedule a stay in a hermitage cabin or just stop in to say hi—and catch a glimpse of Gitche-Gumee while you’re at it. And you can always call with thoughts or questions, or to share your dreams for Camp Amnicon, at 715-364-2602.



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Organization Information

Camp Amnicon

Location: South Range, WI - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Leah Damon
Development Coordinator
South Range, WI United States

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