Certification Program for Outdoor Ministry Specialists

Certification Program for Outdoor Ministry Specialists

By Joel Winchip, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association

What does a camp and conference leader need to know? This is not an easy question to answer. Our camps and conference centers need staff with knowledge in a wide variety of subjects. It is important for these individuals to have a working knowledge of Christian education, finance, human resources, food service, fundraising, mission statements, facility maintenance, and so much more. Outdoor ministry professionals are true generalists that need to know a little bit about everything.

“Our staff is not very big. As executive director, I need to be able to wear multiple hats. In working with our Board of Directors, I need to be able to educate them on the many facets of camp and retreat ministry.” – Beth Ehlers of Lakeshore Center at Okoboji (Milford, IA)

It is a daunting task to produce a program that equips leaders for all aspects of this ministry. Started just four years ago, the Compass Points Certification Program and has already offered 13 classes that address these many facets. Compass Points is a cooperative effort of the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association, Outdoor Ministries Association of the United Church of Christ, and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries in partnership with Columbia Theological Seminary. Leaders can take just one class or complete the whole program of eight courses, which are offered on a two-year repeating schedule.

“The value of Compass Points has been immeasurable. While undergrad courses usually offer general content, this program puts the information into context. It also allows us all to bounce ideas off each other and the instructors.” – Chris Harmsen of Camp Wakonda (Sherrodsville, OH)

The picture above is the Development class that took place at Pyoca Camp, Conference, and Retreat Center (Brownstown, IN) on February 25-28. This course focused on fund development, board/committee development, facility development, and strategic planning. The 14 participants represented Presbyterian, Lutheran, and UCC camps and conference centers from across the United States and Canada.

“Development can be an overwhelming concept. This course has helped breakdown the concepts into bite-size pieces. While the tasks at hand are still daunting, I have the knowledge of where to look and who to talk with to take the first steps in a new direction to continue our mission.“ – Mollie Landers Hatt of Horton Center (Gorham, NH)

Compass Points will offer two courses in September – Articulating Our Mission, Role, and Value and Personnel and Leadership – at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, FL. If you know someone who might be interested in attending these classes or future program offerings, please send them to www.compasspointsprogram.org.

Joel Winchip is the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association, which serves the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbyterian Church in Canada. He also serves on the adjunct faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary. Before taking his position at PCCCA, Joel was on the staff of Presbyterian camps and conference centers across the southeast United States. He can be reached at joel@pccca.net.

For more information on the Compass Points Camp and Conference Certification offered through the Center for Lifelong Learning, visit here.

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