The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Taking the weekend 'off'

Camp Onomia offers military families a free July 4th break

"See, it’s like a flag,” said Nikki Harris, 9. She dipped her brush into red paint, then blue, decorating a photo frame to send to her dad, Michael, stationed in Iraq.

Last year Nikki and her family enjoyed a free July 4th weekend at Camp Onomia, an ELCA outdoor ministry in Onomia, Minn. Support and funding for the weekend comes from ELCA congregations, community organizations and the Minnesota National Guard.

Dan Harris baits his fishing line.
Dan Harris baits his fishing line. His family enjoys a free weekend at Camp Onomia in Onomia, Minn., while his dad serves in Iraq. His dad “is really into hunting and fishing, so he is too,” said his mother, Lawre Harris.

While Nikki painted, her mother, Lawre Harris, watched—a soft, relaxed look on her face. Nikki’s brother, Dan, tried to organize a shuffleboard game. A counselor carried another brother, David, completely exhausted from running around, to a makeshift nursery. “That’s good,” his mother said with a laugh, pointing at the sleeping tot. The Harrises worship at Lord of Life, an ELCA congregation in Baxter, Minn.

Since counselors took care of the nursery and activities for children, parents and grandparents had time to relax. No meals to prepare. No dishes or other chores to be done. Just a weekend of Bible studies, campfires, canoe trips, fishing, swimming, games, fireworks, reading and relaxing on the beach for about 10 families with a loved one who has served or is serving in the Middle East.

Camp Onomia could have accommodated many more families, said director Julie Smith.

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February issue


Embracing diversity