Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: Camp counselors July 24, 2015

Portrait #32: Counselors at Camp Omega, rural Waterville, Minnesota

Camp Omega counselors at July Fourth North Morristown celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013

Camp Omega counselors at July Fourth North Morristown celebration. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013

They are the faces of enthusiasm, of adventure, of leadership, energy and a passion for the outdoors. They are summer camp counselors in Minnesota. Friends, surrogate moms/dads, teachers—they are all of these and none of these. They are young people. Who care.

I never had the opportunity to attend summer camp while growing up—there was no money for such extras. But my younger siblings did. When I had children of my own, I determined they would go to summer bible camp no matter the financial sacrifice.

My girls, from kindergarten age on, every summer, went to Camp Omega near Waterville. The first time I sent my eldest away for a weekend, I wondered how I would make it through camp. Me. Not her. I survived her absence and she thrived in the serene setting of woods and water in the care of faith-focused counselors.

Amber loved Camp Omega so much that she eventually volunteered there during high school and then worked two summers as a counselor. The friendships she forged and the confidence and faith-growth she experienced were immeasurable.

Some things cannot be taught by parents at home. Some must be learned in a canoe, in a raucous competition, on a climbing wall, around a campfire roasting marshmallows, in a circle of new friends with a counselor strumming a guitar, in the top bunk of a lumpy bed with whispers in the dark and the brush of branches against roof.

Mosquito bites and sunburn. Raccoon eyes and bounce of a flashlight. Rousting out of bed and falling asleep exhausted from a day of running and screaming and breathing in all that fresh air.

Camp. Counselors. Summertime in Minnesota.


Minnesota Faces is a series featured nearly every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


In praise of German food and missions November 6, 2011

A 2009 Thanksgiving display at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

WITH THANKSGIVING only weeks away, it behooves us to begin expanding our stomachs in preparation for the big meal.

It also behooves us to focus our thoughts on thanksgiving and praise.

If you live anywhere near Faribault, you can accomplish both by attending two upcoming events at my church, Trinity Lutheran, at 530 Fourth Street Northwest, across from McDonalds. Trinity isn’t sponsoring the events, lest you think I’m specifically promoting my congregation here.

Rather Morristown-based Cannon Valley Lutheran High School and rural Waterville-based Camp Omega are coordinating these separate Sunday worship services followed by meals.

ONE WEEK FROM TODAY, on Sunday, November 13, CVLHS is offering a German Fest of Thanks and Praise at 4 p.m. followed by a supper of traditional German foods at 4:30 p.m. Attend one or both, and I’d highly recommend both, especially if you appreciate the Mother Tongue and good great German food.

The plated portion of the authentic German meal served last year by CVLHS.

I attended this Lutheran high school’s first-ever German worship service and dinner last year and enthusiastically endorse it, otherwise I wouldn’t recommend it to you here. (Click here to read a blog post from the 2010 German celebration.)

After you’ve thanked and praise, you can indulge in that ethnic meal of sauerbraten with spaetzle, sweet and sour red cabbage, bratwurst and sauerkraut, pfeffernusse and bread pudding (to die for).

And let me tell you, these Cannon Valley volunteers know how to cook.

If you want to partake in the German meal, you need to act soon. Tomorrow, Monday, November 7, is the deadline to purchase tickets, which are $13 for adults, $7 for ages 5 – 10 and free for preschoolers. Call CVLHS at (507) 685-2636.

A portion of Jesus face, photographed from a stained glass window at Trinity Lutheran Church, Faribault.

THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY, November 20, I’d suggest you return to Trinity at 2 p.m. for a two-hour “Let the People Praise!” service followed by a Camp Omega-sponsored free turkey supper. Yes, you read that right—free worship service, free food.

First the worship service, which truly is two hours long and which evolves around missions: Think of it as Mission Sunday or a mission rally or something along those lines. Missionaries involved in Hispanic, Sudanese, Hmong, Liberian, Anglo and campus ministries will participate.

There’ll be singing by a Hmong choir and Liberians and, yes, even drumming and dancing. In a Lutheran church. Would you want to miss that? I didn’t think so.

I can almost guarantee that you’ll be emotionally and spiritually moved based on the music alone. I anticipate many pastors attending this service and, boy, can they sing.

After the service, Camp Omega is sponsoring that free turkey supper several blocks away at the Faribault American Legion with Gary Thies, mission development counselor for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, as the presenter. He’s traveled to 76 countries and spoken at more than 1,250 churches throughout the U.S. I’ve heard this man speak. He’s fired up for missions. He’ll address “Missionary Ministry in our Daily Lives.”

Thies will also give messages at the 5:30 p.m. Saturday, November 19, and 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, November 20, Trinity worship services.

Anyway, organizers are hoping to fill the Trinity sanctuary and the Legion. If you want to attend the free 4:30 p.m. turkey supper on November 20 at the Legion, you must RSVP to Curt at Camp Omega, (507) 685-4266. He needs a head count soon. You can’t just walk in the door on the day of the dinner and expect to get seated. It won’t happen.

So, there you go—two wonderful opportunities to prepare for Thanksgiving.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling