Camp and Creation Stewardship: Perspectives from a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Leader

Posted on January 27, 2021 by ELCA Young Adults

About the Interviews

In October of last year, I had the opportunity to interview three of my friends and mentors, all current or former employees of Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp (FLBC). FLBC is a Lutheran Outdoor Ministry in Lakeside, MT. The interviews focused on how camp prepares young folks to be advocates for climate justice, and will be published in their entirety in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry February newsletter.

Kyle Lefler served on year round staff at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp from 2014-2020, most recently serving as the Associate Director. These are excerpts from my conversation with her.

Conversation with Kyle

Colter: How does time spent outdoors change young folks, short and long term?

Kyle: The ability to play and be outside of traditional rules and boundaries really help people reset and learn things. It’s easy to see this when kids engage in creative play. In the long term, kids are able to establish their own boundaries in nature. They set up their own societies, build forts out of things they find, and create their own imaginative worlds! It all builds confidence. I’ve seen how access to true beauty and sacred space opens peoples’ eyes to how the world could be. Folks are moved towards stewardship and conservation of the land, and also consider, in new ways, how we can all be more inclusive. Kids will look back on their experience at camp when they think about climate justice.

Colter: If you could imagine a future where Lutherans are active climate advocates, what would that look like?

Kyle: We’re good at talking about this, and good at doing small, one-time acts of service toward climate justice. There are awesome folks who want to push the church but they’re hesitant to take bold risks. We should be challenging our synods to be carbon neutral. We should be pushing Lutheran Outdoor Ministry to incorporate climate education into its national programming. Too often these efforts are met by the tired response of ‘we must be apolitical,’ but the world is changing and shifting in our hands, and we’re called to care for our neighbors and our earth.  Those are things the ELCA has explicitly stated we value as a church!

Our youth are not ambiguously “the future,” they are the present. We shouldn’t wait until our churches are burning in forest fires to care about the climate changes that cause those fires. God is calling us to something that is earth-changing right now. We have to be brave in admitting to it, and acting on it.

Next Steps

  1. Be sure to check out all Colter’s interviews in the Lutheran Outdoor Ministry February newsletter here: https://www.lomnetwork.org/about-us/newsletter/
  2. Become a Faithful Climate Action Fellow.

    The Faithful Climate Action Fellowship is for people aged 18 to 26 who are passionate about their faith and the climate. Fellows will engage in 9 months of joint study, leadership training, and action. The time commitment is 2-3 hours a month and fellows will receive a $500 stipend. Priority will be given to Muslim and BIPOC Christian young adults from the Midwest and Southeast. The application deadline is Feb 15.

    Apply here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSckLGrJXyRh-TwpgYh74wuL9BADa1ujDELeVK7MJDedZ3qchQ/viewform

  3. Check out our video series on faith and creation care from 2020, #NoPlasticsforLent

    This series includes ecotheology, conversation about ecojustice and community, and green household swaps!

    Videos available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egs4zLYaV2s&list=PL1kNLa7KLLn-D-JEajRXL5v8jqV5oYZHk

Reflection Questions

  1. What did you learn / what was surprising that you heard about camp and / or creation care in this interview?
  2. Kyle gives some bold recommendations about how Lutherans can be active climate advocates. Are your local faith communities implementing these or similar ideas? How might you become a bold climate advocate?
  3. How does your faith inform the way you think about creation care? How are you investing in being more deeply spiritually formed in your understanding of ecojustice?

 

 

Colter Murphy served as counselor and wilderness leader at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp during the summers of 2014-2017. Colter currently serves as Director of Youth and Service at Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, CA. He can be reached at colter.g.murphy@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kyle Lefler is passionate about working with young people in God’s Creation and striving to create intentional community spaces where they are unconditionally loved & accepted, empowered & advocated for. She loves early morning lake swims, handwritten letters & the Avett Brothers.