Camp StarTrail

Ashland, Nebraska
August 2–7, 2009

Camp StarTrail is a multigenerational summer camp experience to explore and celebrate Unitarian Universalism in the beautiful rolling hills of the Platte River Valley. Located 30 minutes west of Omaha, just off I-80.

Welcoming singles, couples, families of all ages — where every individual is valued and UU community is created.

Morning celebration service with theme speaker, Music Programming for children and youth, Workshops, Water activities, Evening vespers, Campfire Talent show, Rocking chairs to sit and read while enjoying the quiet of the woods, lake and sky.

Photo courtesy of Carol Joy Holling Retreat Center

Links are at right -->

pdf StarTrail Brochure 2009 (313 KB)

Retrieved from PSD pmwiki/CampStarTrail2009/CampStarTrail2009 Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 12:40 PM

Ropes and Challenge courses will be offered Monday through Wednesday from 3:15 – 5:15 p.m.

Rope Course

Schedule Monday

Grades 1 through adults
Low ropes. Fun games and activities that require the entire group to work together as a team. Swinging ladder; Tarzan swing; Spider’s Web; River crossing; Wild woozey; Trust Fall. Up to 30 people, $10 per person. Sign up when you arrive at camp.


Grades 6 through adults
Zip line. The Zip Line will send you soaring off the edge of Angel’s Cliff, a nearly 22 foot drop-off, and across the depths of the ravine, in a heavy-duty safety harness and helmet; a ride that’s 200 feet long. Up to 20 participants, $10 per person. Sign up when you arrive at camp.


Grades 1 – adults
Summit Course. Four different climbing activities: rope ladder, climbing wall, tube net, and vertical play pen, plus high wire activities for people grades 4 and older. Up to 20 people, $10 per person. Sign up when you arrive at camp.


Thursday activity has been moved to Tuesday.

Commitment Trail

Commitment Trail course has been cancelled.

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 01:12 PM

Nursery Care Schedule

Childcare will be available for infants through two-year olds from 8:45 to 11:45 AM and 1:30 to 3:15 PM.Each child who attends the Nursery needs to provide an adult for one day, to assist the children’s leaders.

Children’s Preschool Program Schedule

for age 3 to pre-kindergarten

Each child who attends the Children’s Program needs to provide an adult for one day, to assist the children’s leaders.

8:45 – 9:15 AM Attend Morning Celebration with whole camp
9:15 – 10:30 AM Circle Time (Songs and Stories)
Art, Sensory, Manipulative activities around Children’s Story Theme from Morning Celebration
10:30 – 11:00 AM Music
11:00 – 11:45 AM Outdoor Free play
1:30 – 3:15 PM Quiet Activities until 2:00 PM
Outdoor Exploration

Children’s Elementary Program Schedule

for Kindergarten–6th Grade

Each child who attends the Children’s Program needs to provide an adult for one day, to assist the children’s leaders.

8:45 – 9:15 AM Attend Morning Celebration with whole camp
9:15 – 10:00 AM Choir
10:00 – 11:45 AM Theme will be coordinated with Children’s Story presented during Morning Celebration
Art Workshop: Several different mediums will be used to illustrate the theme. OR
Community Building: Games, projects and hands on activities will be used to illustrate the theme.
1:30 – 3:15 PM Drama Workshop: Plays, skits and role plays will be used to illustrate the theme. OR
Outdoor Adventure: Natural scavenger hunt and environmental education will be led by Susan Stringer and Ginny Malcomson.

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 12:51 PM

Is it possible to register for just a day or two?

Yes, see Partial Week Registration for the daily fees and registration process.

Can I bring my pets to camp?

Guest pets are not allowed.

Where can I go for groceries, gas, cash, medications, etc?

Amenities in Ashland, Nebraska (about two miles from Camp):

  • No Frills Supermarket, 2301 Silver Street
  • Reid’s Variety Store, 1401 Silver Street
  • Ashland Pharmacy, Inc, located in Reid’s Variety, 1401 Silver Street
  • Ashland Care Clinic, 705 N 17th Avenue
  • U-Stop gas station and convenience store, 502 Highway 6
  • Great Plains Service [propane], Highway 6
  • Farmers & Merchants National Bank [ATM]
  • Centennial Bank, 2433 Silver Street
  • Dairy Cone, 1609 Silver Street
  • Iron Horse Golf Club [public course]
  • A variety of antique and gift shops and restaurants

What else is available to do in this area?

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 12:47 PM


For our camp, we are renting Carol Joy Holling Conference and Retreat Center from the Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries. CJH is located on 317 acres, just off I-80, west of the Platte River between Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska. CJH is located at the end of Ranch Road off Highway 66 between Interstate 80 and Ashland, Nebraska. Look at to see more photos of the camp’s features.

Directions If you are coming on I-80, take Exit 426 off I-80. Turn toward Ashland and go 2.5 miles past Mahoney State Park to the Ranch Road access road. Watch for the “Carol Joy Holling Center” directional sign. If you are coming from north of Ashland on Highway 66, come through Ashland, cross Highway 6, and continue 1.25 miles, then turn onto the Ranch Road access road. Watch for the “Carol Joy Holling Center” directional sign. Carpooling

To share a ride to the event, please use our Carpool tool. (not currently available)

Arrival Schedule

Camp StarTrail begins on Sunday, August 2, 2009Plan to arrive between 1:30 – 3:00 p.m. for sign in and directions to your housing. We’ll offer tours of the camp and an orientation session before Trail Head [outdoor activity for all ages] at 5:30 and supper at 6:00 p.m.

Departure Schedule

Camp StarTrail ends on Friday, August 7, 2009 after lunch.


Meals will be served in the dining hall (located in Sjogren), a new and accessible building. Breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. Lunch is at noon. Supper is at 6:00 p.m. Snacks for youth and adults are not available between meals unless you bring your own. Children will be provided snacks during the Morning and Afternoon Children’s Program. Vegetarian meals are an option; indicate your preference on the registration form.

Got an Idea for a Workshop or Activity?

Participants are invited to list on the registration form workshops or activities they’d be willing to lead at camp. The Program Committee will contact them.

Alcohol use

Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries has a strict alcohol use policy. Because of the policies of the camp we are renting, these procedures for the use of alcohol must be followed:

People may bring alcohol for their own consumption to Camp StarTrail. All alcohol must be signed in at the time of arrival. All bottles and cans will be marked with the owner’s name. Alcohol will be stored in a secured area at Swanson Center. Alcohol will be made available to the owners between 5:30 and 6 p.m. each afternoon, and between 9:30 and 10:00 p.m. each evening, and must be consumed during that time, in one designated Social Room at Swanson Center. No children or youth may be present during the consumption of alcohol. Volunteers will be needed to rinse containers and take them home for recycling.

Non-smoking Policy

Smoking is not allowed in buildings at Camp. There are smoking towers outside some of the buildings. Fire is a hazard at camp. Use the receptacles provided.

Quiet Hours

Quiet hours begin at 10 p.m. Be respectful of families with children asleep before 10. Quiet hours are in effect in all buildings and public spaces, including outdoors.

Age Requirements

StarTrail welcomes adult singles and couples and families of all ages. High School age and younger participants are welcome as part of a family group.

Special Needs

There is ADA accessibility and an elevator in Swanson Center. There is a paved walk between Swanson Center and the dining hall (located in Sjogren). Most camp activities will take place in or near those buildings. Most other locations accessible by car on gravel roads, and the CJH staff will transport people in golf carts or a van, if needed.

Please let us know your needs on the housing form. That information will help us decide on housing assignments.

Medical Personnel

A meeting of participants with medical training will be held early in the week. As needs arise, those people may be called on for first aid or assistance in assessing emergency situations.


If you have questions, call or email the District Office.

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 12:46 PM

(Photos courtesy of Mark Seaburg, Julie Enersen and Nancy Heege.)

More Camp StarTrail 2009 Photos

Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons

Leader for the Morning Celebration and a workshop later in the morning

Kendyl GibbonsThe Reverend Doctor Kendyl Gibbons is a life-long Unitarian Universalist, who currently serves as senior minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. She graduated from the College of William and Mary and Meadville/Lombard Theological School, and now teaches at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and the Humanist Institute. She has served as President of the UU Ministers Association, and is a published author in Parenting Beyond Belief and the hymnbook Singing the Living Tradition.

Rev. Jim Eller Host for Camp StarTrail

Rev. Jim Eller will provide our welcome, our announcements, and will be a “go to” person for us. He has been serving All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Kansas City, MO, as senior minister since1999. He has been a UU minister for more than 25 years, previously serving churches in Peoria, IL, and in Tulsa and Tahlequah, OK. Jim also has been a hospital chaplain and is an AAPC-certified pastoral counselor. A life-long Unitarian, he is a religious liberal and a graduate of the Starr King School for the Ministry, a UU seminary in Berkeley, Calif.

Jim is President of the UU Council on Congregationally Based Community Organizing and serves on the national IOI –Interfaith Organizing Initiative – the council of CBCOs and Interfaith Justice Funding organizations. Jim is also on the citizen’s advisory board for KKFI-the Kansas City community radio station. Jim was the President of the Prairie Star UU District Minister’s Association for four years. He is active in BGLT cultural and civil rights. He has been President of the Board of the Oklahoma Regional AIDS Interfaith Network.

Jim describes himself as a “practicing pluralist” because his wife, Jeannie Himes, is a United Methodist minister. They have two sons, Sam and Shaun. He is an avid cyclist, an active parent, and a social activist.

Rev. Mark Stringer Chaplain and Evening Vespers leader

Mark has been serving as minister of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines since August 2001. Mark, a native of Akron, OH, is a graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago and holds an MA degree in theatre from Bowling Green State University and a BA degree in theatre and English from Ashland University. Mark has been an active leader in the central-Iowa Industrial Areas Foundation affiliate AMOS (A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy) and has served as a board member of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa, an organization he chaired from 2004-2006. On August 31, 2007, in the front yard of his Des Moines home, Mark had the honor of officiating Iowa’s first (and only, for now) legal same-sex wedding. He received the UUA’s 2007 Westwood Grant, an award that “goes to a UU minister who has shown an exceptional entrepreneurial spirit in congregational leadership over a period of five years.” Mark and his wife Susan are proud parents of their daughter, Leah.

Moira Leu Music Director for Camp StarTrail, working with the Morning Celebration, the Children’s Choir, and other musical events

Moira Leu

Moira has been the Director of Music at First Unitarian Church in Des Moines IA since July 2008. She graduated from Morningside College with a Bachelor of Music Education in 1999. She is a member of UUMN (Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network) and ICDA (Iowa Choral Director’s Association). Moira lives in Des Moines with her husband Brad and two dogs, Sydney and Stella.

Bruce Van Bronkhorst Accompanist working with Moira on the Morning Celebration, the Children’s Choir, and other musical events

Bruce really enjoys music and sharing music. He’s the music director at Michael Servetus Unitarian Society in Fridley MN, where he directs the choir, the wind ensemble, and leads and plays in the Delphi Jazz Trio and Class Act Quintet and saxophone quartet.

Laura Shennum Leader of the Children’s Program

Laura is the Director of Religous Education at Second Unitarian Church in Omaha, NE. She is very active in promoting family and children involvement in the church. She is the mother of three children. She enjoys reading, playing with her kids and cooking. Laura has recently been accepted as a seminary student at Meadville Lombard.

Workshop Leaders Eric Banner, Anna Kohler Smith, and Sherry Warren Leader of OWL for Young Adults workshops

Eric is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist, and former chair of the Board at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Manhattan. He’s currently working as an environmental scientist for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment specializing in water quality. He has a wife and two daughters, and spends his free time riding his bicycle and landscaping. He’s been accepted to theological school and will begin working on his Masters of Divinity in preparation for UU ministry in the fall of 2009.

Anna is a tall glass of water. A Kansas City native, she has worked in several areas of public health: the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center at the University of Kansas Cancer Center, Planned Parenthood, and on HIV issues in West Africa. She is passionate about good sex education that helps participants learn their values, practice good communication, and honor sexuality’s wonderful diversity. She is trained from grade nine through Adults in the Our Whole Lives Curriculum and is excited to bring such a fun and helpful curriculum to Camp StarTrail.

Sherry Warren

Sherry has been a Religious Education Professional for seven years and has been employed by Prairie Star District for three. While working toward her Master in Social Welfare degree at University of Kansas, she had the opportunity to work at Haskell Indian Nation’s University with students and staff on issues including mentorship, interpersonal relationships, sexuality and sexual health, and community. Sherry also spent time working at the local rape crisis clinic and a state mental health facility. Her diverse experiences have allowed her to work in inner-city schools, universities, as a corporate trainer, and with various UU groups across North America. She is a certified OWL facilitator at all curriculum levels currently available.

Darrel Draper Afternoon workshop leader

Darrel Draper is a member of Second Unitarian Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He will lead a multigenerational workshop on Survival Skills on Monday afternoon and on Wednesday afternoon. Darrel portrays historical figures and will portray Nebraska pioneer fur trader Peter Sarpy for one of our evening campfires. His program on The Legacy of Peter Sarpy is the most popular program of the Nebraska Humanities Council. Darrel offered this program at the District Annual Conference in 2008, and it was a great hit with all who attended.

Rev. Fritz Hudson Afternoon workshop leader

Rev. Fritz Hudson is minister of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska. His ministerial career has spanned 32 years in five parish settlements. He’s been a summer camp participant in three UU Districts.


Rev. Ted Tollefson Morning and afternoon workshop leader

Ted Tollefson

Rev. Ted Tollefson has taught dreamwork and meditation in Minnesota since 1980. He wrote his master’s thesis on dreamwork and teaches a class on dreamwork at Metro State University. Since 1990 he has taught World Religions at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton. Ted is minister of the UU Society of River Falls, WI and a co-founder of a campus ministry at University of Minnesota. His spiritual practices include meditation, T’ai Chi, golf, and Bar-B-Q.

District Staff Members at Camp StarTrail

Phillip Lund

Nancy Heege

Nancy Heege District Executive Rev. Phillip Lund Lifespan Program Director

Camp StarTrail Planning Committee

Chris Bremer, Coordinator of Camp and Retreat Program Area for Prairie Star District, Minneapolis MN
Rev. Jim Eller, Kansas City MO
Barb Gutsch, Salina KS
Rev. Fritz Hudson, Lincoln NE
Brad Leu, Des Moines IA
Moira Leu, Des Moines IA
Bob Miller, Kansas City MO
Mark Seaburg, Minneapolis MN
Don Shennum, Omaha NE
Laura Shennum, Omaha NE
Rev. Mark Stringer, Des Moines IA
Susan Stringer, Des Moines, IA
Rev. Phillip Lund, Prairie Star District
Nancy Heege, Prairie Star District

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 01:13 PM

Campers will be able to choose from a number of activities from early morning through the evening.

** When you register, you will have an opportunity to list programs you’d like to lead, and the Program Team will contact you. All program leaders will need to register (and pay!) to help us meet our bottom line.

For information about the activities currently scheduled, see the Children’s, Youth, Young Adult, and Adult Programs pages.

Time Adults and Youth Children
?? – 7:30 Early morning activities ** [could include yoga, bird watching, hiking, labyrinth, etc.]
7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Breakfast
8:45 – 9:15 a.m. Morning Celebration
The whole community will gather for an intergenerational worship service led by our Theme Speaker for the week: Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons, First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kendyl’s theme is “Toward Wisdom: How to recognize and become a spiritual grown-up, with or without god”.
Nursery care will be provided for infants to two-year olds.[Each child who attends the Nursery needs to provide an adult for one day, to assist the children’s leaders.]
9:15 – 9:45 a.m. Theme Presentation
Youth, Young Adults and Adults: together for the presentation by the Theme Speaker, Rev. Dr. Kendyl Gibbons. Kendyl’s theme is “Toward Wisdom: How to recognize and become a spiritual grown-up, with or without god.”
Children’s Morning Program
[Each child who attends the Children’s Program needs to provide an adult for one day, to assist the children’s leaders.]
Nursery Care will continue
10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Morning Workshops
Youth, Young Adults and Adults can choose from a variety of workshops, some of which will last through the week, others of which might be just one morning. **
Children’s Morning Program and Nursery Care will continue
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:30 – 3:00 p.m. Afternoon Workshops and Activities Nursery Care and Children’s Afternoon Program
3:00 – 5:30 p.m. Free Time for outdoor activities that will appeal to all ages, such as swimming, boating on Crystal Lake, ropes courses, trip to Air and Space Museum, horseback riding at nearby state park, etc. **
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Trail Head for all ages: gathering outside the dining hall for sidewalk chalk, face painting, bubbles, and other fun things **
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Supper
7:15 – 7:45 p.m. Vespers led by Rev. Mark Stringer, First Unitarian Church of Des Moines
We will gather for storytelling and song, meditation, reflection, or prayer. This participatory, intergenerational worship service will be designed to connect us to our shared camp experiences of the day and to welcome our evening together.
7:45 – 9:45 p.m. Evening Program
Various activities such as campfire, contra dance, Wednesday night talent show, Thursday night dance, etc. **
9:00 p.m. – ?? Gathering Time for Adults
Sunset Talk; movie and discussion, coffee house and games **

Page last modified on December 02, 2009, at 12:51 PM