Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 319 Oaklawn Road in Brandenburg, has been supporting a summer camp in South Dakota for over ten years.
Robin Bowen was a member of the Holy Trinity congregation in 2000 when her dad asked her to return to her native state of South Dakota to run a summer camp he had opened there. Her dad and uncle started the summer camp on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota in 1980.
Later the camp was moved to Enemy Swim Lake, South Dakota on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation. The summer camp is called St. Andrews Junior Camp and has always been affiliated with the Episcopal church. St. James Episcopal Church is on the camp property and is part of the Sisseton Mission.
The summer camp lasts for 5 days each July and is open to 10-17 year-old underprivileged boys and girls. The area near the lake is rather isolated so the local children look forward to being able to attend the camp each summer.
Many of the children are Native Americans, but not all. When the camp first began it was only for boys and they camped in tents. In the current location they have a couple of lodges and a meeting hall with a kitchen.
All week long the campers go swimming, canoeing, do arts and crafts, and learn such things as CPR, water safety, how to identify local edible wild plants, and sewing. They are taught about God and how to pray. Robin and her staff teach the children the seven values of the Dakota people and how it dovetails into Christianity. Many of the staff members for the camp are locals that have come from other churches to help. Some of the counselors are former campers who want to help other young people experience the same blessings that they did. On the last day of camp, the staff and campers conduct a moving Holy Eucharist service in the St. James Church. Before they leave the campers are given t-shirts with that year’s camp theme printed on it, and a bag of goodies. Last year’s theme was “You Raise Me Up” and focused on how relying upon God can raise you up out of your troubles.
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brandenburg has been supporting the St. Andrew Junior Camp since 2008. Members collect items such as towels, toiletries, and canned goods. Some Holy Trinity members have driven all the way out to the camp and carried with them some items that were donated from church members. About a year ago the church provided a two person inflatable kayak for the camp and it was greatly appreciated. Robin’s sister Rachelle Thompson is a member at Holy Trinity. She has often made the trip out to the camp with a car full of donated items, and then worked as a staff member during the week of camp.
On Sunday February 23, Robin and her husband Smokey visited the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Brandenburg and took part in the song service, where they sang hymns in the Dakota language. Following the service, a blessing was given over the items that church members had donated. Then Robin and Smokey’s car was loaded up with the items to take back to the camp in South Dakota.
Among the items were several small window air conditioners that were anonymously donated. These air conditioners will be greatly appreciated at the camp.
The members of Holy Trinity feel blessed to be able to have a part in providing items needed at St. Andrews Junior Camp. They know that their donations are a missionary outreach to children in South Dakota who might not otherwise be able to attend a summer camp.