On July 5, 1919, the first documented Lutheran camp began its first session. Camp Wa-ba-ne-ki, Zelienople, Pa., 28 miles north of Pittsburgh, was operated by the Inner Mission Society of Pittsburgh, a Lutheran social ministry organization. The first visitors were urban campers seeking a "fresh air" experience in the outdoors away from the city. Cost of one week at camp was $5.
While the camp no longer exists, the property is now called Glade Run Lutheran Services and includes programs for children, including outdoor outreach, environmental education and therapeutic horticulture and animal programs.
• Sky Ranch in Colorado is the highest camp — 9,200 feet above sea level.
• Okoboji in Iowa and Wilbur Herrlich in New York are the oldest continuously operating camps in the ELCA, both established in 1922.
Through the years the age of Bible campers has gone from primarily high-school students to elementary age, such as these campers at Ewalu in Iowa.
• Bear Creek Camp in Pennsylvania, Klein Ranch in South Dakota, and Koinonia in New York sit on nearly 7,000 acres of land, approximately 20 percent of the entire property owned by ELCA outdoor ministry organizations.
• Agape Kure Beach Ministries in North Carolina is the only outdoor ministry that owns oceanfront property. Kure Beach is on the Atlantic Ocean.
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