Service is at the core of Camp Luther, a more than 200-acre camp located on Range Line Lake in Three Lakes. That was one of the elements that drew Abbotsford native Casey Sprotte to the camp three years ago as a summer counselor.
Sprotte, who now works as a seasonal program coordinator at Camp Luther, said she felt that working at the rural camp fit well with her agricultural roots and desire to serve others.
“I think the primary reason I love what I’m doing at camp is because of the heart for ministry that God has instilled in me,” she said.
Being able to work in ministry in the “middle of nowhere” has also been something that has brought Sprotte joy in her work.
“I grew up on a hobby farm in the ‘middle of nowhere,’ ” she said. “I say ‘middle of nowhere’ because I’ve driven and hiked in the (Upper Peninsula), which is even less populated than central small-town Wisconsin,” she said. “And maybe that is why I appreciate being out in the woods. When you spend your entire summer breathing in the fresh air of the northwoods while walking among the white and red pines that saw your parents when they were kids and you hope will one day see yours, I can’t describe how special that is.”
Sprotte said growing up on a farm taught her a lot about working hard and being willing to do the jobs that aren’t necessarily everyone’s first choice but that need to be done.
“Growing up on a farm taught me many skills that are becoming harder to find in my generation. I know what hard physical labor looks like and how to pace it so that when I wake up at 6 a.m. I can work until late afternoon and still have enough energy for the evening activities. I understand persevering through the tough parts of a job, like kids that have thrown up, or the continuous battle with wolf spiders,” she said.
Her experiences on the farm also taught Sprotte about how to problem solve and be resourceful, things that she has found especially useful while out doing service projects for the camp.
“In a job where we had service projects that required construction, no directions included, the knowledge of random tools and how to use them has helped me numerous times in tackling a project independently,” she said.
Sprotte said growing up in a small town also taught her the importance of community and culture.
“The sense of community and valuing relationships is a core essence of who I am and what camp seeks to foster in our sinful world,” she said.
Camp Luther is part of the National Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Association, one of more than 26 camps nationwide. It has been operating for more than 70 years, providing opportunities for all ages to grow in their faith and learn how to serve Christ.
“Camp Luther fosters the growth of people in many ways, from fellowship to intentional focus on Christ,” Sprotte said.
It is one of those fostered relationships that led to the establishment of Keweenaw Base Camp in the U.P., 10 miles from Houghton, Mich. In 2011, Carl and Michelle Treankler, owners of 220 acres in the U.P., came to Camp Luther with the idea of establishing a satellite camp on their property, an idea that came to fruition in 2014. Between the satellite camp in the U.P. and the main camp in Three Lakes, more than 2,500 guests partake in one of the programs during the summer, with an approximate total of 5,500 guests year-round.
“Camp Luther is versatile. Guests come primarily in the form of summer campers and cottagers, confirmation groups, outdoor education and school groups, retreats, conferences and family events. There are approximately 15 staff members who work year-round,” Sprotte said.
She said the beauty of the area is one thing that draws her and many others back year after year, with outdoor activities in the area ranging from hiking in the warmer months to cross-country skiing in the winter.
Sprotte said the experience of working at the camp has taught her a lot about who she is as a person.
“I really enjoy what camp has given to me, from lifelong relationships with people that steady my heart, to amazing memories exploring places that seem unreal, to challenging me in ways I never knew and creating opportunities for growth in ways I didn’t know possible. (It also allowed me) to see the world in a painfully raw way that in the end expresses the wonder of our Savior,” she said.
One of the opportunities Sprotte had this last year while working at KBC in the U.P. was helping clean up the area after the mid-June flooding.
“The geographically diverse area slopes into the Keweenaw Waterway, a canal that cuts through the peninsula. The landscape combined with the immense and intense rainfall made for a disastrous aftermath. The storm destroyed roads, washed out entire areas and eroded areas literally into peoples’ homes,” she said. “KBC was able to assist the locals and after the flood, it was humbling to see those elements of a small community come together to help one another in a time of dire need.”
She said this one opportunity of serving the area’s population was an amazing experience she will never forget.
“The work couldn’t be done by machines and many were too poor to own or hire machines,” Sprotte said, adding much of the population was elderly or facing medical hardships, making it difficult for them to clean up their own properties. She said it was special to see complete strangers step up to help, illuminating the good in people.
Sprotte said she is grateful for the experiences Camp Luther has given her and she hopes people will consider checking out one of the camp’s many opportunities in the future.
For more information on Camp Luther, visit campluther.com or the Camp Luther or Keweenaw Base Camp Facebook or Instagram pages.