Camp Concordia: It’s About the Kids!5 min read

Imagine a safe, quality Lutheran children’s camp with a beautiful, child-friendly beachfront for young children, a ropes course for team building, old-fashioned bunkhouse-style cabins—clean and healthy—and meals in a large wooden dining hall, walls decorated with summer camp memorabilia; a camp that not only nurtures faith in kids but allows their non-Christian friends to know about Jesus Christ for the first time. This is not a dream. It is a reality. This is Camp Concordia, Mich. About 40 minutes north of Grand Rapids, on 65 acres and a chain of lakes, Camp Concordia began its ministry in 1957. Originally envisioned as a youth camp for all ages, it was built with 9 bunkhouse-style cabins, health office, “Pastor-of-the-Week” cottage, craft room, large lodge dining hall, and indoor meeting room, all situated on a clean safe beach front.

CC also had a pristine Family Campground setting for tents and RVs that was expanded, some years ago, to 38 wooded and lakefront sites with electric hook-ups.

The original vision of Camp Concordia (CC) was to run quality overnight camps for children and youth to “build up” their faith – body and soul. Over the years, that vision became blurred as more and more adults wanted to make use of Camp Concordia’s facilities for their personal family vacations and especially for the quality of fishing in Half-Mile Lake. They recognized the beauty of the land and lake. This resulted in confusion over whether Camp Concordia was a campground that ran a few weeks of children’s camps, or a children’s camp with a campground.

Due to their close proximity to each other and for the safety of summer campers, it could not be both.


This last fall, the CC Board of Directors, consisting of 16 men and women (including 10 lay people, 4 LCMS pastors, and 2 Directors of Christian Education), recommitted the mission of the camp to the original vision: To provide strong and safe overnight and day camps for elementary-age children and middle-school-age youth, and (when overnight camps are not in session) to provide quality programmed family camps, using the Camp Concordia family campground, at an affordable cost.

This Board of Directors and committed volunteers from across Michigan and northern Indiana have also dedicated themselves to a facility that is clean and safe – where parents can trust their children will be positively influenced in their Christian faith development.

Camp Concordia is building on its original vision of having a strong support for children and youth ministries.

What does “building on the original vision” mean?

Youth camps take precedence over groups using the family campground, and this provides several advantages:

  • The entire 65 acres will be used for children’s activities, providing expanded activity options.
  • The CC Staff will devote their time and energy to youth campers.
  • Camp Concordia’s summer camps for children and youth will be safe with the gate closed to unscheduled traffic.

Camp Concordia 3Family camps at Camp Concordia will run on different days than the children’s summer camp sessions. This provides many advantages as well:

  • CC will expand its family camp programming. For example: This summer’s Family Camp, July 1-5, welcomes Gary Faszholz (Art & PE teacher at Valley Lutheran High School) to provide adults with sessions on Art History and the Bible. Older youth will have their own programming options as well (deca-ball competitions with prizes, archery, etc.), and there will be separate Bible adventures for younger children.
  • The entire 65 acres will be used for family camp programming. This means that during scheduled family camps, families can camp in the campground or schedule to have their family “campout” in one of the youth camp bunkhouses.
  • The beach will be open to families during all daylight hours.
  • The Camp Store (Canteen), with snacks and souvenir clothing, will be available.

Supporting the Michigan District’s emphasis on Family Ministry

  • Congregations can take advantage of the scheduled CC Family Camp programs or schedule their own church group camps at Camp Concordia.
  • Families can create a supportive family culture when multiple households send children together to summer camp. The children’s common experience draws families closer to one another. This supports the church community as well as the parenting process.

Other advantages: College-age staff have the opportunity to solidify their faith through teaching children. In 2015, the summer staff will come from:

  • Concordia University, Ann ArborCamp Concordia 5
  • Concordia University, Nebraska
  • Concordia University, Texas
  • Concordia University, Wisconsin
  • Hillsdale College
  • Lawrence Tech
  • Michigan State University
  • Saginaw Valley State University These staff will leave with skills to engage their world with the truth of Jesus. And those from our Concordia University System who are training to be Lutheran School Teachers, Directors of Christian Education and pastors, will be better equipped to serve in those areas.

As one pastor said recently, “I felt so good telling someone the other day, ‘It’s all about the kids.’” Returning to CC’s original vision means “it’s all about the kids.” About being ready with dynamic ministry that supports the work of congregations across the Michigan District.

The Camp Concordia Family Campground and Base Camp Cabins are available for rent to church groups, other organizations, and family reunions. Camp Concordia currently is not licensed to provide meal service for rental groups so groups must provide their own meal service and clean-up. Camp Concordia is a seasonal camp that opens in May (with a family work weekend) and shuts off water each October. The office remains open year round for staff to do planning, promotion and development.

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About the Author

Dr. Craig S. Oldenburg has been involved full-time in Lutheran outdoors ministry since 1987. He has also served as a teacher, youth minister, and college professor. He has served as Camp Concordia’s Director since April 2014.

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