Outdoor Ministry

Outdoor Ministry of the Penn Central Conference (PCC) has had a rich history for churches and its members for decades. Through a variety of opportunities, events, and programs, people have grown in faith, discovered what it means to be a Christian, and have uniquely felt love and acceptance in the outdoors setting. Being in the woods, fishing in a pond, hiking, sleeping under the sky, climbing a ropes course, catching fireflies, cooking over an open fire, sitting around in a lodge, or singing around a campfire are special heartwarming memories of connecting with others and with God. Without question, outdoor ministry is an integral part of many people’s faith formation and church experience.

PCC has been fortunate to have had Hartman Center – our camp, conference, and retreat center – as the safe and sacred place to go and be filled by the Holy Spirit, feel confident in beliefs, and also respected (and encouraged) to ask questions. After 56 years of faithful outdoor ministry at Hartman Center, in June 2020, the PCC Board of Directors made the decision to sell the property.

So now what? To continue our strong legacy of outdoor ministry and in the spirit of what Hartman Center embodied, the Conference has partnered with Lutheran Camping Corporation (LCC) and the Lower Susquehanna Synod of the Lutheran church (ELCA). LCC has three retreat & camp facilities: Camp Nawakwa (near Gettysburg), Camp Kirchenwald (near Mount Gretna), and The Wittel Farm (in Elizabethtown). All three sites offer summer camp, retreats, events, and volunteer opportunities for all ages throughout the year.

In addition to the information provided here on this Penn Central website, more details can be found on the Lutheran Camping Corporation website: www.lutherancamping.org.
Contact Anne Rankin, PCC Outdoor Ministry Liaison (annerankin524@gmail.com), if you are interested in being involved with outdoor ministry or if you have additional questions about Lutheran Camping Corporation.

For a general but comprehensive one-stop overview about Outdoor Ministry within Penn Central Conference, click here.

Upcoming Events


  • Full printable list of event here.
  • Events and programs at The Wittel Farm and Camps Kirchenwald and Nawakwa through the fall!


    The Growing Project

    Volunteer for The Growing Project through October at The Wittel Farm! This project reclaims a portion of the acreage for farming. The crops harvested are donated to assist those in need in Lancaster County. To volunteer as an individual, or a multi-generational group, youth group or family, contact Pastor Matt Lenahan at pastormattl@dejazzd.com


    Capture The Flag

    October 3; 3-5:30 p.m. @ Kirchenwald [Free]
    Review your camp map, paint your face, and practice your cone zone celebration dance! Invite your friends and family – of all ages! – to join you in this Capture the Flag event. Campfire worship to follow.
    Capture The Flag Spectacular


    Adult Study Retreat

    October 5-7 @ Nawakwa [$150/person]
    All meals (7) are included in the price and served at the Dining Hall. This mid-week retreat begins Tuesday morning and ends with lunch on Thursday. Lodging in Zinn-Tozer Lodge.
    Adult Study Retreat


    Fall Foliage Days

    October 24; 1-6 p.m. @ Kirchenwald and Nawakwa [Free]
    Come to camp for the afternoon to enjoy fall activities, worship, and a picnic supper. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet up with old friends or introduce new folks to camp. An evening meal is included.
    Fall Foliage Day at Kirchenwald
    Fall Foliage Day at Nawakwa

  • For this information in a flyer that can be distributed and shared easily, download here

  • Check out the Lutheran Camping Corporation website for more info and to register: Upcoming Events

Volunteer Opportunities

CAMP IS NOT JUST FOR CAMPERS…and it’s not just for young – or “younger” – people!

There are many in Penn Cental Conference who are volunteering and working at Nawakwa, Kirchenwald, and Wittel Farm this summer in a variety of ways! As we know, it takes a village to run a program and it is wonderful that there are folks from our churches who are part of these new-to-us villages of Lutheran Camping. Please consider offering your skills, abilities, and interests at camp during the summer months and for other programs throughout the year. This is a way to not only continue in the tradition of what many of us have done at Hartman Center but as a way to forge new relationships within this partnership.

Below are the opportunities and a brief description about the ways you could volunteer at camp…where do you fit!?!


Are you clergy, a chaplain, have lay ministerial standing, a seminarian, or an experienced ministry professional serving in some other capacity? Maybe you want to take a week this summer and serve in an outdoor setting as a camp chaplain. You would offer a spiritual life component of camp including things like leading devotions, bible studies, & vespers, offering prayer, or even just being present with, and available to, the campers as they go about their activities throughout the week.

Health Services

This is, essentially, the camp nurse. If you are a Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, Physician’s Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician, School Nurse, Physician, or work in the healthcare field in some other comparable role, this might be perfect for you! You can volunteer for one week or many.

Food Services

Do you like – or want – to work in a kitchen or with food? Do you have culinary experience? Do you want to help prepare, cook, serve, clean-up meals…or maybe just wash the dishes? You can volunteer to help out with Food Services for a full week of camp or even just a day or 2 or 3 during the week.

Maintenance Services

Calling all mowers, cleaners, handymen & handywomen! Help keep the facilities and grounds looking spiffy and functioning well! Volunteer in this role when you can and do what you are able…a few days, a week, or all summer.

Leadership Staff

Leadership Staff Volunteers are similar to what we knew as Directors at Hartman Center, but also are a bit different. Leadership Staff are volunteers who have an interest or skill in (or knowledge about) the area of a particular program (arts & crafts, fishing, backpacking, sports, nature, adventure, etc.) and who help the counselors by teaching, guiding, and chaperoning. For example, if you were on the Leadership Staff for the week of the kayaking program (“program” = “camp”), you would help instruct the campers on kayaking – things like how to paddle, boat safety, or the proper way to wear a life jacket – and then you would go with the campers and counselors when they would go out on the water. Unlike directing a particular camp or program, the Leadership Staff volunteers do not spend every hour of every day with the campers and are not responsible for planning or overseeing the parts of the day beyond their particular area of leadership.


Gardeners, Tenders, Harvesters, & Distributors Are Needed!

If you like to work in the garden, you are invited to help out at Wittel Farm now! You can get your hands in the dirt and/or you can stay clean and help distribute the produce as it becomes ripe. These volunteer times are pretty flexible – usually a couple or a few days a week…you can help when you are available! You can sign up to help in Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Saturdays here.

Lutheran Camping Corporation is grateful to all the volunteers who come out to help make programs run smoothly!

More information about volunteering can be found at https://www.lutherancamping.org/volunteer/

Consider Being A Cheerleader For Outdoor Ministry!

Do you like to be outdoors?

Do you appreciate fresh air, hiking in the woods, diving into water or watching it glisten in the sun, hearing birds chirp and seeing wildlife scurry around, or watching as the clouds roll in?

Do you value past outdoor ministry experiences?

When you are in nature, do you feel connected to the wonders of God’s creation in a unique and special way?

Do you still keep in touch with – or think about – a person or a group of people, who you met at an event, camp, or a retreat?

Do you just like to get away and escape the hubbub of everyday life?

What memories do you have of being filled with wonderful, uplifting, and life-giving moments while in the woods, on the water, at the mountain top, swinging from ropes, sleeping in a cabin, or singing around the fire pit?

If any of these prompts stir a desire to be in that place or to relive those moments again, I invite you to consider being a representative “cheerleader” from your church for the outdoor ministry partnership between Penn Central Conference & the Lutheran Camping Corporation. Really anyone can do it…even if you don’t want to go to camp or be in the woods! It’s easy…and don’t worry, you’re not really called a cheerleader; the Lutheran Camping Corporation calls someone in this role a “CampPerson.”

Want to know more about what it means to be a CampPerson?

It means you would:

  • Serve as a liaison between your home church, me, and the Lutheran Camping Corporation to help get information out about upcoming events, summer camp, and other opportunities at Nawakwa, Kirchenwald, and the Wittel Farm
  • Provide resources to your church that promote outdoor ministries at the Lutheran Camping Corporation sites

What would you be asked to do?

  • Attend one virtual informational session to learn about things like the facilities, where to find event information & resources, and to meet the contacts at Lutheran Camping Corportation.
  • Encourage (and recruit!) people from your church to attend and participate in events and summer camp
  • Distribute information about summer camp as well as year-round events
  • Help schedule a Camp Sunday at your church to help promote outdoor ministries. Lutheran Camping Corporation staff are more than happy to come to churches for worship services or Sunday School. They are willing to preach, do a children’s sermon, share a temple talk, speak during the Sunday School hour, or anything else! If your church prefers a recorded video to share with members, they can provide that as well.

What would your church and you get out of having a CampPerson?

  • DISCOUNTS — All kids who sign up for camp from a church with a CampPerson will get a discount at registration
  • CONNECTIONS — You will make connections with others through outdoor ministry support and involvement
  • RELATIONSHIPS — You will meet new people, make new friends, and build relationships with others who share an appreciation for time spent outdoors

You can also find more information on the Lutheran Camping Corporation website here and a flyer outlining the role of CampPerson here.