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

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.