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

COMING UP AT NAWAKWA, KIRCHENWALD, & THE WITTEL FARM

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

  • THE GROWING PROJECT

    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

  • CAMPFIRE WORSHIP

    Campfire Worship

    October 24 @The Wittel Farm (7-9 p.m.)

    Missing summer nights roasting marshmallows over the fire? Craving a connection with others singing familiar camp songs and telling stories? Do you love being out in the crisp air under the autumn night sky? Or maybe there is something else that is drawing you to this evening event at the farm. Whatever it is…you are welcome to join around the campfire for a couple hours of activity, reflection, and connection with others.

    For more information & to register, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/event/campfire-worship-10-2021/

  • FALL FOLIAGE DAYS

    October 24 @ Nawakwa and Kirchenwald (1-6 p.m.)

    Come out for seasonal activities at either of the camps! This is a great opportunity to come to camp in the off-season and choose from a variety of favorite fall things to do throughout the afternoon (think pumpkin carving, hiking, hayrides, biking, apple butter boils…) and then participate in outdoor worship, and share in an evening meal.
    Registration is strongly encouraged – particularly for meal planning – but if you wake up on Sunday and decide to head over in the afternoon, you will not be turned away!

    For more information and to register for the event at Kirchenwald, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/event/fall-foliage-day-at-kirchenwald-2021/

    For more information and to register for the event at Nawakwa, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/event/fall-foliage-day-at-nawakwa-2021/

  • ANNUAL QUILT AUCTION

    Annual Quilt Auction

    ONLINE: Saturday, October 30 – Thursday, November 4
    IN-PERSON: Sunday, November 7 @ Nawakwa (2-6 p.m.)

    Join in this fun-filled day of bidding on beautiful handcrafted items and quilts. Money raised goes to the Lutheran Camping Corporation Endowment Fund, which helps to financially sustain all of the wonderful ministry activities at the camps throughout the year. The highest online bid will be the starting bid for the live auction.

    To bid online, go to: https://www.lutherancamping.org/upcoming-events/quilt-auction/online-auction/

    For more information, a preview of the quilts, & to register, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/upcoming-events/quilt-auction/

    If you would like to donate an item to be auctioned, please complete and return the form at the link below. All items donated need to be at Nawakwa by Sunday, October 24. https://www.lutherancamping.org/forms/2021QuiltDonorForm.pdf

  • ANTICIPATING WINTER: A SILENT RETREAT

    A Silent Retreat

    Saturday, November 6 @ The Wittel Farm

    This silent retreat is an invitation to take a long pause amidst the harvest, fallow fields of The Wittel Farm as we turn our focus inward to prepare ourselves for winter once again. The day and space will allow you space and quiet for rest and contemplation. There will be guided reflections, walking in the outdoor labyrinth, a campfire, a simle meal, and cultivation of your own contemplative practices. Reflection and Gathering the Graces will break the group silence. This event is sponsored by the Parish Resource Center.

    For more information and to register, to go:
    https://parishresourcecenter.org/events/silent-retreat-at-the-wittel-farm/

  • WOMEN’S CRAFT RETREAT

    Women's Craft Retreat

    Friday, November 12 – Sunday, November 14 @ Nawakwa

    All women are invited to spend a weekend away in the relaxed atmosphere of camp in the fall! Bring your own craft projects, or try something new. Worship will be led by Rev. Cindy Brommer. Please register by November 1.

    For more information, to register, and to download forms required after registration, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/event/womens-craft-retreat-2021/

  • ADVENT DAY APART

    Saturday, December 4 @The Wittel Farm (9 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

    Enter into the Advent spirit by participating in a day of Bible study, worship, and prayerful reflection.

    For more information & to register, go to:
    https://www.lutherancamping.org/event/advent-day-apart-2021/

  • 4th ANNUAL ADVENT/CHRISTMAS IN THE BARN

    Christmas in the Barn

    Sunday, December 19 @ The Wittel Farm (7-8:30 p.m.)

    Come gather around the outdoor fire and have cookies and cocoa in the barn. There will be inspiring lights and seasonal decorations!

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.