Creating relationships with God and nature
Participants at Pinecrest Lutheran Ministries
in upstate New York.
A warm summer night, crickets chirping, the smell of a campfire and bright, shining stars in the sky above is the vision of a Lutheran camp. Children, teens and adults enjoy attending Lutheran camps every summer and why wouldn’t they? “Outdoor ministries can provide you with a life-changing experience,” according to the ELCA’s Outdoor Ministry website.
Outdoor ministry camps are a great opportunity for those who want to learn more about Christ, grow in their faith, learn about the environment and, most of all, create new relationships with God and others in the ELCA.
There are approximately 147 outdoor ministry sites in the United States and Puerto Rico that are affiliated with the ELCA. There are different types of camps that people of all ages can attend throughout the summer. For instance, there are youth camps, family camps, adult camps, adventure camps, day camps, leadership camps and servant-learning camps.
Because there are so many types of outdoor ministries, it is important to choose the best one for you or your group. There are two types of outdoor ministries that are perfect for the youth and young adults in your congregation. There are servant-learning programs that focus on social issues in the world and how to approach them. There are also high-adventure programs, which include outdoor camping, canoeing, hiking and more.
These camps are throughout the United States. To find a program near you, visit ELCA Outdoor Ministry. Along with the youth programs, there are day camps and retreat centers available for adults and youth throughout the whole year. Although most of the programs are available in the summer, there are some centers that offer year-round retreats and camps. These retreat centers can be used by any group in your congregation at any time of the year. If your congregation would like to have a winter retreat complete with outdoor activities, look into renting one of the retreat centers.
There are also special camps for those interested in leadership, such as Pinecrest Lutheran Leadership School. This is a one-week program in August in New Jersey near New York City. During the week, participants are challenged to learn about their faith, others and how to be Christian leaders. Those attending the camp also attend classes on various topics throughout the week. Through these classes they learn the mission of the ELCA and how as leaders they can live their lives as examples of that mission.
Sojourners camp is also a special ministry of Christikon camp, affiliated with the ELCA. This week-long camp is offered to at-risk youth from the ages of 11 to 13 and provides them with opportunities not found in their everyday lives. The participants in Sojourners camp are combined with the regular members of the camp, offering them an opportunity to create relationships with people they would not normally meet. This camp is another one that brings participants closer to God and to others through outdoor ministry.
Being part of an outdoor ministry can be a great experience for all members of your congregation. Take the opportunity to form relationships with new people, grow closer to God and share your faith with others at an ELCA outdoor ministry.
You might also want to read:
Called as we are
An unconventional ministry
Give us this day our daily bread