Skip to content

The ‘Black Hills Camping Trip’–

The Other Camp

You’ve heard of Camp Roughrider north of Jamestown, North Dakota. You know about the youth camp on the ILC campus in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. You probably have even heard of the CLC Youth Conference being held in Colorado this summer.

But there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of ‘the other camp.’

This other camp is the roughest, toughest camp in the whole CLC. Those who attend it don’t sleep in soft, cozy cabins or dorm rooms. They don’t eat their meals cafeteria style in a comfortable dining hall. They don’t have flush toilets or the chance to shower and shave every day. This is real camping!

These campers sleep on the ground in cold, leaky tents with coyotes and mountain lions roaming the nearby woods. These campers cook their meals over open fires, scrub their dishes in ice cold water, and chop their own firewood. These campers go on eight-mile hikes up rugged peaks where rattlesnakes and poison ivy lie in wait.

This other camp is only for those who have the spirit of the pioneers beating fervently in their breasts.

Okay, so I’m being a little melodramatic. While leaky tents and rigorous hikes are definitely part of the experience, in all the years I’ve helped direct this camp, I’ve never seen one rattlesnake, and the few mountain lions there are in this place don’t like to go anywhere near people.

Welcome to the annual Black Hills Camping Trip of South Dakota! This camp had its origin in the Porcupine Mountains of the Upper Pennisula of Michigan, where Pastor Walter Schaller, a great lover of real camping, used to take the young people of the Marquette congregation on backpacking trips. When Pastor Schaller accepted a pastorate in Lemmon, South Dakota, he brought his love of camping along. Thus, in the summer of 1987 the annual Black Hills Camping Trip was begin.

In 1992 Good Shepherd of Rapid City began participating in the event. Over the years young people and adult chaperons from CLC churches in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado have participated. The number of campers has ranged from as few as five to as many as fifty-five. Typically the number is about thirty campers ranging from sixth through twelfth grades. The camp is usually held at a different site in the Black Hills each year.

While the wonders of God’s creation are enjoyed by all, the chief purpose of the camp is to draw each camper closer to God’s Word and the Savior revealed in that Word. Truly, Jesus camps and hikes with these young people as they listen to Bible devotions from pastors, study topics of special importance to young Christians, learn new table prayers, and sing hymns of praise to their Savior.

Years ago prospectors rushed to the Black Hills in search of gold. At this other camp the gold of Christ’s saving Word is mined, and the campers are reminded that they truly are pioneers, hiking onward to possess the new heavens and the new earth.

(Submitted by Pastor Michael Wilke, who reported that this year’s outing occurred July 31-August 1.)