serenity scene of church on lake

Observations From COP

Devotions written by Kristi Youngdahl, Director of Cathedral of the Pines Camp

Week 3 - June 23, 2022

Family Work Week has always held a special place in my heart! I love the traditions that are built into the week. Kids playing with the camp staff as the parents work together to get the camp ready for the season. Time spent in the lodge eating three meals a day together as a family. The staff singing songs for a crowd after practicing over and over during staff training. Softball games with moms and dads, as well as children and college kids… some playing and others cheering on their families from the bench. (Everyone trying to ignore the gnats… easier said than done!) Swimming in cold Lake Caribou, most needing to sauna before jumping into the lake so early in the season. Even a talent show put on by the youngest campers with help from the camp staff, I love watching their happy faces, as they get up on the stage, eager to share the talent they had been practicing all day long.

Evening chapel is a highlight during Family Work Week. Parents proudly watch their kids participate in the service reading scripture, saying a prayer, or singing from the hymnal. For the last forty years, I have looked forward to the Murray brothers singing special music and now they sing with their sons in perfect harmony! This year they sang a song their mother Carol Murray wrote, “Give It Away”.  But my favorite tradition of the week is going down to Lake Superior and having chapel looking out over the lake. Some years the lake is perfectly calm and still. This year the waves put on a show for us! They were crashing upon the rock with beautiful sprays that were sparkling in the sunshine. In my opinion, there is nothing better than the North Shore!

-Kristi Youngdahl, Director of Cathedral of the Pines Camp

Week 2 - June 16, 2022

Every summer, we have five days of camp staff training. When the camp staff arrives for work, the senior staff immediately splits them up into small groups, making sure they mix up friend groups. Those small groups are then asked to come up with some funny skits! It is a great way to get people out of their comfort zone and jump in “head first”. The skits this year were funny, and the creativity got better as the staff became more comfortable with each other!

The first days of training always start with “get to know you” games, devotions, job training, and brainstorming lots of ways to greet and engage the campers when they arrive at camp. A long-standing tradition during staff training is to randomly draw numbers before each meal to see who sits at which table. That way, the camp staff can sit with different people at each meal and be in conversation with each other.

The best part of the training is when the Mount Olivet Pastors arrive. They come for 24 hours to train alongside the camp staff. Every session during the summer, one of our fantastic Pastors is at camp teaching Bible study, preaching, offering spiritual guidance, and participating in all of the camper activities. (Plus, they are just fun to be around!) Having Pastors at staff training allows the camp staff time to get to know the Pastors on a more personal level. Also at training, we were able to share our spiritual autobiographies, brainstorm what is important in faith formation for campers, participate in a bible study, play softball, build relationships, and prepare for the campers to arrive!

The gnats are still out in full force this year! The good news is they do not stay all summer… hopefully they are on their way out! However, that just means the mosquitos are on their way in… the beauty of Minnesota summers! Bugs! It has been a rainy, rainy, damp, cold day… I am on my way to take a nice hot sauna and jump in beautiful Lake Caribou. Then on to be with the families participating in Family Work Week, the summer has officially begun!

-Kristi Youngdahl, Director of Cathedral of the Pines Camp

Week 1 - June 9, 2022

Hello summer of 2022! Cathedral of the Pines was hoppin’ last weekend! We had our Hi-er League Retreat with 86 college age students. I felt as if I had died and gone to heaven. To have these young adults enjoying this beautiful space in the same way they did as campers, work staff and counselors… it filled my heart with joy! I am thrilled I have the privilege of watching them grow and mature into such awesome human beings. I wish they could have stayed all summer.

We had nice weather… but the black flies were out in force! (The locals call them black flies but you might know them as gnats.) They were thick! Flying all over our heads, in our eyes, nose, stuck in our hair but we powered through and didn’t let them bring us down. Softball was intense and competitive. EVERYONE was trying for a home run with bragging rights.

There were saunas and jumping in Lake Caribou, a campfire at Dragon Fly Place, a dance in the Education Building, hoops on the Upper Court, canteen, coloring in the Holiday Lodge, and a hike to Solitude. We really packed a lot into a couple days!

Of course, the highlight was beginning and ending our days in the chapel. Being in that sacred space is so special! Sitting in the pews with church friends, the people who know you the best, is a gift! During class we did a meditation and took 30 minutes of silence to slow ourselves down and to listen to what God had to say. Then had the opportunity to share that experience with each other. If last weekend is any indication as to how the summer is going to go… 2022 is going to nothing short of awesome!

-Kristi Youngdahl, Director of Cathedral of the Pines Camp