By Bishop Mike Rinehart
For many people, camp is what church should be. Unpretentious, informal and close to the earth. Uncomplicated, outdoorsy and communal. Young, enthusiastic and hopeful. People from different places come together and create a bubble in which strangers are friends. Practicing generosity, each camp group raises money and collects supplies for a needy cause.
Swimming, arts and crafts, hiking, climbing, zip lining, waking a high wire, we challenge ourselves to confront our fears and trust one another.
We worship not weekly, but daily, several times a day in fact, under the trees, under the stars, around a campfire. A dog meanders through the crowd. We reconnect with God, nature, ourselves and one another. We study Scripture, memorize passages and wrestle with what it means for everyday life.
It should come as no surprise that an overwhelming number of pastors report having first been grabbed by the urge to pursue ministry as a vocation while at camp. It only takes a spark… and the call is ignited.
Camp is a powerhouse of faith formation. It is the place and time that people often “get” what faith is about for the first time. It sinks in.
Lutherhill Director Matt Kindsvatter shared with me that they had 2,208 total campers this summer. 58 Gulf Coast Synod congregations participated. Additionally, Lutherhill did 25 Day Camps with 1,128 campers, including Free Wheels Bike Camp in Houston, Lutheran Social Services, and Camp Noah in Rockport.
They collected $9,810 in summer camp offerings. Of this total, $4,905 was distributed to Acts of Wisdom, this summer’s designated ministry partner. Beyond the financial contribution, campers and staff also hand-sewed 1,024 drawstring backpacks and made bookmarks to deliver to school children in Ethiopia. The other $4,905 is designated for camp improvements including the sling shot range.
They engaged campers and guests in baking fresh communion bread with rosemary grown onsite for eucharistic worship, and made their inaugural batch of communion wine from Mustang Grapes grown onsite.
They held 530 Bible studies and 860 worship services. 15,765 folks were served out of the Lutherhill kitchen. 78 young adults served on summer staff.
Zion Retreat Center has hosted over 1,200 guests so far this year, also welcoming 12 disaster recovery groups from 10 different states.
This year the theme at our camp, Lutherhill, is “wonder”. There will be family camp, day camp, youngns, yearlings night owl, junior high, senior high, beach camp, high adventure and more. The sooner you register, the more you save. Early bird registration is now until December 15. If you’re bringing a church group, lock in your date now, before it fills up: http://Lutherhill.org.
If you are looking for some fun information on overall outdoor ministry and the impact of that you can go to https://sacredplaygrounds.com/effectivecamp/