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.
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.
Rooted in Christ, Lakeside is a place of belonging where all people can find joy and purpose in God’s Creation.
Guided by the Spirit, Lakeside strives to be a welcoming and sustainable community serving with integrity and compassion to impact the world.
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 (Executive Director)