The experience of God in the outdoors has long been an important aspect of Church of the Brethren ministries. Located throughout the United States, Brethren camps and other outdoor ministry facilities offer time for renewal and learning for children and adults in the nature and peace of God's creation.The mission of the Outdoor Ministries Association is "Connecting, enlivening and supporting the dynamic ministry of Church of the Brethren camps."
We see our purpose as:
Faith Formation - The numbers of hours of exposure to faith formation experiences in a week of camp exceeds the number of hours experienced in a year of Sunday school. The impact grows exponentially when you consider the exposure is without interruption of normal daily living issues. The partnership comes alive through local congregations providing mature Christian leadership as volunteers for the summer camping events. What better way to teach than to have leaders that live out the message that they are teaching. It is not so unusual that leaders who offer themselves also have their own faith strengthened through their experience at a week of camp. Faith formation also occurs at events for adults that congregations can hold at our camps. There is something that adds to the impact of an event if you can get away for a while from the daily interruptions of life to work on issues of faith.
Creation Awareness - As believers in Christ we carry responsibility for all of the creation that God pronounced as "good." What better place to get reacquainted with the world that God created for his pleasure than at camp. At camp we are exposed to the beauty of God's creation and begin to recognize our role in sustaining God's creation. Increased sensitivity to our "stewardship" of the earth and its resources, should lead us into a growing desire to care for the planet we call "home."
Leadership Development and Service Awarness - Camp is a place where children and youth are given the opportunities to take leadership responsibilities, often for the first time. In some camps there are formal programs on camp leadership training, but in all camps that are times when leadership is encouraged and mistakes are accepted as part of the risk-taking that is necessary for learning. Additionally, many of our camps offer service opportunities within our communities such as doing work projects or visiting the ederly at nursing homes.
A Place Set Apart - In Mark 6:31 Jesus invites the disciples to "come away" with him to seek rest. This is one of the ministries that our camps offer to members of the church. They are special places set apart where people experience the presence of God. In a world in which the pace continues to increase, our camps serve as a place of refreshment, regeneration, and renewal.
Ecumenical Involvement - One of the ministries that keep our camps as healthy ministries is the providing of hospitality to groups of many faiths. Being able to offer this ministry is often the very thing that makes it possible for us to have our camps available for our use in the summer. At a time when the numbers reported for membership in the church is cause for concern, the use of many of our facilities is continuing to increase as we serve others in the name of Christ.