Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I choose Lakeside?
Lakeside gives your camper the chance to simply be a kid. We offer campers a wide array of activities and a loving staff to accept them. Kids these days always seem to be overbooked - we give them the chance to relax and have fun, the chance to choose what they want to do, the chance to be themselves. At Lakeside, our mission is to provide a welcoming environment for everyone to come. We hire staff that are responsible and mature to teach your campers about themselves, about their faith, and life lessons. *Camp improves the life of children. Camp makes children healthy and active. Camp gives children a place to grow into a caring, considerate, contributing, successful member of society. Camp helps children identify themselves positively, grow in independence, gain confidence and leadership skills, make friends, feel secure, interact positively with peers, become aware of the environment, explore nature, feel adventurous, grow in their values, make decisions on their own, and grow in their faith. Camp provides kids with a place to disconnect from all of the outside noise - these days kids are so crowded by school, sports, homework, video games, cell phones, Facebook - they need a break. Here at camp we give them space to unplug and find out what life can be like away from the noise. It's a place for campers to be welcomed by people who know their name and care – where they can build trusting and positive relationships with Christian role models. It's a great way to gain confidence, take on adventure, and maybe even be transformed.
Not only is the experience wonderful every week, Lakeside offers lots of new and exciting programs that can get your kids pumped and ready. With exciting programs like Night Owls, Treehouses, Top-Chef, Flipped, Sailing, Music & Stuff (MAS), Family Camp, & LEGO Robotics – you know that you and your camper will never get bored. We also offer many programs that assist campers in learning a specific skill such as Short Timers & Juniors Reading Camp, Wavebreakers Leadership Training, Junior Lifeguarding, and Confirmation. Fun weekly themes provide each camper with a little bit more of a choice of what they are interested in, some of these include: Lakestock, Sunken Treasure, Lakeside’s Got Talent, Around the World, and more! (Click here to view the summer schedule)The variety of camps and themes offered assures you that the camp experience will be new and exciting every year, while still maintaining the Lakeside Traditions that you have grown to love.
Give your child the chance to grow.
The chance to experience something new.
The chance to make new friends and have fun in a faith-filled and safety-conscious environment.
Let them learn life skills such as confidence and independence
Give them a chance to spread their wings.
Give them the best week ever.
Give them the gift of camp.
I just want to say thank-you from my entire family. The two Foster boys that we have are both orphans and have had a tough life for such a tender age. This gave them an opportunity to be children again, without an adult always saying “no” and being able to enjoy the outdoors and lake. We live in town and there isn’t much for the boys to do, but at camp, they got to be boys. They also got to hang with positive mentors and make a connection through the teaching with religion. They still talk about certain staff members and the nicknames everyone got while there. This is a lifetime experience for the boys, one that they will remember all their lives. It is a warm feeling knowing that they could escape from their pasts for a few days and bond with other children. Thank-you for giving us and them the wonderful gift of camp. You have done an outstanding job finding staff that can mentor, guide, and lead children in a positive way. - Camper's Parent
Camp was cool beans! - Camper
I really LOVE it. It is the number one priority on my kids’ list of summer activities. - Camper's Parent
- *Some facts taken from ACA research & followingtolead.com
What is the facility like?
Lutheran Lakeside Camp is located in Spirit Lake, IA right on East Lake Okoboji. We have 130 acres of land, 1/2 mile of lakefront property, a lagoon on site, and plenty of forestry and wildlife to keep you, your camper, and your family encompassed in nature.
We offer high-quality facilities in our 3 NEW retreat centers filled with high-quality rooms, each with a private bathroom. Most floors contain communal kitchen and great room with lounge furniture. Each room has personal heating and air conditioning control units. A suite is offered in which a living area and kitchenette are included.
Our Lodge is a more rustic way to spend your vacation, with a large gathering room in the center - complete with fireplace and comfortable lounge furniture. Each room has personal heating and air conditioning control units. Campers generally stay in the lodge for camps & programs during the non-summer season.
Lakeside also has 13 rustic cabins available which each sleep between 10-16 people. Cabins each have a private bathroom and a sink and are within walking distance of a shower house. Campers generally stay in our rustic cabins during the summer.
Our Dining Hall is a great place to house events and is also where we come for mealtimes. It seats 250 people with a great view of the lake and a full-service state-of-the-art kitchen.
A worship Center is located in the center of camp and is a great place for worships on rainy or cold days. This building has a large and comfortable great room with a fireplace and lounge furniture. Also, in this building, is Z's Canteen - a 50's Diner-Style eatery that supplies campers with a great place for fellowship, buying snacks & Lakeside-gear, and simply relaxing and enjoying the music from an antique juke box. Campers can put money in here like a bank account for purchases throughout the week. All leftover funds are given back to campers upon departure.
Other programming includes, but is not limited to, sailing (jetski rescue boat available for lifeguard), speed boat and pontoon rides, swimming (in our heated swimming pool), rock climbing (indoor and at the tower), ziplining, archery, ropes courses (two different skill levels), hiking, biking, roller skating, crafting (including tie-dye), kayaking, canoeing, pedal boating, paddle boarding, and so much more!
How do I get to Lakeside?
Where do I sign up?
You can either register by mail, over the phone, stop in, or register online HERE!
What to bring – Health Form & Remaining Balance, Pen, Paper, Bible, Sleeping Bag (Or twin sized sheets and blankets), Pillow, Bath/Beach towels, Sunscreen, Soap, Shampoo, Toothbrush & Toothpaste, Personal Toiletries, MODEST Swimwear (no bikinis, one-piece ONLY), Modest shorts and shirts, Jeans, Underwear, Socks, Closed-toed Shoes (NO Flip-Flops at camp other than as shower shoes), Sandals with Straps across the Heel (NO Flip-Flops), Jacket, Rain poncho, Laundry Bag, Flashlight, Insect Repellent, Water Bottle, Spending Money for Canteen & Crafts (Optional), Disposable Camera (optional), Any Sporting Equipment (ball glove, fishing gear, etc), Guitar (Optional) Sunglasses/Goggles (Optional)
What not to bring – CELL PHONES, TV, Flip-Flops or Sandals without Straps across the Heel (unless being used as shower shoes only), Pets, CD Player, E-Readers (Kindles, Nooks, Ipads, etc), Curling Iron, Hair Dryer, Ipod, MP3 Player, Electronic Toys, Beepers, Weapons, Knives, Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco, Fireworks, EXPENSIVE or FRAGILE items (clothing, jewelry, or otherwise), like-items.
If brought to camp these items will be kept in the vault for security and safety issues. Lakeside is not responsible for lost, stolen, or broken items. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at any time at 712-336-2109
Please mark all belongings with names or initials. Lost & Found will be donated to Good Will after 30 days if not claimed.
Is my child ready for camp?
Is your child ready for camp? You know your child best, but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
Ask yourself – Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions.
- Does your child need help making or keeping friends?
- What are their interests?
- What do you want your child to gain from their camp experience?
- Have they spent nights away from home successfully?
- Do they need structure?
- What is their temperament?
Some tips from the experts:
- Make sure your child’s medication is properly titrated. A stay at camp isn’t the time to be adjusting medication or trying new behavioral plans.
- If your child moves easily into different activities – birthday parties, outings to the park, he or she will most likely adapt to camp
- Be honest about how your child manages challenging or frustrating situations. Is aggression a problem?
- Practice! Try staying overnight at grandma’s or a friend’s house. How does this go?
- Remember – age is not always a factor. Sometimes a 7 year old child may be ready while a 12 year old child is not, you know your child best.
- Try taking this quiz created by Parents.com – click here!
- Bring your child to one of Lakeside's many non-summer events. Typically these events are scheduled as 1-2 day events and can be easier on a child than a full week of camp. Click here for the non-summer schedule!
- Ask the Program Director or Executive Director if children like yours have had successful experiences.
- Talk to your child – do they want the camp experience? How do they feel about it?
- Above all, trust your gut!
REMEMBER that not all children are alike and that camp can be taken in different ways for each and every child. A child that doesn’t seem quite ready may handle being away better than a child who seems over-prepared. You know your child best.
What if I can't afford camp?
Lakeside guarantees that no child is ever turned away due to lack of funds. If you have any issues paying for your campers stay at camp, give us a call or send in the Campership Application (Click here!) and we will work with you so that your camper doesn’t miss out on the experience of camp.
The child that attended is a foster child in our home. It was an awesome experience for him. I very much appreciate the opportunity for him to attend free of cost. He would not have been able to attend otherwise. He loved camp so much and has already asked to attend next year. Thank you to all the supporters, staff, volunteers, churches, and others who make camp possible
How are staff chosen & trained?
Our staff are held to the highest standard in order to ensure safety for all campers that attended Lutheran Lakeside Camp. All staff are subjected to background checks (State of Iowa, Criminal History Record Check) and cross referenced using the National Sex Offenders Registry (Bureau of Criminal Investigation). We also require all of our staff to read, sign, and abide by the Lakeside Code of Ethics. To view the Lakeside Code of Ethics, click here!
Our Minister of Programming and Faith Formation, Tyler, selects college-aged people for the summer staff. Many of these are identified through the Camp Association congregations, at Midwest Lutheran Colleges, state universities, and Lutheran Campus Ministries. Camp staff have demonstrated leadership abilities, maturity in judgment, and a call to serve in Outdoor Ministries as Christian role models. Staff are then approved and hired by Co-Executive Directors after their reference and background checks are completed. Camp Staff are trained for two intensive weeks at the beginning of the summer in recreation leadership, positive discipline, age-appropriate camper behaviors, basic Lutheran theology, and ALL are certified in American Red Cross CPR, First Aid, and AED for infant, child, and adult. Throughout the summer, staff maintain their training through weekly in-services and daily meetings.
What is the ratio of staff to campers in the cabins?
Ratios in the cabins are kept at 8:1 or 14:2 (Camper : Staff), but vary slightly based on age and ability of campers. Our goal for each week is to keep our ratios at LESS than 8:1. Special Needs Adults ratios are 4:1
How safe is Lakeside?
The safety of your child and family is our number one concern at Lutheran Lakeside Camp. Click here to read about safety policies at Lakeside.
What does the schedule look like?
While each campers’ daily schedules may vary (due to the many differing programs running at once), a typical daily schedule for your child would include:
Beginning on the first evening of camp, a walking orientation to the land is provided for all campers with their cabin counselor and support staff. A swim test is given to determine level of skill in the water and to receive their swim-band. Getting to know each other through non-competitive games and quiet time in the cabin leads them to worship and campfire that night.
A typical day begins with optional activities. Campers can choose if they would like to go on Road Runner (a short jog around camp or Polar Plunge (a quick dip in the lake) or both! Then comes showering, Alphas (an all-camp morning devotion) and breakfast. Between breakfast and lunch, Campers participate in Bible Study (with their cabin), ACA (All Camp Activity – usually a group game), and Quest Time (a chance to learn a new skill). After lunch, campers participate in SWAS (Service with a Smile) before they go back to their cabin for Siesta (a short quiet time). Worship comes next, then a period of “Choice Time,” followed by Family Time (time where boy and girl cabins come together for games and fellowship). Dinner is followed by Adventure Magis Fun Time (AMFT – where kids sign up to do some great activities around camp), another ACA (Nighttime is usually a theme event) and Canteen Time (a time to just hang out and purchase items at the canteen) comes next and the evening is ended each night with Campfire Worship and Omegas (devotions in the cabins).
More specific schedules for each day can be found near the description of the camp week - (click here for the summer schedule)
What is the Social Skills Program?
Effort is made to create an intentional Christian community from the time campers arrive on Sunday through their departure on Friday. This means that an environment of acceptance, hospitality, patience, kindness, compassion, understanding, tolerance, support, and encouragement is integrated by everyone on staff from the Support Staff all the way to the Executive Director.
How are meds supervised?
Upon arrival, all campers visit the Nurse (or Lakeside’s Healthcare Manager) and talk individually about their medication regimen. This person makes distribution of meds three times a day or when necessary (usually with meals). Campers with asthma or respiratory issues may carry their inhalers with them, campers with allergies that are severe may carry their Epi-pen. Otherwise, all meds (for both campers and staff) remain in the Infirmary until the camper leaves for home on Friday.
How can I communicate with my camper?
Care packages and letters are encouraged during your campers’ stay at Lakeside.
If you would like to send either, mail them to camp:
Lutheran Lakeside Camp
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
You may also write letters or make care packages and give them to the registrar upon arrival to save on the cost of stamps. Write on the envelope which day you would like your letter delivered and staff will ensure that it is distributed during the mail call that day.
Parents may communicate information to their children by talking on the phone with the Program Director or the Co-Executive Directors, Carolyn & Jerry Fritsch. All three of these people may be contacted through the office number – 712-336-2109.
We ask that you do not encourage your camper to call if they are feeling homesick. Many campers are homesick for the first day or two of camp. These feelings are completely normal for people of all ages. However, talking to parents can make these feelings worse. If they are told to call, they will focus on that rather than the fun they are having at camp. Instead of telling your camper that they can call home whenever they want, let them know that you will miss them, but that you know they will have fun. Express positive feelings toward camp rather than uncertainty (say "I know you'll have fun!" rather than "It'll probably be okay..."). Encourage them to try new things and to talk to Lakeside staff and to friends when they are feeling homesick.
Parents will be contacted as soon as possible by the nurse, health care manager, doctor, program director, or executive director should a medical emergency arise.
A camp blog – The Morning Bell – can keep you up to date for all the happenings at camp! Daily blogs go up for parents to watch and see what their kids are up to. With so many kids at camp and only one photographer, we make no guarantees that your child will be pictured – but do promise to do our best.
Why can't my child bring a cell phone?
Camp provides children and families with a chance to escape the noise of everyday life. Cellphones can be distracting and cause issues within the cabin community. Cellphones take the attention away from enjoying their time at camp to thinking about home. When a child begins thinking about home or is reminded that he/she is not at home, homesickness tends to set in. We encourage campers to be fully engaged in our program and have seen the best results this way, so we ask you to please not allow your child to bring his/her cellphone to camp.
Camp is not responsible for items that are lost, stolen, or broken during your child’s stay. We advise you not to send expensive items or electronics with your child to camp.
How does Lakeside handle homesickness?
Homesick Camper Policy
If a camper does become homesick, Lutheran Lakeside Staff will follow these steps:
- Before homesickness even begins: Counselor encourages the camper to become actively involved in activities and to have fun. Team building activities are planned with the cabin to bring the group closer together.
- At the first sighting of homesickness: Counselor will talk individually with the child about their experience. Campers are given stuffed animals to sleep with or cuddle if desired, books to read, and are connected with other staff members to form bonds. If homesickness results in stomachaches, the nurse’s cabin is always open.
- If homesickness persists, the Program Director and APDs are informed. Camper is connected with LLC’s on-site social worker and given the task of walking our camp dog, Sofi. This gives the camper time apart to talk and relax. The company of Sofi helps them to feel loved and at home. We have found that almost all cases of homesickness are cured by this step.
- In the rare occurrence that the homesickness continues after step 3, the Program Director will contact the parents or guardians and consult as to how they would like their child’s homesickness to be handled. The parent’s or guardian’s instructions will be followed, but we encourage parents or guardians to find ways to help their child without removing the child from camp.
Please view the question "How can I help my child succeed during his/her stay at camp? (and prevent homesickness)" for suggestions on what to do before your camper arrives to help prevent homesickness.
How does Lakeside handle bullying?
Please realize that these changes are proactive, not reactive. We are working hard at LLC to prevent bullying and abuse from ever occurring. We understand that bullying and sexual harassment have, unfortunately, become more common in the world we live in. Therefore, all of our staff go through intensive training on bullying prevention, sexual abuse & harassment prevention, and how to recognize when either are occurring. We spend hours working on Mandatory Reporting and how to recognize the signs of an abuser or one who is being abused. We follow the rule of three, meaning that there are never only two people (staff, campers, or a combination) alone at a time. Our staff work hard to ensure that no camper is ever left alone with another camper or staff member. During shower times, we assign support staff to monitor the shower houses. They stand outside of the building and listen in to ensure that all campers are safe from bullying and harassment at all times. Changing times occur inside the cabin. Staff members stay within hearing distance, but not in eyesight of campers while they are changing. Staff members do all they can to ensure that no awkwardness is felt by campers and that everyone stays happy and safe, both physically and emotionally.
How can I help my child succeed during his/her stay at camp? (and prevent homesickness)
We discourage this because camp is an opportunity for the camper to learn to meet new friends and to “break out of their shell”. We will call if your child is ill or if your child is too homesick. In this case, “no news—really is good news!” Our practice is to try to encourage the camper by keeping them involved in all the fun of camp. If they think you are going to come and get them, they will never give it an honest try. Many times we have heard the story of the camper who was afraid at first and then wasn’t ready to go home at the end of the week because they so enjoyed their camp experience.
Homesick Prevention Ideas
Twelve million kids go away to camp each summer. For most summer camp is an opportunity to be independent, learn self-reliance and experience adventure. However, with so many children going to camp, some will become homesick. While homesickness is usually mild and temporary, it’s not fun for your child – or for you. Fortunately, you can help prevent homesickness with these steps:
What to do before Camp even begins:
- Help your child learn about Lakeside before they get here: Watch our online promotional videos, look at pictures on our website and Facebook pages, read the information we have provided, find out names of other kids who have gone to camp and have your child talk to them about what happens when they are here. Discuss with your child what their time at camp might include.
- Do a practice run at a family or friend’s house: Let your child stay at Grandma’s house or attend a friend’s sleepover to practice being away from home.
- Tour Camp beforehand: Come to our FREE Practice Day Camp at the end of May, come for a week of Day Camp, or call ahead and make arrangements to tour the camp when you are available.
- Save the date: Mark a calendar with the camp dates so that your child can visualize the beginning and end of the trip
- Pack together: Encourage your child to pack a picture, stuffed animal, or other comforting memories. Send a picture of you with your camper. This helps the camper be less homesick because they can still ‘see’ you.
- Help them connect: Send along paper and stamped, addressed envelopes so that your child can write home.
- Have a heart-to-heart: Explain that everyone gets homesick sometimes. Be positive and enthusiastic about your child’s independence. If you have your own separation anxiety, keep it a secret!
- Don’t promise an early pickup if your child is homesick: This puts your child’s focus on getting home – and it sends the message that the experience won’t be a success.
- Discuss ahead of time what to do if our child starts feeling homesick: Write down your ideas and pack it in their suitcase. Some ideas might be: Talk to a friend or counselor, do something fun or new, look at a picture from home, think about something good that happened that day, or write a letter home to share your camp experience.
Lutheran Lakeside Camp
2491 170th Street
Spirit Lake, IA 51360
Please view the question above: "How does Lakeside handle homesickness?" to see how Lakeside helps to prevent and handle homesick campers.
What if there's a storm?
Lutheran Lakeside Camp has three storm shelters on our facility – each at different sections of camp. No matter where campers are located on our facility, they are always less than 3 minutes walking to the nearest storm shelter. The storm shelter near the Dining Hall offers beds, games, and movies for campers to use during storm emergencies if we are able to get to that facility. If not, the other storm shelters are just as safe, but may be slightly less entertaining. Staff start games and teach new songs during all storm emergencies and work hard to keep campers safe and happy.
The Program Director, Executive Director, Ranger, and Assistant Program Directors all have access to storm radios and alerts on our cellphones. When an alert is set off, the leadership team sends runners to each set of kids to calmly tell the counselor. The counselor then uses this information to get the campers to safety in a quick and calm fashion so as not to scare the campers.
During storm emergencies, communication with camp may be difficult. This does not mean that your child is unsafe, but rather that leadership is doing its best to assure your camper is safe rather than hanging around to talk on the phone. Power may be lost – if it is, do not expect replies from staff immediately as to the safety of your child or blog posts referring to the safety. This does not mean that your child is unsafe, but rather than we are unable to communicate the message. Please do not panic and rest assured that we are happily playing games and singing songs in our storm shelters – safe from the storms.
What will my child eat?
Mealtimes are an essential part of the camp experience because they give campers a chance to socialize. On top of this, camp meals are well-balanced and nutritional. The menu is planned with a certified dietitian to ensure healthy campers and includes fruits, vegetables, meats, freshly baked breads, and dairy products. Hot entrees are offered for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Fresh fruit, cereal, and oatmeal are offered as options for every breakfast in addition to the entrée. In addition to the hot entrée at lunch and dinner, a fresh salad bar and sandwich bar are offered. All of our meals are prepared by our Head Chef and Assistant Cook who are trained in Food Safety, Cleanliness, and Nutritional Needs.
Where will my child stay?
Lutheran Lakeside Camp has 13 summer camper cabins, each with a private bathroom. Campers sleep in single and bunk beds and share the cabin with other children of the same age and gender. We maintain an 8:1 camper/counselor ratio in the cabins. More often than not an extra support staff is in the cabins with the campers as an extra set of hands.
What is Z's Canteen?
Z’s canteen – a 50’s Diner-style eatery that supplies campers with a great place for fellowship, buying snacks & camp-gear, and simply relaxing. Campers can put money in here like a bank account for purchases throughout the week. All leftover funds are given back to campers upon departure.
General costs of items *this may vary slightly* T-shirts range from $12-20, Sweatshirts $30-40, Sweatpants $30-40, Water bottles, coffee mugs, and other large promotional items $5-15, Guitar picks, Wrist bands, Stickers, and other small promotional items $1-5, Crafts $1-3, Snacks $1-2, and Beverages are all $1.
How do you assign campers to cabins?
Campers are pre-assigned to cabins to avoid confusion during registration. If there are issues, campers can be moved to another cabin after the first night, but other options would be suggested and attempted beforehand. Campers may request friends for their cabin, but no more than 1 per week. The first name on the camper’s cabin mate request line will be honored, those beyond that cannot be guaranteed.
How do campers choose their activities?
Campers have the opportunity to participate in much of what camp has to offer. Due to the fact that camp has so many activities available, not all of them can be done within a one week time slot. Campers must pick and choose what they want to do and when. Campers are assigned some activities with their cabins and all participate together during those times. During Choice Time, campers can move between different activities with a staff member guide. During Adventure Magis Fun Time, campers choose and sign up for activities that they would like to participate in.
How often do campers participate in the activities you list?
Some activities can only be offered once per week due to the number of activities offered while others are offered every day. Our staff will do as much as they can to ensure your camper gets to do everything that he/she wants to do.
Do boys and girls get to interact?
Yes, our camper activities are all co-ed. The only time when boys and girls are unable to interact is at night (after campfire and before morning activities), during siesta time (cabin time), and any time when campers are changing, showering ,etc. All other times campers are fully integrated and able to interact with each other under the supervision of our staff. Lakeside also offers a Family Time period of our day which is a time for one girl cabin and one boy cabin to play games and interact. An important lesson learned at camp is that boys and girls can be friends without being in a relationship/in love. We try to emphasize that friends can happen in a co-ed situation by providing opportunities for campers to talk and play games together as a group.
What if my question wasn't answered?
Please submit your question to us using this form and we'll get back to you as soon as possible! You can also call, write, or stop by for answers if you prefer. Thanks!