First Third Conversations

The Power of Immersion Learning

See this video of Mike King discussing the power of immersion learning at our First Third Dialogue: Why Can't My Church Be More Like Camp? (This post was originally published on 12/19/2012)

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Setting the Table: Our Calling to Outdoor Ministry

TableA blog post by Alyssa Fitzgerald

Image Credit: Table_HDR2 by Mark Thornhill on Flickr

As the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3). In this holiday season, I have been blessed with the opportunity to reminisce, remembering those I met at this year’s joint Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association (PCCCA) and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) Annual Conference as I give thanks to God for the work they do every

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Summer is Coming!

Summer flowerA blog post by Jake Sorenson

Image Credit: Summer Sun Shining Through by Will Montague on Flickr

As a new year dawns, the weather is frigid in the upper Midwest. Schools are cancelled in several states due to extreme cold, and the warnings say things like, “Skin will freeze within 5-10 minutes.” Seriously, my skin is going to freeze?!

The trip to the mailbox reminds me of a Jack London story. Bundling up with five layers complete with ski goggles, I make the 75-foot trek through

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Ministry Starts by "being with"

Summer StaffA blog post by Luke Halverson

What is one thing I have noticed about young adults?

Early on in the book of Job, Satan is granted power over Job’s life. From Job losing his children to having sores inflicted all over his body, Job endured enormous amounts of pain and loss. When Job’s friends heard of his pain, they sought to comfort him, but when they saw Job, they just sat with him for seven days and seven nights without speaking a word to him. They didn’t offer a ten step -- or

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Christian Camping in Light of Emerging Adult Research

cross sunset-A blog post by Jake Sorenson

Christian outdoor ministry is an incredibly understudied field. As scholarly attention increases in the fields of youth ministry and emerging adult ministry, camp is conspicuously absent from nearly every study. Evidence for camp’s effectiveness is left largely to anecdotal accounts that seem convincing to those of us who have had wonderful camp experiences but leave others in doubt. Camp is often viewed as mere fun and games, an experience that at best is theologically

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Emerging Adult Faith Formation and the Camp Experience

CabinA blog post by Jake Sorenson

In diverse studies on emerging adult religiosity, three essential factors consistently rise to the top as important for lasting faith formation: relationships, internalization of faith, and incorporation of faith into daily living. These factors align remarkably with the “essential trinity” of camping: community living, away from home, and in an outdoor, recreational environment. This alignment demonstrates why Christian summer camps are vibrant expressions

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Let's Just Be Friends

RespectA blog post by Jesse Weiss

A good friend of mine is about to start his first teaching job in a couple of weeks -- high school English. As we were talking about what excited him and what made him nervous, he pointed to one area in which he was very unsure of himself: where is the line between friend and authority figure?

No doubt that most people in ministry with youth and young adults face the same question. Especially when our ministry is predicated on building relationships, we have the desire

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Bringing Justice into the Light

Justice into lightA blog post by Jesse Weiss 

Recently, a group of young adults that are serving as camp staff this summer got into a fairly deep conversation about salvation and the question of God’s justice. Their conversation was good, but it was grounded more in cliché answers than in theological understandings. As we further explored the issue of a just God, not only for their own understandings but also for their roles in the lives of our campers, we tried to gain a better understanding of

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Bring it on home

HomeA blog post by Jesse Weiss

Each spring, I conduct about sixty interviews with young adults interested in serving on summer camp staff. Throughout the years, I have encountered many responses to interview questions that have brought me joy, as well as a fair amount of responses that have made me cringe.

For instance, when asking, “What does God’s grace mean to you,” I’ve gotten everything from “it means that I’ve been given a gift of undeserved love through Jesus

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From the First Third Archives

You Belong

By Andy Sahl

I served for several years with a leadership camp in Western Illinois.  High school kids labeled as “student leaders” (read, well connected to their youth group) from all over the country would come together for a week of small groups, worship, workshops, and free time fun on a college campus.  What was amazing about this camp is that they had a culture and structure of assigning kids to random roommates and assigning the small groups so that they

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