Pastor Bart J. Fouts has accepted the Call to serve as Camp Concordia’s next Executive Director beginning in March 2024. Current Executive Director, Dr. Craig Oldenburg, will then retire after 10 years of directing Camp Concordia, with his wife Mary.
Pastor BJ will be moving from a senior Pastor position in Nebraska with his wife and 4 children. He has relationships and history with LCMS camps and LCMS camp directors who are part of the National Lutheran Outdoors Ministry Association(NLOMA). Besides an extensive administrative and preaching role, Pastor BJ comes with experience as a coach, referee, HS teacher and … well … we will let him tell you the rest.
As Executive Director, Pastor BJ will be overseeing all of the Camp Concordia ministry beginning March 11. This includes oversight of our new year-round staff: Director of Programs, Ayla Kennedy, who has been working extensively with Craig “Doc” Oldenburg on Concordia’s unique programming and promotion style, and Sam Schmidt, Director of Operations, who is working to oversee registrar duties, bookkeeping, and overall physical plant safety and repair.
As a Recognized Service Organization (RSO) of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), Pastor BJ will be installed as a Called church worker within the Michigan District LCMS.
Camp Concordia has been around since 1957. Camping in the 1960s all the way through the 1980s was the summer thing to do. With the invention of the computer and its intersection with the internet, many camps have seen declines. Camp Concordia declined to the point that in 2004 one of the local banks called in the loan they carried and some tough times began. One man, who chooses to remain anonymous, wrote a check for $100,000 that year and saved the camp. Ten years later, after some initial rebuilding, there were enough changes that the children's and youth camps took off like wildfire. Growing from 125 campers to 541 - surpassing many of the record numbers from the 1960s and 70s.
This growth and improvement has taken place because of awesome summer ministry staff. Staff who choose to give up many other things for the summer in order that in the midst of their staff relationships, staff fun, great personal growth they have created a sanctuary with Jesus. A faith building time in which they themselves grow more than they could anticipate.
Great camp. Yes. But because of AWESOME staff. During the summer we often hear of groups of summer staff packing up on their weekend off and going to Lake Michigan together and then often that is followed by going to each other's churches together. At least one time per summer they all get treated to Charlie's Ice Cream - a great stand just north of Camp Concordia.
Since 2014, I (Craig "Doc" Oldenburg) have served alongside dozens of staff members. Each one much different than the other. Each valued by God. Each and awesome friend to the rest of the staff. Awesome camp. Awesome staff!
Each year there is always something new and amazing at Camp Concordia. Sometimes it is simple and fun and at the camp store (Canteen). In 2022, it is Tuck the Turtle (his full name is Tucker). Tucker will be on quality 3" die cut stickers campers can purchase for $1 to put on their Nalgene water bottle (or wherever you permit) and on 3.7" drink coasters (a $1 gift for mom or dad).* Tucker comes with his own Camp Concordia logo shirt.
We are NOT sticker experts. So we went to the people who ARE sticker experts (Sticker Mule) and they did an awesome job. Even Tucker is happy. Too much fun. Some day we will probably need to try out their laptop stickers (you can even purchase these in bulk for marking your family's belongings).
More camp store items to be talked about in the future.
I received a phone call recently asking it Camp Concordia was going to require staff to have vaccinations. A great question. My answer was: I don’t know yet. We are waiting to see what the state of Michigan requires.
In 2020 and 2021, the state of Michigan figured out a safe way for camps to operate without having the requirement of vaccines or masks. We operated in “cohorts” (which we always did anyway - our cabin, or discipleship groups), and basically had a blast at camp learning and growing in our faith in Jesus Christ. There was definitely anxiety here and there with campers, parents, summer ministry staff, camp director, etc. We wanted to do the right and healthy thing in an atmosphere of uncertainty.
Our information will be made available as soon as we hear more from our county health department and our camp overseers in the state of Michigan. Thank you for your patience.
Camp Concordia has been intending to operate exactly the same as we did in 2020. Since younger children cannot get the vaccination, the recommendation we have been given by the State of Michigan is to remain in "family cohorts" - which we call a cabin group. Over the last seven summer this is how Camp Concordia has operated anyway. So we are used to excelling as small groups.
This means check-in will remain similar to 2020 as well - meaning that parents and other family members will stay in their car and drop the camper off at the point closest to the cabins on our camp road. Unless the Michigan law changes, you will be greeted at the front gate, sent to the staff person who will ask the "COVID questions" and take the campers temperature, and then move on to "normal" drive through check-in, including: canteen /spending money deposit, normal health history form questions and medications/vitamin check in (if any). Campers are escorted by Camp Concordia staff to their cabins while parents (and other family members) drive off).
Do not be surprised if the Camp Concordia staff is still wearing masks. We will be taking precautions still since we will have campers coming from around Michigan.
Unless we all find out something different, please DO have your campers "isolate" prior to camp to avoid any transmission. But know, that when they get to cap their cabin group will be able to share the week together without masks.
Camp Concordia staff is currently training and getting ready for your children. We are asking them to "isolate" also. This will assure the healthiest situation for your camper this summer.
We are grateful to God for experiencing an enormously successful 2020 and value your prayers for 2021.
Greetings from Camp Concordia! We hope and pray you are well during this challenging time in our state and nation. Camp Concordia board members and staff are doing everything in our power to open and run camps beginning July 5th!
We were encouraged on June 1, when the Governor's Executive order 2020-110 opened up day camps for children as of June 8 (subject to guidance issued by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs). There is some indication of a push to get overnight camps running in July, and Camp Concordia has most of the summer ministry staff necessary for a July start-up. Due to personal financial needs, some of the staff who hoped to join us needed to obtain full summer-long jobs. Although staff training has been delayed, we need to begin training soon so we can be prepared for children's summer camps scheduled to start July 5th.
As of June 5, the Governor's Executive order 2020-115 stated residential camps remain closed for the time being; however, her goal is to get the state to Phase 5 before July 4. There are strong indicators from other members of the state that we should be ready to reopen safely in early July and the day camp publication could help guide resident camps. The publication does not explore specifics on requirements, so we will need to tackle them when they come; however, there still exists the possibility the Governor may say we cannot run summer camp.
What are SOME examples of the things Camp Concordia is doing to reopen safely?
What you need to do to send your camper safely.
And...what might your camper do this summer?
We will be connecting you to a new 2020 Essential Camp Information sheet soon to help you with packing, check-in and check-out details.
We are scratching our heads and wondering, just like you. We can all pretend to be scientists and/or prophets, but really it would be...just...pretend. God has this. And we are being as observant about what to do and how to move forward as we possibly can be. And so you might ask: What might summer camp 2020 look like?
The Camp Concordia Board of Directors met Saturday, April 25. There has been lot of discussion and prayer around summer camp. No one wants Camp Concordia to be the cause of something bad for any of our families. We know we are dependent on the information given to us by the state of Michigan. So this is our plan:
Summer camp would look different than it has the last few years. Team building in close groups would be eliminated for now and there would be more "separated" activities like canoeing. Not too much of a change. We are exploring the idea of tube bandanas for each camper to wear and use when the time is right. Meals would be outdoors as often as weather permits and would be in shifts so campers can spread out. Cabins would have 1/2 the campers (a 12 person cabin would have 1 staff and 5 campers).
All of this will strain Camp Concordia financially, but we believe we can make it happen and there is a good reason to make it happen. Making these changes for 2020 does mean we will not get that $60,000 new roof for the Lodge and will instead buy the $60 can of roofing repair to temporarily fix our leaks. We can live with that if you can.
If Camp Concordia cannot run this summer, families will be given options for their deposits and payments.
At this date, the state of Michigan has not made recommendations or mandates about summer camps in 2020. The CDC should be providing guidelines this week for running camps safely. Thankfully, our summer staff have agreed to work all or part of the summer with some exceptions. Praise the Lord!
Dear Camp Concordia Friends, Guests and Campers-
First, please be assured that the Camp Concordia Ministry Team and Board of Directors are paying close attention to the ever-changing situation in Michigan and around the world in regards to COVID-19. Know that, as we do our very best to respond as a ministry, we are PRAYING for you and your families and CAN'T WAIT to serve you this summer!
Friends, please remember: “… God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim 1:7
How is God going to handle this one? Plagues, famines and wars have not kept the truth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, from being shared to the ends of the earth. We WILL trust in Him.
Our lives have been affected in unanticipated and climatic ways by the spread of COVID‐19. The good news: God is still in control and our hope is not in the things of this world. So we think clearly and make healthy responses as we place the needs of the most at‐risk people in our community ahead of our own.
But what about this summer? As you wrestle with BIG unknowns, your summer plans may be on the bottom of the heap. But here is an encouraging word. As of March 23, 2020, Camp Concordia is planning to proceed with children’s and youth camps this summer. The current Executive Order for the state of Michigan lasts through April 14th. Of course, at this time there will be a need for reassessment and possibly a need for flexibility and adaptation.
Still, we are preparing and moving forward - with a few changes to amplify our usual safe environment. We are about 80 days away from our 2020 Summer Camp season and the health of your children and camp’s seasonal staff will remain on the top of our heap. We are monitoring the situation as closely as possible. So, along with our normal pre‐summer communications, we will update you about changes related to Camp Concordia.
In the meantime? Pray for those affected by COVID‐19. Consider how you can be a light to those in your community - like a campfire in the dark. Camp Concordia is a place that refreshes and renews so campers can go back to their community and share the love of Christ. This is our opportunity (our time to shine) as the body of Christ, to be supportive to our neighbors (while keeping our social distance).
Hug your kids today and remind them that "God's got this!" Look up at the night sky as a family and marvel together at God's handiwork! Watch a sunrise snuggled with your kids and thank God for another day. Find things to be thankful for as a family in the midst of the unknown! Take these moments to look for glimpses of God in the world He's created right in your backyard.
REGISTER FOR SUMMER CAMP - Register your child for SUMMER CAMP now! After a spring like this one, I encourage you to be even more intentional in pointing your kids to the Savior. Summer camp is a great way to do just that. So register today before spaces fill up. We’re trusting God that this year’s summer camp will be one of the best ever. We will continue to exceed health and safety standards for summer camp, so no worries. Get them signed up. You’ll be glad you did.
Occasional items of interest to support families and congregations.