SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 2007
Summer camps will feature Maier
A 2 p.m. celebration service to feature Dr. Paul Maier will celebrate Camp Concordia’s 50th anniversary. The camp in Gowen, features summer youth and family camps on land large enough to hold 38 sites. Dr. Maier, author and lecturer from Western Michigan University, and the Western Michigan Chorale will lead the service that will be followed by family activities, an auction and music by the Western Michigan Chorale and Gary and Ann Wakenhut. The service will be Sunday at the camp, 13400 Pinewood St., Gowen. For more information: www.campconcordia.com or 616-754-3785.
Michigan In Touch * April/May 2008
Camp Concordia NO LONGER A SECRET
By Paul Golke
“No longer a secret” may seem like a strange statement for a camp that has been around for 50 years, yet few seem to be aware of this gem of a camp that has quietly served its Savior and campers for over five decades.
In 1957, the Lutheran Layman’s League purchased 60 acres of lakefront property northeast of Grand Rapids in Gowen. On this land they founded a Christian camp with a mission to “build for Christ, body and soul.” For 50 years, Camp Concordia has been Christ centered and family focused.
Camp Concordia celebrated its 50th anniversary in a day-long celebration last July. Over 300 present and former campers, staff, board members, and supporters of Camp Concordia gathered for a special service and afternoon events. During the service, those who helped form Camp Concordia were honored including Doug Humphries, Karl Proch, Dick Groggel, and Walter Kayser. Highlights of the afternoon activities included dog cart rides, children’s activities, sports and a climbing wall. An auction was held with raised over $1,400! The festivities ended with a barbecue chicken dinner complete with ice cream prepared by several volunteers.
More important than just an enjoyable day celebrating 50 years of blessings was the remembrance of the countless lives touched by the good news of Jesus Christ through Camp Concordia. Over the years, many young people and families have come to the camp for retreats, summer camps, weekend getaways, and family vacations.
Camp Concordia is blessed with the college students who work for the summer. Last summer, Jenna Bohn came from Minnesota to serve as a camp counselor. Her experience helped her develop a new appreciation for Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians: “walk by faith, not by sight.”
Jenna says, “Without understanding exactly why, I packed up and took the trip from Minnesota to Michigan to work as a camp counselor and lifeguard at Camp Concordia. The first week I prayed diligently that I would understand why God had sent me there. It did not take long to discover what plans the Lord had for me as I bonded with the staff and campers. He used me to prepare others [for life’s trials and testings] and to become prepared [for them as well]. Working at camp was fun and challenging. I applied my teaching skills, made life-long
friendships, and shared my faith in Christ with the campers.
Camp prepared me to be ready for what turns my life would take. In only a few short days upon my return home, my father had a stroke. [My entire family] went into the situation blindly, just as I had back at camp. I remembered to walk by faith, not by sight, just as I had taught my campers when we learned the story of the blind man. That preparation helped me handle this tragedy with a stronger faith in my Lord.”
Camp Concordia’s present director, Paul Golke, who has worked in outdoor ministries for 25 years, has also witnessed the Lord at work at Camp Concordia. Last summer, a camper came who had a number of internal and social struggles. As the counselors and the rest of the staff got to know, work, and pray with and for him they saw a change take place. During that time, the campers made eggs filled with different symbols of the resurrection. By the end of the camp, this once shy and reserved camper was one of the boldest witnesses, telling everyone about the resurrection and explaining the symbols in his egg.
For Golke, another aspect he loves about Camp Concordia is its waterfront property. “Water has such symbolic meaning to Christians, and this camp just nails it. To me, the lake side chapel just overflows with the beauty of God’s creation with the backdrop of Half Mile Lake framing it perfectly.”
Volunteers and the support of Lutheran churches have always been key to the success of Camp Concordia and have helped keep camp fees affordable. Congregations interested in financially supporting Camp Concordia can become associate members of the camp. These members can then send a representative to serve on the camp’s board or simply place someone as a liaison between camp and congregation. An added benefit to associate members of the camp is its use for church-wide campouts and retreats at discounted rates. Financial support to the camp helps promote the success of summer camps and to help improve the facilities. But most importantly, congregations are encouraged to pray for the camp and its programs.
Camp Concordia has 38 campground sites and 11 cabins and features scheduled confirmation, youth, family, and junior counseling programs. Regular activities include Bible study, devotions, campfires, canoeing, boating, sports, hiking, and much more!
To find out more about the camp, its upcoming summer programs, and how to become an associate member visit www.campconcordia.net or call 616.754.3785 or send an email to email@example.com.
Paul Golke has served as director of Camp Concordia since May 2006. Prior to that he spent 20 years as the director of Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca in Iowa District East. He and his wife, Kristi, have three sons.
(3 letters written to camp)
Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
Dear Camp Concordia:
May God be praised on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Camp Concordia. This occasion is cause for thanksgiving for all the lives touched with Jesus’ love in a camp setting.
We pray for God’s blessings upon meeting the challenges for the present and the future in Camp Concordia’s ministry. May many lives be positively impacted through the committed service of all involved with Camp Concordia.
Sincerely in Christ,
Rev. Bill Hoesman
President, Michigan District, LCMS
The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
33100 Freedom Road
Farmington, Michigan 48336
Dear Camp Concordia:
The congregations of the English District of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, especially our congregations in the Grand Rapids area, wish to express our congratulations and best wishes in the Lord to Camp Concordia. May God bless you on the July 1st celebration of Camp Concordia’s 50th Anniversary. Our congregations were involved in the 1957 beginnings of the Camp and have been instrumental in Camp Concordia’s continued success.
May the Lord of the Church continue to bless you in serving God’s people in both faithful and fruitful ministry, praying for and ever working toward the extension of Christ’s Kingdom in seeking and finding the lost. To God be the glory.
In the love of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ,
The Rev. David Stechholz,
Bishop/President, English District, LCMS
Dear Friends of Camp Concordia
Greetings in Christ.
I am thrilled to be part of Camp Concordia at this exciting time of helping you celebrate this tremendous milestone.
It is truly appropriate to look back and reflect on the many years of blessings and memories of Camp Concordia and the thousands of people that have been touched by God’s love through the camp. Yet, we also want to use this occasion to set the stage for a Camp Concordia that has a bright and rich future.
The Camp Board and I are committed to providing opportunities for youth, adults and families to grow in their faith, nurture relationships and (of course) relax in the splendor of God’s creation.
One thing I hear over and over from parents sending their kids to summer camp and from families using the campground is that Camp Concordia has such a comforting and safe environment for kids to run around and be kids…and we know they are safe.
As we look forward, we strive to continue to provide a safe haven, not just for kids, but for families and the church. We want to be a resource for Churches to further their ministry goals. We want to continue to grow programs, improve facilities and reach out with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Your support and involvement will help ensure a strong camp for many years to come.
I also ask that you keep the Camp Board and staff in your prayers as they continue to move the camp forward in difficult times. The opportunities are many, yet we face challenges with a struggling economy and constraints on time, needs and funding. “For the harvest is plenty……” Matthew 9: 37
Peace & Power in Him,
FUND RAISING – In terms of the old Master Card Logo, our camp is priceless. It does require, however, adequate income to keep operating. Contributions from our supporters, small and large, are given from the heart and they are much appreciated. Normally, though, these gifts are not enough to operate the camp. From time to time, the Board conducts fund drives to cover expenses. In the eighties the Docs of Dixieland were engaged to perform and raise extra money. Later the Schubert Male Chorus held concerts at Luther Village for the benefit of the camp. Back then we appreciated receiving matching funds for these events from Lutheran Brotherhood and the Aid Association for Lutherans. Our golf outings began in 1999 and are still bringing in extra funds. In more recent times we have had volunteers serving at the Van Andel Arena downtown to earn money for the camp. Over the years, a number of generous families have remembered the camp in their wills and we have also been blessed with grants at times. Today we are very grateful for the help we received from Thrivent Financial and other special benefactors. Our camp serves God through our youth and by promoting Christian Fellowship among our people and our Congregations. With HIS blessing we will continue to grow and serve.
Paul Golke becomes Camp Director
President - Pastor Bob Weidmeier