Camp Update!

2019 Ortoha Youth Camp Begins This Sunday!

The week we’ve been waiting for all year has finally arrived! High schoolers will be kicking off the youth camp season at Ortoha this coming Sunday, July 21st. Check out the full 2019 camp schedule below, in addition to details about Mission Fest Sunday, and the staff who will be serving our high school campers this year.

2019 Camp Schedule:

  • High School Week

    • Sun. July 21 - Fri. July 26

    • Registration opens on Sunday at 3 pm, camp starts at 5 pm

    • Camp ends at 1 pm on Friday

  • Grade School Week

    • Sun. July 28 - Thur. Aug. 1

    • Registration opens on Sunday at 3 pm, camp starts at 5 pm

    • Camp ends at 3 pm on Thursday

  • Middle School Week

    • Sun. Aug. 4 - Thur. Aug 8

    • Registration opens on Sunday at 3 pm, camp starts at 5 pm

    • Camp ends at 3 pm on Thursday

Mission Fest Sunday & Potluck

Your are invited! Please join us for church in the Gazebo building at Camp Ortoha on Sunday, July 28th at 11 am. This is a cherished annual tradition, as well as an excellent opportunity to worship God surrounded by His beautiful creation. Our speaker will be Clark Kraemer, and his message is titled "Living Life with Your Hands Open." Our world-famous potluck will follow the service. Feel free to stay as long as you like and take advantage of the close proximity to Lost Lake, Strawberry Mountain, and the Big Trees. Mark your calendars - we look forward to seeing you there!

Meet the High School Week Staff:

  • Cooks: Amy Schertlin & Rev. Alan Visser

    • This is an incredible father/daughter duo who have come together for yet another year of service and delicious flavors!

    • Amy is an Ortoha alumni and her father acted as a speaker at camp on many occasions. They have traveled a long way to be here, but they’re enthusiasm for the Ortoha experience, and their mastery in the kitchen is sure to bless our campers greatly!

  • Speakers: Rev. Steve Nickodemus & Rev. Tim Winterstein

    • Both pastors have been speakers at Ortoha before and they’re dedicated to the good work God is doing through the ministry of Camp Ortoha. We’re so thankful to have them!


Grade School Week Update!

Many thanks to all those who attended our Mission Fest Sunday service at Ortoha. It was a pleasure to hear from speaker Kennedy Duck Crabtree about the incredible work of Resonate Church, and what an amazing way to kick off Grade School Week - the biggest registration week of them all! We have 53 campers at Ortoha right now! You can bet it one very LOUD, very ACTIVE campground this week! Director Brian has fantastic things to say about all his Grade School Week counselors, though, and they are doing an great job of leading the campers in activities. Our speakers are Rev. Shawn Neider and Becky Loch, who is a Para Educator with the Grand Coulee Dam School District. As previously introduced, our cooks this week are father/daughter duo Pastor Alan Visser and Amy Schertlen. 

We have a big shout out to Byers Market in Tonasket who, for many years in a row now, has made copies of the annual "Ortoha camper and staff" picture for all our campers free of charge! It is a wonderful, generous gift, and sending each camper home with a reminder of their summer fun can't be beat!

Stay tuned - we'll share more updates as they become available. 


Camp Updates & Kudos to Our Cooks!

It's been an amazing week at camp so far and our campers still have an entire day left of fun! High School Week ends tomorrow afternoon (July 27th) at 1 p.m. Many thanks to all those who helped us spread the word this year - we had 18 High School campers sign up! As for next week, we already have 48 pre-registered for Grade School! 

In addition to thanking our hard-working director and speakers this week, who we introduced in our last post, we want to give an extra special thanks to our cooks this year: father/daughter duo Pastor Alan Visser and Amy Schertlen. They are enjoying their second consecutive year serving our campers, and will be cooking all meals for all three weeks of camp. What amazing work they do! They both travel many hours to be here from British Columbia, and have quite a long history of Camp Ortoha involvement. Alan grew up in this area and attended Ortoha as a camper throughout his youth. He returned later after becoming a pastor to serve on many occasions as a camp speaker. Attending camp each year quickly turned into a family tradition for the Vissers, and his daughter Amy attended as a camper throughout her school years, as well. How wonderful it is to have two particularly dedicated, talented and experienced cooks serving our campers! 

The forecast is still looking lovely for us this year which means afternoons at the lake will be especially wonderful. We ask that you pray for our wonderful staff members, including the counselors who will be joining our campers next week, in addition to all our 2018 campers. May many incredible friendships grow stronger and may fellowship flourish! 


Mission Fest Sunday & High School Week

Immanuel Lutheran Church's annual Mission Festival was held Sunday, July 30 with an outdoor celebration service in the Gazebo and attended by many locals and former residents, members, campers and staff members. Deacon Paul Schuldheisz led the service and our speaker was Rev. Dr. Harald Schoubye of Winnipeg, Canada. Worshipers were treated to an interesting and entertaining PowerPoint presentation as he explained his work in seminary education in South Africa, Ethiopia, Ukraine and India. He and his wife, Cynthia, will be returning to Ukraine this September. The Schoubyes will be back to Ortoha to lead Bible Study during Middle School week. 

The well-attended service was followed by the potluck, which lived up to its reputation. If we were light on anything this year, it may have been chocolate, but the desserts were amazing and it looks like it has been an outstanding year for the berry family of fruits! Friends near and far enjoyed catching up on the "news," going for a swim and picking those plentiful huckleberries.

Eightteen kids registered for High School Camp week which began with ice breakers and swimming at the lake. Jim and Kim Helleson are back this year (with young assistants, grandchildren Jimmie and Luci), lots of great lessons and plenty of shenanigans too! Connie Kuhlmann and Jayne Bowes have some fun crafts planned. Cooks Amy and her dad, Alan are putting out quite the spread at every meal. Oh, doesn't it make you wish you could go to camp?

News from Grade School Week!

Here's the latest report for camp!

What the cooks had to say:

It is Wednesday night and the 35 energetic grade-school campers plus staff were served spaghetti, Cesar Bacon Salad and garlic bread. I think the only thing not home-made were the spaghetti noodles! Even the bread was Amy's recipe. Head Cook Amy and her dad, Pastor Alan Visser prefer to make most meal items from scratch. They say they always have a little food leftover but are pleased with how very little waste there is.  They have also been making fresh fruit available throughout the day and the kids are enjoying that. It seems to cut down on cookie consumption too! Another surprise was that they found these kids go for yogurt topped with granola! Oh, they still get plenty of eggs, sausage, bacon, pancakes and french toast - but this morning they went through five quarts of yogurt with Amy's homemade strawberry topping! Thanks to our hardworking cooks, who will be back for high school and middle school camps.

Meet a couple of our counselors:

Netsanette is a June graduate of Ferris High School in Spokane, a fourth generation Ortoha camper and an experienced Ortoha counselor. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. When she was 5 years old, she and her older brothers were adopted by John and Amy of Spokane. She would like to become a primary grade school teacher but before she continues her education, she has accepted a position as an au pair (nanny) for a French family who live just outside of Paris. While in France she hopes to continue her dance training. Throughout her young life she has developed skills and talent in many forms of dance. She will be moving to France in late August and we wish her well on this new adventure!

Alex began attending Ortoha in 5th grade and this is his 7th year serving as a counselor. He is a 2014 Cashmere HS graduate, receiving both his HS and AA diplomas, thanks to Running Start. This June he graduated from Western Washington U. in Bellingham with a double major in Molecular Biology and Neuroscience. He plans to take this year off to work in the medical field and to prepare for his M-Cat exams and then apply to medical school. Alex enjoys kayaking, hiking, biking and deep sea fishing and he hopes to travel the world.

We are grateful to all of our fine and dedicated counselors! Director Brian chooses carefully, trains them well, and expects a lot from them.

More Excitement in Store for Middle School Week!

A whopping 34 campers are up at Ortoha this week making new memories and meeting new friends! In addition to our director, Brian Bowes, they will also be lead by our two speakers, Rev. Alan Visser and Deaconess Ruth Ann Shimoi. 

Rev. Visser is an Ortoha alumni as a camper, counselor, speaker and dean! We are always so blessed to have him return to camp from British Columbia and inspire another group of youngsters. Deaconess Ruth Ann Shimoi is joining us from Bellevue, WA where she serves at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. We know the kids are going to love the enthusiasm she brings to leading and group activities. 

It looks like the forecast will be great for the campers this week. They will have a mix of some sunshine and clouds, but it looks like the last day of camp is expected to be very warm and bright. Perhaps an afternoon at the lake before picking up the campers at 7 p.m. might be called for! 

Lastly, we want to share a big Thank You message to all those who help out during the weekends between camps. There are groceries to deliver, counselor prep-work to complete, and many errands to run. We appreciate everyone's hard work and support! 

Humor of Olympic Proportions

A total of 15 kids are attending High School Week and our speakers are going all-out to bring them some hilarity! Kim & Jim Helleson are long-time Ortoha supporters and have been directly involved with ministry through Young Life for many years. They have joined forces with Rick Herzer this week to provide some Young Life-style comic relief.

Rick and Jim have been perfecting a body builder skit that ties in nicely to the Summer Olympics currently being held in South America. It sounds like their characters, "Hans" and "Franz," will make many appearances throughout the week when the kids least expect it! 

Knowing their audience, Kim and Jim have also worked a bit of technology into their program, as they plan to use a large projector in the Gazebo to show a short video during one of the bible study talks. We are looking forward to hearing more about how the kids like both the ongoing skit and the great lesson content. 

We want to take a moment to thank Dennis & Cheri Watson who came over from the west side of the state to speak at last Sunday's Mission Festival service. It was wonderful to hear about all the work and love being poured out in the Neah Bay area. As always, thanks to the many helping hands who contributed to the delicious potluck lunch that followed, as well! It never disappoints!

Please remember to lift up all the campers and leaders in your prayers this week and help us spread the word the Middle School Week is just around the corner. We appreciate it!  

Last Day of Grade School Week!

Some news came down the hill today from camp and we are excited to share it with you! 
On Wednesday the campers had a great hike up Strawberry Mt. (for those who haven't been, it provides an incredible view of Lost Lake from the top!). 

After all that physical exertion, the campers were treated to the traditional Wednesday night camp feast of roast turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, coleslaw and carrot cake for dessert! (Kudos to our cooks, Millie and Georgia!)

A few campers go Polar Bearing in the morning, but this had to be cancelled Tuesday morning due to thunder. But all is well! The weather has otherwise been warm and clear. 
In arts/crafts, the campers have been creating tiles and sun catchers. Today they will "frame" their 2016 camp group photo.

The speakers this week, Jeanette and Sarah, have been outstanding. We appreciate all the love and planning they've put into their positions! 

Everyone is having a wonderful camp experience, but we are sure they will be happy to see you this evening at 7 p.m. after a full day of scheduled activities. We are all looking forward to hearing more hilarious and exciting stories about their week!

A Great Start to Grade School Week!

We had a total of 29 amazing kids sign up for Grade School camp and they enjoyed a great evening of fun, food and activities. They had a delicious dinner of hot dogs and chili, and were treated to an great variety of homemade cookies supplied by the members of Immanuel Havillah Lutheran Church.

The temperature up at camp was just perfect; not too hot, not too cold. The counselors were very welcoming and were already playing games with the kids well before 5 p.m. start of camp. And they sure looked spiffy in their new camp staff shirts!

Speaking of the new shirts, we'll try to get some pictures posted for you soon so you can see the new styles for sale. We also have hats available for purchase this year. They come in three styles: baseball, trucker and beanie. 

We'll keep sending you updates, so don't forget to check back for more camp news! 

And the Award Goes To....

Time flies! The 2015 Ortoha Youth Camp season has officially concluded. We couldn't be more pleased with the wonderful turnout - from Mission Fest Sunday straight through Middle School Week. We want to thank all those who helped spread the word about our incredible camp. We also want to extend our deepest gratitude toward all those dedicated, inspired and caring people who served the campers; the speakers, the cooks, the incredible counselors, the director, Arts & Crafts coordinators and all those behind the scenes. And to the many parents! Who traveled far and wide to bring their youngsters to experience our little slice of paradise. Thank you for playing your special part in helping these kids experience the fun and fellowship that Ortoha has to offer.

The middle school camp concluded this evening and the week was a great success. With 31 wonderful campers, there was a lot of excitement in the air! They had a wonderful week of sunny weather which was perfect for all the outdoor recreation activities in the program. We are looking forward to hear more from our campers about the week, but until then, here is a little update that arrived as of Wednesday night: 

As you may know, the campers from each cabin compete for certain categories of cleanliness each day. The cabin with the best effort gets one point for each day they win a given category. As of Wednesday night,  here were the results: 


Clean Cabin Award - The Golden Broom

Fir 2
Pine 1
Larch 0

Clean Bathroom Award - The Coveted Golden Toilet Plunger

All 3 cabins were all tied up!

Quietest Cabin - The Golden Zzz's Award

Fir was in the lead!

Kudos to Bailey H. for offering help during crafts on Tuesday, assisting 6-7 campers with their para cord craft and putting in extra help with KP duty! Many thanks, also, to Chad for handling KP set-up almost single-handedly on Wednesday!

News from the High Schoolers

Some news came down the hill from Camp Ortoha yesterday evening and we are excited to share an update about how High School Week is going! 

The kids are having a great time! In addition to lots of dodge ball and recreation, they have been enjoying the Bible Study and Topic Study sessions quite a bit. They have also been having fun making an Arts & Crafts/service project by tying fleece blankets 
for homeless shelters. This is a project that all 3 weeks of camp will be participating in, so it's extra fun to do something that all the age ranges can contribute to. 

Cooks Sandi and Beth served the traditional Wednesday evening menu of Thanksgiving dinner to the campers and staff. After dinner it came to camp's attention that Director Brian had an item in the Lost and Found. If you have ever been an Ortoha camper, you know the penalty is that you have to "sing for it." The campers unanimously demanded that he sing  his specialty, Tevye's  "If I Were a Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof. This was followed by long, loud and appreciative applause and cheers. As always, the cooks are outdoing themselves by preparing Oven Baked French Toast for breakfast this morning.

The kids got a little bit of a rain shower on Monday, but have been having sunny weather other than that.

We are excited to hear more from them when they come back down on Friday afternoon! Let us know if you have any questions about picking up your camper. 

The Kids Are Having a Ball

We just got news from Camp Ortoha are we are excited to share it! All the campers are happy and healthy. Here are some snippets from a few campers that we interviewed today: 

  • Macy's favorite thing about camp is meeting new people and going to the lake
  • Bo's favorite thing about camp is Rec time
  • Ella has made lots of new friends
  • Lucia's favorite meal was the chicken enchiladas
  • Aja likes swimming and has made new friends
  • Alyssa wants to be a counselor someday
  • Meladie's favorite Arts & Craft project was the key chain she made

Tonight the campers were treated to a Thanksgiving-style feast tonight of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, bacon and dessert! Our amazing cooks, Sandi and Beth, outdid themselves! 

Many thanks, also, to our two wonderful speakers this week: Amy Schretlen, who is joining us from British Columbia, and Pastor Mark Hein from Wenatchee. The theme for their Bible Study & Topic Study sessions this week has been: "Extraordinary to Ordinary: How God uses ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results through the power of the Holy Spirit."

Our Grade School Week of camp will conclude tomorrow night at 7 p.m. after a full day of activities. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about picking your child up. We are looking forward to hearing more of their wonderful stories! 

Grade School Week Has Begun!

The 2015 season of Camp Ortoha is off to a wonderful start! With a few last-minute registrations trailing in, we had a total of 24 grade schoolers at the start of camp yesterday evening. The Ortoha counselors greeted each new camper as they arrived and helped get their belongings to their assigned cabin. The kids had a great time getting to know each other during the traditional "ice breaker" games. They also had the thrill of listening to some thunder nearby. The camp got a heavy dose of rain as the evening got underway, but we always welcome that; it helps keep the dust down and makes the whole area smell incredible.

Many thanks to all those who traveled far and wide to attend the Mission Fest Sunday service yesterday morning! It was very moving to see the joy that Camp Ortoha has brought to so many generations. We were honored to have alumni campers from every decade in attendance. We also thank all those who contributed to the delicious potluck lunch that followed the service. As always, it was a feast! 

Please remember to return to this page as the weeks progress for more updates about how our campers are doing. We will try to provide information as it becomes available. 

Camp Starts Tomorrow!

The time has finally arrived! The Grade School week of camp  starts tomorrow! 

Many hours have logged preparing for the kick-off of camp this year. After all, we have a LOT to celebrate; we are celebrating 70 years of fun, building friendships and having fellowship in the great outdoors! We hope that you'll join us tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. to attend our Mission Fest Sunday service, followed by a potluck lunch. (And if you have come in years past, you know it is a feast worthy of the drive!) 

We are so thankful to be celebaring such a long and rich camp history. We are even more honored and thrilled that so many newcomers will be enjoying the Camp Ortoha experience this year! With the help of a few articles (one even published in the Wenathcee World!) and plenty of word-of-mouth efforts, we were able to spread the message far and wide about just how great the camping experience is at Ortoha.

Tucked away in the Okanogan National Forest, and located within walking distance from Lost Lake, Ortoha provides a lovely setting where kids can enjoy recreation, games, swimming, crafts, singing around the campfire, devotions, delicious meals and study time. The dedicated staff work hard to create a welcoming and caring environment where each child feels included. 

With the use of our newly designed website, we will be able to keep parents more in the know this year during the camp week. We hope to post updates about the theme, the speakers, and how much fun the kids are having as the weeks progress. So be sure to come back to our website often and visit the "News" button for new info! 

We look forward to seeing all those who will attend Mission Fest tomorrow, and we wish all the campers and their parents a wonderful drive through the beautiful north central Washington region.