United States

Attending summer camp at Camp Polaris is a tradition for many families in southwest Alaska. For generations, children have eagerly boarded planes and boats to spend a week in this remote, pristine setting.

Many of these campers come from less-than-ideal homes where poverty, alcoholism, and abuse are common. Some work hard every day and carry heavy responsibilities.

Camp Polaris is an oasis where the kids can escape the challenges they face at home. They look forward all year long to this special time when they can grow closer to Jesus, play with friends, and enjoy activities from crafts to water sports.

“It’s a really big deal that these kids get to come to camp,” says Lynette, a lay pastor in Togiak, Alaska, where many of the campers live. “The fact that they can get away from the pressures of home and just be kids is huge. They struggle every day.”

Nestled between Lake Aleknagik and Jackknife Mountain in southwest Alaska is Camp Polaris, a tiny mission camp with a huge heart.
Before your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped provide Camp Polaris with hot showers, the only way for campers to get clean was to soap up in a rundown sauna and rinse off in a frigid lake.
Creative devotionals help children learn about Jesus’ love.
Putting the finishing touches on the girls’ bathhouse.
Matrona, left, and Reanna show you what your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering helped make possible.
The campers spend as much time as possible outside enjoying canoeing, swimming, and archery.

Through the years, the staff at Camp Polaris has done an incredible job of reaching out to the community children with the few resources they’ve had. But they’ve faced some real challenges. Many of the buildings were in desperate need of repair, having been built more than 60 years ago. Restroom and bathing facilities included two outhouses, a rundown sauna, and the icy waters of Lake Aleknagik.

But all of this has changed, thanks to your contributions to the first quarter 2015 Thirteenth Sabbath Offering, which provided supplies to build two bathhouses with a sauna, showers, and toilets.  

Thomas loves creating model cars and planes in the craft house.

“The new bathhouses at Camp Polaris are going to make a tremendous difference,” says Debbie, who serves as camp caretaker with her husband, Ken. “It rains a lot here, so the kids were often wet and cold. Or they’d get cold swimming in the lake. In the past, we didn’t have a way to get them dry, and sometimes they went home sick. The new saunas and hot showers will help them stay healthy. Parents who wouldn’t let their kids come to camp because they were concerned about them getting sick will send them now. That means we’ll be able to reach more kids with Jesus’ love!”

The new facilities will make it easier for the staff to reach the children spiritually because they’ll be able to focus better when they’re warm and comfortable. Camp will be extended during the summer, and this extended time will include the addition of a family camp for the community.

Campers and staff at Camp Polaris were blessed by your generous support through prayer, giving, and even letters from around the world!

“We received heartfelt notes from around the globe,” says Laurie, camp director. “I couldn’t respond to some people because I don’t speak their language, but I want everyone to know how thankful we are for your support. It’s going to make a tremendous impact for sharing the gospel here.”

Laurie Falvo
Laurie Falvo serves as the editor of Mission 360° for the Office of Adventist Mission at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters.

To watch the “Camp Polaris Revisited” video story, visit AdventistMission.org/s1714.