Lutheran Lakeside

Providing a welcoming community for all people to find joy and purpose in creation

for over 60 years!

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Who we are

Our Story

Lutheran Lakeside Camp was established in 1959 when two Lutheran bodies, the Augustana Synod and United Lutheran Synod agreed to purchase 133 acres of farmland on East Lake Okoboji. The Camp was incorporated as an Association of 140 Lutheran churches in Iowa in 1960. The emergence of several separate Lutheran synods in Iowa created the Lutheran Church of America which took responsibility for Lakeside and provided a synod staff person annually during the summer for children and youth camping.

 

Pastors felt that much could be accomplished by bringing confirmation students for a week of camp during which several topics could be individually or team-taught. Today there are four weeks of confirmation camp with hundreds of young people attending along with their pastor(s) and youth directors. After planting what seemed like one million trees in 1960, Lakeside now has the most diverse variety of deciduous trees in Dickinson County with over 28 different trees.

Where we're going

Looking Forward

Today Lakeside welcomes thousands every year to be a part of our community. We want to emphasize healthy and sustainable relationships with all who visit us. We do this by having physically, mentally, and spiritually safe spaces and activities. We are good stewards of our resources emphasizing financial and environmental sustainability. 

It is important to us that we are inclusive to everyone. All faiths, all genders, all races, all people belong here and have a place with us. We want to be a resource to congregations, organizations, families, youth, adults, and our local community. 

Our goals are to serve others with the gifts we have been given, we will continue to serve and meet the needs of those in our community. We are grateful to have such a wonderful place that we continue to maintain, upgrade, and care for so we can continue being a place of belonging, joy, and purpose in creation serving to impact the world.

Mission

Rooted in Christ, Lakeside is a place of belonging where all people can find joy and purpose in God’s Creation.

Vision

Guided by the Spirit, Lakeside strives to be a welcoming and sustainable community serving with integrity and compassion to impact the world.

A Message From the Director

Lakeside is a wonderful space for anyone and everyone to enjoy in different ways. I’m grateful to share Lakeside with you because Lakeside changed my life in more ways than I can count and I want you to have that same opportunity. I did not grow up in the ELCA church. I left my church after confirmation because I just knew I would never be “good enough” for God. 

I was 20 when I came to Lakeside for a teambuilding retreat with a group from college. I had an 8 colored mohawk, a face full of piercings, and I knew God, as explained to me in my childhood, would disapprove. The camp staff welcomed me and my group of “outsiders” with open arms. They explained that God loved me and accepted me for who I was and wanted me to be at Lakeside and would love me any place I went. This was the first time in my life I heard of a caring, accepting, loving God who wanted to know me personally. 

I came back as a counselor that summer in 2011, and have dedicated my life to sharing that loving, caring, and accepting God with as many people as possible. Now, as the director,  I get to welcome thousands of people each year to this place and share that God. I hope you’ll visit us and experience this love for yourself.

-Britt Swanson (Camp Director)

Quotes from campers/staff

"I love this place and the experiences I’ve had here. It changes my life every time I come."

-2021 Summer Staff

"Camp is very friendly and everyone accepts who you are, I love this place, I want to be here next year so I can meet new people"

-2021 Confirmation Camper

Testimonies from guests

"The lodge in Okoboji is an outstanding cabin for any large group gathering you may have, there is plenty of places to sleep all of your guests and the cabin itself is very clean and spacious. I would highly suggest this cabin for anyone looking for a fun place to fit a large group for a trip get away!"

-Hunter Lodge Guest 2021

"The house was perfect for our group of guys- the main room was large enough for us to sit around and watch football, play cards, eat meals, etc. View was beautiful with plenty of space to throw football/frisbee around. The house was close to all activities/restaurants. Would recommend for any group or family outing! Thanks for a great weekend!"

-(Travis) Shalom Guest 2021