LAKE METIGOSHE Take a lake, add hundreds of campers and fun is guaranteed. Of course, many facilities are necessary to make the experience more enjoyable, such as pontoon boats, canoes and tables and chairs.
Camp Metigoshe, a Bible camp on Pelican Lake eight miles southeast of Lake Metigoshe, suffered a severe setback when the weight of unusually heavy snow caused the collapse of Lutheran Hall at Pelican Lake in late January. It crushed or severely damaged pickups, a pontoon boat and other items stored there for the winter.
The camp, which officially began its ministry 50 years ago, turned to 70 Lutheran congregations in North Dakota that own and operate the facility.
Kyle Pullen, left, Andrew Arnold and Eris Smith were among painters for the Camp Metigoshe furniture project at Christ Lutheran Church.
"We had a good response," co-director Betsy Debertin said. "Individuals donated things like a new ping-pong table and a pontoon boat."
But a major contribution, Debertin said, is being completed by members of Christ Lutheran Church in Minot, where individual work and two planned work-days by youth and adults are completing 13 sturdy wood tables with benches and 14 wooden Adirondack chairs to replace those destroyed under the snow.
"Christ Lutheran's work is unique," Debertin said, "because they just recognized the need and filled it."
The Minot church has long had a close relationship with the Turtle Mountain camp. The Rev. Marsh Luther Drege, a Minot native who was a member at Christ Lutheran, was a camper, counselor and staff member at Camp Metigoshe. He served as the camp's third director from 1988 to 2004, when he and his wife, Ann Siegle-Drege, moved to New York.
Melissa Reinhart, who headed youth activities at Christ Lutheran for two years, became camp project manager in January. Many Christ Lutheran members also have been campers, counselors and staff members at Metigoshe.
The close association made it easy to find financial backing and work for the table-and-chair project, chairman Jay Clark of Minot said. His wife, Kerry, is on the camp board and their daughter, Megan Hibbs, and sons, Kyle Hibbs and Daniel Clark, have all been active in various activities at camp.
Jay Clark approached the Lutheran Men in Mission group, the women's group and individual congregation members of Christ Lutheran to defray costs of lumber, paint and bolts.
He and church member Ed Cantlon retrieved pieces of broken chairs for patterns, revised them and created patterns.
"Of course, with the chance to have a new line, co-director Kyle Debertin couldn't resist asking for a few modifications to the chairs," Clark said. "For one thing, these are stronger. When you have three or four teen-agers sharing one seat, the chairs need to be tough."
"Those tables and chairs are so important to camp," Betsy Debertin said. "The cabin groups gather there at those tables and chairs for Bible study, for conversation, for being silly, for all the experiences that let people make life-long friends and relationships."
"Everything the ELCA congregations do to support this camp is important, including making quilts, helping us out financially and encouraging young people to make time for camp in their busy lives," she said, "but this Christ Lutheran project is unique. We are so grateful for the support."
Clark and Cantlon cut pieces for the chairs and tables. Then they invited hands-on help.
On May 11, Christ Lutheran Confirmation students, their parents and leaders met in the church parking lot to paint lumber in the traditional Metigoshe brown. Although Minot had experienced four steady days of rain and drizzle, the sky cleared an hour before the appointed meeting time, just long enough to haul in the lumber and complete the painting.
Another group from the congregation met on May 21 in the Clarks' garage where they could get out of the rain to set together chair pieces and do finish painting.
The partially assembled outdoor furniture will be hauled to Pelican Lake next week so volunteers from all the ELCA congregations and others can complete setting them together and place them at cabin sites and other places on the lake.
Camp Metigoshe, with the logo "Adventures Anchored in Christ," will host week-long camps for youngsters and adults. Aided by 50 college-age cabin counselors and staff, the camp provides wilderness camps, a challenging High Ropes course and other attractions.