This is the second in a series of posts highlighting hunger-related activities happening at ELCA Outdoor Ministry locations with the help of Education/Advocacy grants from ELCA World Hunger. Today’s post comes from Mar-Lu-Ridge in Jefferson, Maryland.


As I write this, we are receiving the first rains in 4 weeks. Our temperatures in Maryland have been as high as 100 degrees, but all is well and our campers have happily watered our new garden every day. The idea for our Garden of Hope sprang from our summer curriculum, Keeping the Earth, and from our desire to involve our campers in hands-on activities as they learn more about how food grows and eventually ends up on their plates. Playing in the dirt seemed like the perfect fit. Funding from the ELCA World Hunger’s Education/Advocacy grant allowed us to establish a garden in our day camp area. We installed a 7.5 foot high deer fence, so that any veggies grown could make it to the local soup kitchens, not into the bellies of our resident deer population. Despite the heat and lack of rain, we have some tomatoes, beans, cucumbers and squash coming on the vine. While our harvest will be small this first season, our campers have had the chance to plant, tend and learn about their food. We encourage them to take these lessons home, and help their families establish similar gardens. Painting boards to decorate the garden is another favorite activity – it’s looking good!

Twirling the compost tumbler has become a daily activity for our campers in the mountain-top section of our property. There is no good soil for a garden here, but these campers see the garden when they hike to Area 3 each week for a sleep-out. Lessons about composting are taught in Nature each week as well. The coolest thing that is happening in this area of camp is the daily opportunity to contribute a quarter to ELCA World Hunger when they visit the store each day. A running tally is kept, groups try to outdo each other, and when the weekly total is announced, they are all amazed at what they have done. So far this summer, we have raised $200 in quarters!

As we learn to care for our brothers and sisters in need, we remember one of our summer verses: “I have come that you might have life – life in all is abundance.” John 10:10b

Sarah Lefler
Director of Operations