During the 2007 summer camp season the South Indiana Conference Outdoor Ministries served approximately 1,475 guests, that includes 710 summer campers and 765 retreat guests. This represents a small increase in participation compared to the 200

According to Ian Hall, director of the conference's Outdoor Ministries, the dramatic arts camp and adventure programming were probably the best attended programs this past summer. "Dramatic arts camp provides participants with both on and off stage experience which they can then take back to their local congregation. On Monday morning campers choose a one act play to perform. During the week they are equipped with the skills to realize all aspects of the dramatic performance. Dramatic arts camp culminates with a Friday night performance attend by friends and family of campers," explained Hall.

Unique camps

The most unique camp experiences this summer was the Adult Backpacking camp. This past fall Outdoor Ministries returned to Northern Virginia to hike the Appalachian Trail.

"Within a supportive Christian atmosphere, participants experienced the beautiful mountain vistas the trail has to offer. This seven-day, on-trail hiking experience cover more than 50 miles. Evening fireside worship included time for group discussion and personal reflection," said Hall. Outdoor Ministries provided backpacks, tents, cooking equipment and food.

Another unique camp was the Junior High Extreme Adventure. This summer, campers joined Outdoor Ministries to explore Kentucky's Red River Gorge.

"Campers experienced three days of backpacking. While on the trail, they had the opportunity to cook their own food, sleep in tents in primitive campsites and build new friendships with fellow campers," said Hall.

During the evening, campers enjoy Bible study, discussion, and fireside worship. On the fourth day, campers explored another side of the Red River Gorge where they climbed on natural rock formations. The camp culminated with a 12-mile introduction to kayaking.

Accepted for who they are

"As with each Outdoor Ministries program, campers are accepted for who they are and provided with a nurturing environment where they can truly experience Christ's unconditional love," said Hall.

The key to a quality summer camping staff is the volunteer directors who recruit volunteer counseling staff. Hall said, "Opportunities are always available for individuals who wish to get involved with Outdoor Ministries' summer camping program. We a team of four full-time workers."

Outdoor Ministries employs 45 seasonal employees including 10 summer camp counselors and 35 support staff.

"Outdoor Ministries also was blessed to have in excess of 200 volunteer participate in programs during the eight-week summer camping season," said Hall. Those interested in volunteering can contact the Outdoor Ministries office for more information at toll-free 800-919-8160 ext. 217 or by e-mail at Ian Hall.

What about 2008?

Outdoor Ministries is establishing 2008 summer camping schedules, with new adventure programming, mission opportunities and district camping options are in the works. For 2008 Hall said Outdoor Ministries is planning a series of weekend volunteer opportunities designed to provide congregations with an opportunity to retreat while giving something back to the community as a whole. Spring dates will be announced in January.

For the record, the SIC Outdoor Ministries has an operating budget of $618,000. The Conference Council on Ministries tithes $85,900 or 13.9 percent of its income to Outdoor Ministries, the additional $532,100 or 86.1 percent is funded through user fees.

Outdoor Ministries is committed to living within it funded budget. In 2008 CCOM will fund 25 percent of the Outdoor Ministries operating budget.

"Equipped with a generous grant of $131,000 for CCOM and the Conference Council on Finance and Administration, Outdoor Ministries is currently conducting part two of a facility recovery process. Phase two includes site-wide basic infrastructure improvements as well as combating delayed cosmetic maintenance to year round retreat facilities," according to Hall.

Congregations are encouraged to utilize the three camping and retreat centers within the South Indiana Conference. Camp Indi-Co-So, Camp Mone'to and Camp Rivervale provide ideal locations for local church retreats. Contact the Outdoor Ministries office for more information 800-919-8160.6 summer camping season.