Kelli Smith has been deeply involved in her congregation, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Muncie, Indiana, all her life. Her experiences at camp – Lutheran Hills, Lutherwald, and Lake Luther, all part of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries, Indiana-Kentucky (LOMIK) – form a centerpiece of her faith journey. Kelli cannot remember a time before camp. “My first memories are of being at Lutheran Hills with my congregation for Family Camp on Memorial Day and Labor Day.” She later went to summer camp with friends who became lifelong.

While Kelli felt connected to her church and camp, she didn’t realize how much deeper her relationship with God could go until she served on summer staff. At LOMIK, the most reflective event each week is “Christwalk”- a walking drama in which the camp staff act out major events in Christ’s life. Kelli’s first time participating in the drama touched her deeply. “There’s something innately powerful about acting out the stories of Christ’s life with people you already love … it connects the story to your heart.” She also remembers time spent around the campfires each evening. “The peaceful moments atthe campfires were sacred moments. We experienced true fellowship with each other.”

Kelli’s experiences at camp had a profound impact on her life. Two of her closest friends are camp friends. They each lost a parent too young in life, and they leaned on each other the way camp taught them to do. Camp is a shared experience for her family. Her mother and aunts attended Lutherwald, Kelli’s husband attended a different church camp when he was young, and now their own children are enjoying camp.

Kelli is passionate about camp to this day. “Honestly,” she says, “camp and the connections we made at camp are what have kept me and my family in the church.” Your gifts of Mission Support to the Indiana-Kentucky Synod help support our three LOMIK Camps, making life-changing faith experiences possible for our youth throughout Indiana and Kentucky. Thank you for your generous support of the IK Synod and our camps!

By Pastor Jerry O’Neal