Middle school-aged youth participate in activities this week at 104th St. church
(July 26, 2013) St. Peter’s Lutheran Church welcomed middle school-aged children this week for the first session of the Mar-Lu-Ridge summer camp that concludes today, Friday. The second session begins Monday, July 29, and Rev. Gregg Knepp, senior pastor, said he is looking forward to it.
“We were looking for a way to reach out to the youth,” he said. “Right now, it’s an older congregation and we’re trying to increase the ministry opportunity to those youth.”
Eight children attended the opening day activities on Monday. They played games, sang songs, participated in a bible study and made crafts.
St. Peter’s also provides breakfast, lunch and a snack for the children. Breakfast consists of cereal and bananas, cheese and crackers are provided for snack and lunch changes every day. The children ate ham sandwiches, pudding and chips and drank punch on Monday.
This is the first year St Peter’s has presented the camp and Knepp said he hopes it will grow.
“We were a little cautious in advertising it because we were afraid of being overwhelmed,” he said. “There are still opportunities to enroll in the camp, however. Eight children have signed up but we can accommodate about 16.”
Emily Malinowski, 11, lives in Ocean Pines and is a member of St Peter’s. Her mother, Julie, said the environment of the camp is what drew her to enroll her daughter.
“I knew [Emily] wasn’t quite ready for a sleep away camp,” she said. “Here she can get that camp experience and not have to go away. To have a full day for a whole week, I’ve never heard of any church doing anything like that for free.”
Emily said on Monday she enjoyed her first day at the new camp.
“I really liked how the counselors played a lot of games,” she said. “We sang songs in the morning and they were interactive, which I liked. My favorite song was called ‘The Chicken and the Rooster.’”
Rev. Emily Leitzke, youth and family minister, helped Knepp organize the camp and said the activities and games change each day, but always relate back to the bible study from that day.
She said on Wednesdays the children go on a field trip. The campers were scheduled to visit the Landis Tree Farm, in Harbeson, Del. The children are scheduled to visit the Trap Pond State Park, in Laurel, Del., July 31.
Two college-age counselors from the Mar-Lu-Ridge Camp and Retreat Center lead the group activities. This is Harry Mikula’s fourth year as a counselor.
“My favorite thing about the camp is that the kids come in and can be not that willing to share and are shy,” he said. “But by the end of the week, they’re going crazy and just being kids. They’re not afraid to talk about their faith and ask questions when the kids they know may not all be interested yet.”
Mar-Lu-Ridge is a ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and is based in Jefferson, Md. The summer program Mobile Mar-Lu sends youth ministry counselors to community congregations to lead the week-long summer camp programs. Mikula said he has traveled to Westminster, Catonsville and Baltimore City to lead camps.
Knepp said the idea came from Community Lutheran Church, in Frankford, Del., who presented the camp in previous years to elementary-age children. Knepp said the two churches collaborated to expand the camp and received a grant from Lutheran Home and Hospital Foundation, Inc. that allowed them to offer free registration.
The pastor said he is looking forward to presenting the camp next year. When asked if she would return, Emily said, “Yes, I would say so.”
To register for the second session of the Mar-Lu-Ridge summer camp, which runs July 29 to Aug. 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., call St. Peter’s Luthern Church on 104th Street at 410-524-7474.