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100 Years of Lutheran Camping!


“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things in all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  (2 Corinthians 9:8 – NRSV)


The experiences offered by Lutheran outdoor ministry organizations represent a century of blessings to the Lutheran Church.  Their stories are filled with God’s abundant grace; their work has nurtured the faith of generations of Church leaders.  Most of these organizations began with humble resources yet the heart-felt commitment of early pioneers was remarkable.  In beautiful outdoor settings, tens of thousands of participants have felt their faith renewed and sensed a stronger connection to God.  These outdoor ministry experiences have invited people of all ages into Christian witness and service.


The 100th Anniversary of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries is a celebration of our partnership; we are committed to an innovative and creative future that practices servanthood, discipleship and Christian stewardship fully aware that it is God’s abounding grace that has provided our guiding foundation. The aim of the 100th Anniversary year is to provide education for church leaders, participants and the church at large on the history of the many Lutheran outdoor ministries that have impacted congregational life and mission and to strengthen our resolve for outdoor ministry to remain relevant and impactful during the next 100 years.  


The first recorded organized camping program of the Lutheran Church originated in Pennsylvania with the Lutheran Inner Mission Society of Pittsburgh.  This social service agency provided services for the spiritual and physical care of those who were lonely, living in poverty, sick or otherwise in need.  Among their programs was a commitment to serving disadvantaged youth. The idea for establishing a summer youth camp was proposed as early as 1915 but did not come to fruition until 1919.  It was in this year that arrangements were made to use a piece of property offered by a layperson, Mr. Sidney Passavant, for swimming, boating and fishing and hiking.  This first camp, located 28 miles north of Pittsburgh, was easily accessible by public streetcar.  The camp began on July 5, 1919.  The camp was called Camp Wa-ba-ne-ki.  (Source:  Burkhardt, Mark, A History of Lutheran Church Camping in the United States, 1919-1949., The Pennsylvania State University, 1982, pp. 21-24)


Outdoor ministry continues to be a valuable and necessary part of the Church, and we are grateful for your continued support.



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