Highlights of Summer 2020

Despite not having campers up at camp this summer due to health concerns, we had the Clearwater summer staff quarantine together at camp for about 6 weeks. During their time at Clearwater they not only went through the usual staff training, but they also used their time together to further develop their leadership skills, personal growth and work on new games and projects to make next summer at camp even better! Below are some of the highlights from their time together. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom and check out the summer recap video they put together!

Transformative Development

Our focus with the staff this summer was a time of transformation. We did not just train them to be camp counselors – we worked on their spiritual development and relational ministry (as opposed to transactional). We partnered with Kelli Gotthardt, a spiritual director in Santa Cruz, Paul Young, the author of The Shack, and many local pastors in the PC(USA). All of these professionals worked with the staff to dissect Luke 10:27 within the context of today’s divisive society and how to have hard conversations rooted in love.

We have already seen such tremendous growth in these young adults, and we are incredibly excited to see how this development will take shape when they are working hands-on with children and youth next summer.

Below are some personal statements from some of the staff members about their personal development at camp this summer:

I have learned such amazing and useful leadership skills from Clearwater and I hope to use those to make every moment of camp unforgettable for the kids. Hopefully, they can experience the same thing I do which is getting lost in the moment, not having to think about what is coming next because what is happening now so amazing.Daley T.

One thing I’ve taken away from this summer is that it takes everyone’s unique skills, mindsets, and abilities to work together and create meaningful experiences at Clearwater.” – Molly V.

A lot of our summer was spent on growth both for ourselves as well as camp. I have grown in my faith, with god, with others, and with myself. I have learned a lot from Clearwater Forest and all of the people that have touched and been touched by this place.” – Grace R.

As a summer staff, even with difficult obstacles, we committed ourselves time and time again to our mission of service for the campers…We dedicated ourselves to growing individually and collectively as a group to make sure that we gave the best possible experience this year and an even better one next year. Our commitment to Clearwater’s mission meant continual reminders for each other to keep the joyful and playful energy of camp alive while we shared that space, even when our campers aren’t present.” – Evan D.

My summer at Clearwater Forest has been filled with learning and growth. I am leaving this summer with more confidence in and strategies for communicating with others, especially in empathy and conflict resolution. I am so excited for future summers when campers can be here, especially for kayaking and canoeing with campers on the beautiful Clearwater Lake!” – Abi T.

This summer we split our time at camp into 3 different areas of focus. The first focus area that we spent time with is learning how to love God, how to love ourselves, and how to show God’s love in the world… Through Zoom calls with [faith leaders] discussed our bible verse for the summer, Luke 10:27… I learned that for me, personally, I can take care of others’ needs before I can take care of my own. We talked about how to respect yourself before showing God’s love to others, which helped me a lot. I didn’t have a hard time with [showing God’s love in the world]  because this is one of my goals every day.” – Libby H.  

One thing I have taken away from this summer is communication. I have learned how to communicate better with people directly. This is a great and useful skill. Something I can’t wait to do with campers is having a Disney dance party and laughing with them.” – Sarah B. 

“One thing I will take away from this summer is how Clearwater is an ever-changing canvas that keeps getting more and more beautiful with each person who passes through its woods and waters. Getting the chance to spend quality time admiring Clearwater, and giving back some of the care and attention I received as a camper, was truly inspiring to me. I am excited to take the thoughtfulness and love that is shown at Clearwater in order to nurture more amazing relationships and strong communities in my life.” – Jack J.

Even though I had my heart set on serving the campers of Clearwater Forest this summer, God had a different direction for how he saw our summer going. And ultimately, though it was difficult at times, I am incredibly thankful for the time we had at camp this summer… Something that I have taken away from this summer, is that no matter what, it is incredibly important to take a moment or two for a little bit of silence. As an extreme extrovert, this is something that has been difficult for me, and something that can sometimes be scary… After unpacking this in devotions I learned even though the silence can sometimes be uncomfortable, it can also teach us a lot about our surroundings, our faith, and even ourselves.” – Avery A. 

St. Cloud Canoe Trip

This year, the group had the wonderful opportunity to take a one-night trip over to St. Cloud. They packed their bags, canoes, lifejackets, and paddles for the overnight adventure. Then drove from camp to the St. Cloud area where they were dropped off right next to the Mississippi River.
After a light lunch, they prepared to embark on their paddle down the river. It was a remarkably beautiful day on the river, just a few clouds and not too hot. It was such a joy to paddle and talk with fellow staff members. A lot of whom knew each other well but certainly learned a lot more about from their time together on the river.
In total, they canoed around 8 miles down the river… and phew were they tired when it was done! It was a great gift to behold the beauty of Creation with everyone on staff. After they finished, the staff made their way to First Presbyterian Church where everyone was welcomed with open and loving arms.
They spent the evening doing training, playing games, and watching movies. This was certainly a highlight of the time spent together as the 2020 Clearwater summer staff.

Summer Work Projects


Along with the typical staff training and personal development work, the summer staff spent some of their time at Clearwater doing work projects to improve Clearwater for future visitors. Below are some of the work projects they accomplished in their six weeks onsite!

  • Stained the Lakeside Worship stage

  • Spray-painted Eagle Lodge outside chairs

  • Cleared and groomed all hiking and walking trails

  • Painted the Kayak Shack

  • Painted the Boat House doors

  • Trimmed trees around the summer cabins

  • Cleaned the archery shed, high ropes shed and adventure building

  • Cleaned out and organized the Carriage House basement

  • Painted the store

  • Set up a new fire pit by old-Osprey

Summer Recap Video

Even though we weren’t able to have campers on site this summer, we still had the opportunity to affect Clearwater in so many different ways. We hope that next summer everyone will be able to share in our pride in all of our hard work that we accomplished this summer. God Loves you, and so do we!

Clearwater Forest Camp & Retreat Center