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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Goin' to camp

Summer is here and the living is easy ... at church camp, for countless young people. The National Study of Youth and Religion says 40 percent of those between 13 and 17 have been to a religious camp at least once. Mormon teens are most likely to have attended camp (78 percent) followed by youth in conservative Protestant churches (53 percent), mainline Protestant (48) and Jewish (43).

The 145 ELCA camps and retreat centers serve 450,000 participants annually — 175,000 in the summer and 275,000 in the winter. So we're not just about kids and summer camp, says Mark Burkhardt, director for ELCA outdoor ministries. "We serve more people in non-summer months than we do in the summer, and we serve more adults than kids."

Servant or mission events and trips are among the most popular programs of ELCA camps. A grandparent-grandchild camp or retreat experience is a newer offering.

Servant training, Lutheran elderhostels and leadership training have all found a home in outdoor ministries, making what was traditionally known as "Bible camp" about more than campfires and counselors


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