Camp staff from Camp Lutherwood Oregon history take a look back on their summers in the sun.

keep on camping



Thaddeus Golbek (Corvallis, Ore.)Thaddeus Golbek
(Summer 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013)

Favorite memory:
One of my favorite memories has to be the all-camp games. It is a time when everyone is having the peak amount of fun in the day.

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
While working at camp I learned how to appreciate nature and the outdoors. Whether it is cool and quiet mornings or scorching summer afternoons, my favorite place is now out in the forest on a hike or backpacking through the mountains. I would have to thank my summers at camp for that.

Advice for incoming staff:
My advice for incoming staff is to never underestimate the power of coffee. On a serious note, though — practice telling stories as much as you can. There will be many times when you have to fill a very short amount of time and a story is perfect for those situations.


Rachel Morris (Eugene, Ore.)Rachel Morris
(Spring 2003 – Fall 2008)

Favorite memory:
The fun we had with Sunday Night Kick Off Campfires. The crazy name machine, the silly answer machine, and the awesome energy as we introduced the week to campers.

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
I have come to realize that I have a lot more to offer the world when I’m working as part of a team. People inspire me, but groups of people really get me motivated and involved.

Advice for incoming staff:
Don’t be shy. Try things out! Not many other places and times in your live will you be in such a supportive environment! Also, pray about your campers before you meet them. …Then get ready for an amazing journey… both weekly (with each new group of campers) and throughout the summer (as a staffer). I first went to work as a summer staffer because I knew I needed to change … how I interacted with the world and with people. It truly became a place for me to change… a place where I learned to love myself through the eyes of the campers and the staff.


Pastor Joe Medley (Salem, Ore.)Pastor Joe
(Summer 1974, 1975, 1976 at Camp Colton)

Favorite memory:
Flipping a coin to choose a favorite memory for me would never do as there are too many. I can tell you about two traumatic ones, however.
Seeing with my own eyes that each week when the cement swimming pool got drained there were always two or three lamprey stuck to the bottom like leeches. (You chlorinated pool people have it so easy.)
Then there was the time playing one-on-one volleyball in the indoor chapel with my friend Don Johnson. A bat started flying around the room. Well I had the ball you see, and in my defense I honestly thought they had better radar and could fly fancier than they actually do. They can’t. My first funeral.

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
I got to do it all in my years at Camp Colton. I was a counselor, backpack/canoe guide, and a cook. I went to camp to discern my calling as a pastor. By the time I left I found my faith, my call, my confidence and friends. Those were the 3 best summers of my life.

Advice for incoming staff:
If you have a chance to spend a summer at camp with kids who don’t yet understand what it means to be loved by God, and a staff who want to show them, seize it.


Peter Johnson (Happy Valley, Ore.)pete johnson
(Summer 1982, 1983 at Camp Colton and summer 1984, 1985)

Favorite memory:
Only one?? While I loved the campers, being outdoors, and doing the good work of outdoor ministry, it has to be the life long friendships made with my staff friends. Friendships that have lasted through college and to this day!

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
Well, my life was irrevocably changed when I met my wife Janet (Camp Lutherwood staff ’83-85) on the gravel road outside of the red barn on that fateful first day of staff training in summer 1983. Our daughter Emily, who is a sophomore at Western Washington University, followed in her parents’ footsteps as a Camp Lutherwood Oregon staff member during summers 2014 and 2015. So I guess I would say camp has had a major impact on my life!!

Advice for incoming staff:
Sing more, sing loud, sing often. Share with your campers your love of God through your good humor, ever-present silliness, and just being yourself. Cherish the friendships you will make — they will last a lifetime.


Lori (Wing) and Peter Kugler (Springfield, Ore.)
(Summer 1977)

It was much smaller in those days — we had 6 counselors on staff and a program director. It was before the ropes course and all the outlying camps. I do have great memories of the kids, especially the week we had kids with developmental disabilities. Loved the evening campfires and the nights we slept outside. (As a matter of fact) that is where Peter and I met… At family camp over the Fourth!


Michael Kuhn (Las Vegas, NV)Michael Kuhn
(Summer 2010)

Favorite memory:
One of my favorite memories from camp was helping create The NIGHTATHALON, but my absolute favorite moments involved performing the Chinese tea ceremony for campers.

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
My experience at Lutherwood ultimately helped me decide to get my Master’s of Arts in Teaching degree so that I could teach students. I now teach 150+ students in three sections each of 7th and 8th English at Faith Lutheran Middle and High School in Las Vegas.

Advice for incoming staff:
Be who you are. Bring all of your creativity, heart, passion, and personality to camp and you will do well.


Debbie Sandau (Salem, Ore.)deb sandau
(Summer 1981 combined at Camp Colton/Lutherwood)

Favorite memory:
Probably some of the best memories are the relationships formed with the other staff members. I also had the great pleasure of remembering the fun times with the use of the “red barn.” The memory that comes back to me the most is the week we had at Camp Colton and serving the campers with developmental disabilities. I remember how excited they were just to be at camp and doing the activities. We would go on short hikes and they would think they had climbed a mountain.

How has your experience at camp impacted your life today?
I feel that summer showed me that no matter how big or small the camp is in size, or the activities that it can offer, it is the relationships that are formed first with our Lord, second with other staff members and thirdly with the campers is what makes me a supporter of Camp Lutherwood Oregon today.

Advice for incoming staff:
I would encourage future staff to realize how important they are in influencing our campers with the Lord. They may never know how that act of kindness, or a hug, or that prayer can make a huge difference in a camper’s life. That is why Camp Lutherwood Oregon, the staff and the campers are always in my prayers.


What’s your Lutherwood story? Join us as we celebrate decades of dedicated staff on July 2nd at camp! Learn more here!

This story was originally published in the spring 2016 edition of the Camp Lutherwood Post. View the full newsletter here or contact our office to request a paper copy (office@lutherwoodoregon.org).

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