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Wow, what a year! Let's take a look at 2020

2020 has certainly been a wild ride, yet we still have been blessed in so many ways this year. Most importantly, we are grateful for YOU! Thank you for your continued and generous partnership in ministry. With your help, Caroline Furnace continues to serve our communities and provide an outdoor space of faith, education, and renewal for generations to come.

January to March We hosted 4 Family Night events across our three Synods to build community, greet friends of Caroline Furnace, and meet future campers and retreat guests. Family Nights included a pasta dinner, quick updates, games with the kids, and a mobile campfire with s'mores. Stay tuned! You're invited to our Zoom Family Nights, coming soon in early 2021. January 3 to 5 We held the Summer 2019 Staff Reunion at the Farmhouse. As a service project, recent staff helped continue the renovations to Marston Activity Center! January 21 Power the Future Series, Part 3: We wrapped up our Power the Future Series with community input via online survey. The series focused on three main areas of visioning - Mission & Ministry, Diversity/Inclusion/Accessibility, and Program Development. Parts one and two included an in-person, overnight summit at Caroline Furnace and a series of Zoom town hall discussions. All of the information collected will be used by our Board of Directors in developing the next 3-5 year Strategic Plan.


On February 7, we shared our new Welcome & Community Statement, developed with the help of input from our Power the Future series and now shared on the homepage of our website:

As stated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), “outdoor ministries strive to strengthen, support and lift up the body of Christ through building relationships with others and with God while enjoying creation.”

We aim to live out this ministry by following the greatest commandment that Christ taught us - to love our neighbors as ourselves. We understand this teaching as being inclusive of everyone, with no exceptions. We believe that God declared all plants, animals, life, and creation as “good” and has blessed us all. We celebrate, affirm, and value the diversity present in our communities: diversity of ethnicity, culture, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, faith, belief, ability, age, identity, and any other classification. Sincerely, we say, “all are welcome.” YOU are welcome here.

The above statement has been the expected culture here since camping and retreats began by Lutheran families in Fort Valley starting in 1949. We stand with our local ecumenical partners, community organizations, and the ELCA to reclaim our history, recognize our past (good and bad), and strive to always be a welcoming host.

We do not profile our guests and do not track ethnicity, faith, or belief of guests and program participants. Registration does track gender and age of summer campers to plan for lodging and activities and to comply with child protection laws.


March 7 On Paul Bunyan Weekend, we removed about 40 trees from the Cabin Village and road, filled the shed with split wood, and chipped a large pile of mulch. Participants included individual volunteers, a scout troop, and a men's retreat group.

March 15 Our last "Pre-Covid" group retreat was the King of Kings Men's Retreat group (Fairfax VA) who helped with Moyer Lodge renovation projects, to include the new large deck!

March to May Our staff shared a number of resources online. These included daily '20 Ways to Get Outdoors' activities, weekly 'From the Pines' video devotions, and weekly stops along the newly updated Nature Trail.

April 5 Julie completed her North Carolina Environmental Educator certification, a 200 hour course of study that she began while at Brevard College in NC.

April 6 The Moyer Lodge deck was completed! Renovations inside Moyer Lodge continued through the summer.

May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow was organized nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of 30 donors, we raised nearly $7,000 on May 5!

June 9 Our summer staff arrived! Outdoor ministry work continued, despite facing quite an unusual summer. We chose to invest in tomorrow by committing to hiring our summer staff, no matter what.

June 14 Online Camp at Home began with a Campfire Kickoff! We led Camp at Home for six weeks in 2020.

June 18 Governor Northam made the announcement to close overnight camps in Virginia for Summer 2020. Our year-round and summer staff quickly adapted to focus on Camp at Home, Family Retreats, and property improvements.

July 3 Caroline Furnace joined the Coalition of Virginia's Overnight Summer Camps, which now has more than 30 member organizations. The Coalition is urging state representatives to provide financial support to our industry and working closely with the Governor's Office and Virginia Department of Health in developing operating guidelines for overnight camps in Summer 2021.

July 28 We led a Virtual Faith Education Workshop to help others learn more about leading online programs and activities. Our summer staff shared ideas, feedback, and lessons learned from Camp at Home.

August 8 By the end of summer, we hosted 30 Family Retreats and led online Camp at Home for 130 campers!

August 12 Caroline Furnace hosted an online press conference for the Coalition of Virginia's Overnight Summer Camps as we sought additional CARES Act funding from the Virginia General Assembly.

August 15 We held a small, post-summer Work Day to continue renovations on Moyer Lodge and general improvements in the Cabin Village.

August to October Our Outdoor Worship Series was held once a month in the Spring Field by St. John's Chapel, and led by Rev. Heidi David-Young. More than 50 friends and neighbors gathered for worship.

September 19 The newly renovated Berry Health Center was completed and dedicated in honor of Virginia (Ginny) Berry's 90th birthday. Ginny was the nurse at Caroline Furnace beginning in 1960, the second year of summer camp on-site. The new Health Center has two private rooms for sick campers, a larger space for the welcome area, basic first aid, and camper medications, plus air-conditioning and heat (to keep sick campers more comfortable!). The Health Center is now ADA accessible.

September 22 to 24 We gathered online for the Pre-Advent Retreat. As 9 participants gathered, the verse they highlighted at the end of their time together speaks words that we all need to hear, "Do not be afraid!" The angel Gabriel says this to Mary in Luke 1:30 as he announces Jesus' birth to her. As pastors and lay people alike, they agreed that there is so much in our world right now that causes fear. The angel Gabriel cuts through all of the fear to give us strenght, courage, boldness, and hope when we remember that God has us all in God's loving embrace.

September 26 We joined in the celebration of another baptism by Big Spring with the Thomas and Lizzie Campus. Lizzie (mom) is a 10 year camper and served for 4 years on summer staff - 2 of those as Program Director. We're excited to have George back at camp soon (in just a few years!) for summer camp!

October 5 to 25 We held a Read-a-Thon as part of our ongoing, six month fundraising campaign. Participants found sponsors who pledged to donate a set amount per hour of reading. Several camper families participated. Stay tuned for another Read-a-Thon in February 2021!

October 24 During our Fall Work Day, 20 volunteers helped us finish clearing brush and saplings from the lake dam, a project that was begun by an AmeriCorps crew in late 2018.

November 1 We had 15 participants in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) Run4Camp 5K! LOM reported over $90,000 raised for camps across the country.

November 1 to 20 We set up our own Online Store this year, which meant lower prices for you, higher revenue for Caroline Furnace, and the ability to also sell from our physical inventory at camp. Stay tuned! We hope to have an online store open year-round soon, with all physical inventory from the camp store plus occasional pre-order options.

November 9 to 14 Our staff participated in the online LOM Conference. Workshops included lessons learned by camps in 2020, planning for a crisis, mental and spiritual health, staffing for 2021, communications, what's next?, and more.

November 12 Julie (Dir. Sales, Marketing & Communications) completed a 200 hour course of study and received her certification as a Conference Center Professional with the International Association of Conference Center Administrators (IACCA).

December 1 to 3 Caroline Furnace hosted the online Virginia Camp and Retreat Leaders' Gathering on Zoom. The two main workshops focused on COVID-19 and CAMP: Lessons Learned from Camps in Summer 2020, and Racial Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Camps.

December 1 to 12 During our 12 Days of Giving, we raised $19,294! This surpassed our goal of $1,000 per day and helps in reaching our six month campaign goal of $200,000. March to December Our staff participated in countless Zoom calls with organization partners as we collectively shifted to online gatherings. We've been "Zooming" with the Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) network, LOM East Territory, American Camp Association (ACA), IACCA, Retreat Center Collaboration (RCC), Coalition of Virginia's Overnight Summer Camps, Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce, and more!

Board of Directors We are thankful for Rev. Scott Zimmerer (St. Matthew's, Woodbridge) and Rev. Kate Costa (Good Shepherd, Gaithersburg) for their service on the Board of Directors. We welcome Annabelle Allard (Faith, Arlington) and Rev. Brett Davis (Georgetown Lutheran) as new members to the Board of Directors in 2020!

Thank you for your continued support of your outdoor ministry!

Blessings bring so much hope for 2021!

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