If you visit one of the ELCA’s 145 outdoor ministry sites this summer, you might meet a counselor from North Carolina—or from South Africa. Since 1992, 552 counselors from 42 countries have served as summer counselors at ELCA camps.
When the program began, most visiting counselors were from Eastern Europe. This year most will come from Africa, Asia and South America.
“It all started as a dream of (pastor and writer) Herb Brokering,” said Mark Burkhardt, ELCA director for outdoor ministry. After World War II, Brokering formed a bond with Lutherans behind the Berlin Wall. Even before there was any certainty that the wall would come down, Brokering said to the Europeans: “When the wall comes down, we will bring your young people to work in our camps.”
The rest, as they say, is (wall) history. The first group came from Germany, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic and Slovakia) and Poland.
In 1995 the program was opened to other countries—Brazil and Columbia, China and Papua New Guinea, and African nations such as Tanzania and Namibia, South Africa and Malawi.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers