Bringing in 2011 The SMC Way

One of the best ways to bring in a New Year is to spend it at a place you love or celebrate it in a way you enjoy. Or go all out and do both.

This year my family and I brought in the New Year at Storm Mountain Center (SMC), which is located near Rockerville, South Dakota.


Every year for the past six years, my family has gotten together with my mom, two brothers and their families at Storm Mountain over a weekend in December to celebrate Christmas. The annual get-together was started so that we could all celebrate Christmas together but still be able to spend the holidays with in-laws. This year we went to SMC over New Year’s due to work schedules, wrestling tournaments, practices, and Christmas programs.

This Methodist church camp is tucked away in a mountainous area of the Black Hills and is a splendid little retreat hideout to escape to for any reason, season, or group. Staying here for a weekend has become a staunch tradition with our families but especially with all the kids. They talk about going there year-round.

Over our weekend stay, we’re able to celebrate Christmas together, have ping-pong challenges, play cards, board games, work on a project, visit, watch movies, sled, hike, or just hang out by the fireplace. This year it snowed most of our stay and was bitter cold so everyone was content to stay indoors.


We’ve always stayed at Allison Hall, but this year we decided to try out the newly build Sander Lodge.

This is what it looks like when you walk in the door.

 This is the main area. We kind of made ourselves at home while here.

The rooms we stayed in–one for each family

 Both the Sander Lodge and Gist Lodge

(the Gist Lodge is still under construction) are a short walk to Allison Hall where the game room and dining hall are located


Dining at Storm Mountain is one of the best aspects of staying here.

The food is wonderful

(we had prime rib our last night!) and the staff is pleasant and a joy to visit. The women  like not having to cook or clean up. While at SMC, we leave the cooking and cleaning up to them. All we have to do is wash the table and bring our dishes here:

This is by far the most popular spot SMC visitors frequent.

Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are available 24/7, thus the need for a lot of these.

You see a lot of this in the hands of children morning, afternoon and night. I dare any parent to try limiting their children to one cup of cocoa.

This is Scott.


He is the director at SMC and likely to be the first person you’ll meet once you decide to visit Storm Mountain. After you meet him, all other directors will be a letdown. He’s the gold standard of retreat/camp directors.

This is one of my favorite spots to visit on the 3rd floor of Allison Hall. The wall consists of crosses that visitors have contributed to the designated space. Guests are encouraged to bring one of theirs to be added to the wall.


The drive into Storm Mountain always makes me think of a downhill, unwinding labyrinth of peace and calm. Following the road to SMC, the stresses, worries, and unnecessary hurries all begin to fade away and tensions of daily life unravel. The surroundings and views of this hidden retreat replace one’s mind, body and spirit with a quiet calm, inner peace, and relaxation. It’s a hard place to leave; just ask my kids.

2 responses to “Bringing in 2011 The SMC Way”

  1. Scott Avatar

    awesome Amy. It is always fun to see you and your family!

  2. Becky Holten Avatar

    Thanks, Amy, for such wonderful photos and narrative of your time at STorm Mountain Center. Interestingly enough, Scott sent me your blog tonight via email. I had just finished reading your article in the Mitchell Daily Republic and the name clicked. So of course when I saw your blog address I had to go there immediately. I hate doing taxes myself and grew up on a farm in Iowa so knew you were a tried and true rancher/farmer with real life experience outside. I can relate to that even though I’ve been off the farm for over 3o years. I laughed at your analogies. Thanks for your article and for your great compliments of Storm Mountain Center.

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