Notes From Camp

By Emily Pilat, Director of Communications for the Virginia Synod

It’s almost the end of summer, and for a lot of families that means the conclusion of summer camps and activities, and the start of a brand new school year. In Virginia, the premier Lutheran summer camp to attend is Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, located in Fort Valley, Virginia, about an hour from Harrisonburg. This Friday, August 11th will mark the conclusion of the final week of camp.

For me, despite growing up Lutheran in Virginia, I never took the opportunity to attend summer camp at Caroline Furnace. Something about the great outdoors never seemed so great maybe. But, just last week I got a chance at redemption- to spend one day visiting Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center and I came away kicking myself. How had I never attended camp before now?! Just the brief time spent with counselors, campers, and the wonderful staff at Caroline Furnace made a lasting impression on me, it was an experience to take note of! So, I’m passing on exactly why I think this camp matters, and why I’ve got to go back for more than just a day. 


Note 1: Disconnect to Connect

I was told before heading up to Caroline Furnace to be aware that there wasn’t much in the way of cell service there, and that is no joke. At Caroline Furnace, there are few spaces where you can find cell phone service and electronic games, computers, and iPods are not part of the daily routine at camp. The lack of electronic connections puts connections back home on the back burner and boosts budding relationships with your fellow campers and camp staff into hyper drive.

Campers bond over games, silly and serious discussions, swimming, hiking, campfires, and s'mores. During my brief visit alone, I was pulled into a lengthy discussion on superheroes, an engaging bible study, endless card games, and supervised a few friendship bracelets being made. Getting to disconnect from a screen for some kids can be a tricky change of pace, but seeing how quickly you connect with others right in front of you, really instills how valuable being present can be with the lifelong relationships you’ll form at camp.


Note 2: Customize Your Camp

So while I must admit, the great outdoors and I are still not BFFs by any means, but camp at Caroline Furnace did show me one way to get better acquainted with nature: bringing your own interests into the woods. While younger campers grades 1-3 have the opportunity to experience a more traditional camp experience (complete with games, songs, swimming, campfires, and bible study), older grades 4-12 get to take on some bigger challenges!

With specialized camps like Adventure, Caving, Culinary, Horse, Performing Arts, Backpacking, Canoe, and Survivor Camps all on offer every camper is sure to find something they’ll love, and make friends while doing so.


Note 3: Camp Vocabulary

Gaga, sukkah, Pio, the Golden Broom- all the quirky vocabulary you hear from staff and campers at Caroline Furnace, and on the surface it might sound like nonsense, but the meanings will come quicker than you think. Learning the lingo here is all a part of the camp experience, and connects you to Caroline Furnace in ways you only realize when you come down from the camp ground. Talking to mom about how you made it all the way to the firewall while playing gaga might not make much sense to her, but that’s okay. It’s something you just had to be there for, and you get to bring so many of those ‘be there for it’ experience home.

On top of new vocabulary to learn, there are songs to sing! Breaking out in the middle of the meal, campers and counselors will lead on in silly songs, and songs of prayer and thanks for the meal they were served. Your evening prayer before dinner time will never be the same at home as your camper wants to pray to the tune of The Adams Family theme song.

Note 4: Leading with Love

Being part of the summer staff at Caroline Furnace is not joke. Every counselor I met, and every member of staff I got the chance to speak with carries with them love, patience, enthusiasm, and kindness for their campers. From making s'mores to entertaining with silly skits and songs, the counselors and chaplains lead with joy every day at camp, and the campers so clearly adore it. Camp nurses and the support team also lend a hand, caring for campers and the camp with great  Chef Aaron, the camp's culinary genius, is so beloved- as campers gleefully chant "Chef, chef, chef, chef!" when he makes a brief appearance during meal times.

The counselors and staff members at Caroline Furnace are so excited to see their campers learn and try new things, to ask big questions about God and life, and foster new friendships with fellow campers. Eventually, those campers become counselors or members of staff themselves- a testament to how love for Caroline Furnace runs deeps.


Note 5: Packing for Home

Since my visit fell on the concluding day of a week of camp, I got o see what the departure process is like for the camp. “I didn’t cry when I was packing up!” cheered an older girl, as she cleaned up the sukkah I sat in with her fellow campers, “I didn’t either!” called back several other girls, wearing it like a badge of honor. They didn’t want to show sadness about their leaving camp, but then again most if not all of these girls could come back for a few more years of camp as campers.

They’d packed up their bags and carried with them not just what they brought to camp, but what they had become over the course of the week. Traveling back home they’ll unpack stories on the trail, the friendships they made, the camp counselor's silly songs she’d sing on the ukulele. The purpose of Caroline Furnace grew out of the belief that children would benefit from a week of summer camp gathered around the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the verse the campers studied this week came from Isaiah 43:2- When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. Through these new experiences shared with friends at camp, God was with them- he always will be. His presence will continue to be known as they share their experiences back home.


While I might not have had a summer camp experience growing up, I know now that Caroline Furnace is still ready waiting for me to join in the fun- maybe next year you’ll spot me up there volunteering as a member of the support team for a full week, or taking on the role of make believe camper for just one day again.


Caroline Furnace is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this year! From now until August 31st, an anonymous donor is matching donations of $60 or more made in honor of the 60th Anniversary. To find out how you can support Caroline Furnace through a donation, visit

To find out more about camps offered at Caroline Furnace, visit

To see more of the fun that's been going on all summer at Caroline Furnace, visit their Facebook page at

Do You have an announcement, upcoming event or news story idea? Send it to Emily Pilat at and make sure to follow our
Virginia Synod Vocations Conference: Beyond Candidacy: What It’s Like to Be a New Pastor

This year’s Vocations Conference will feature presentations from three newer pastors, who will share what it’s been like for them to move beyond candidacy and into ordained ministry. Pr. Tim Crummitt serves a suburban congregation in Hampton, VA. Pr. Anna Havron serves a two-congregation parish near Woodstock, VA. And Pr. Drew Tucker serves a congregation and a campus in Radford, VA. They will tell us what their experiences of being a newer pastor have been like.

The Vocations Conference is sponsored by the VA Synod Candidacy Committee and is a great event for those in seminary AND for those considering seminary in order to prepare for ELCA rostered ministry. This year’s Vocations Conference will be held on August 18-20, at the Eagle Eyrie Conference Center near Lynchburg.

For more information, click here

Gathering of the Ministerium 2017

Gathering of the Ministerium is where our rostered leaders can gather to meet, reconnect, worship, relax, learn, sing, pray and play together.

We are a church of great history as well as a church called in hopefulness into a blessed future. Join us as we gather from across the synod to discover how we live out this reality together.

This year's Gathering of the Ministerium will be held on October 9-11, at 

Registration deadline for Gathering of the Ministerium is August 31st 2017

Our presenter for this year is Dr. Michael DeJonge an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at the University of South Florida (Tampa). Dr. DeJonge will present Bonhoeffer’s interaction with Luther and the tradition, especially in his reflections about ethical and political issues, such as peace and state of authority.

For more information and to register, click here

Fall 2017 ACTS Course: The Christian's Call Today

For Bonhoeffer, Christ is the definition of reality. Discipleship, then, is a call to become enveloped by that reality; therefore, the Christian's call is not to turn one's back on the world (enter the cloister) but to be God's presence in the world. In other words, our life in the world, which is lived out in the midst of families, friendships, work, and communities, is meant to display the presence and transformative work of God in the world. Because Bonhoeffer's faith led him to take the world seriously in all of its manifestations, Christian vocation is one that willingly stands up for one's neighbor and gets its hands dirty. Join other ACTS participants as together we explore and learn more about our Christian’s Call through this course.

This year's Fall ACTS course will be held on October 7th and November 4th

For more information and to register for the Fall ACTS course, click here

Read and respond: ELCA social message on human rights 
The draft of a social message on human rights is now available for viewing and response on the ELCA website, . Reviewing the draft gives you a chance to weigh in on the development of this important document. After reading the message, there are two ways to respond: Fill out the online response form found on the same webpage, or email comments to . Both will be shared with the staff and consulting group that are preparing this message. The comment period closes  Aug. 31 .
CROSS+GEN LIFE Tour at Bethel Winchester
There is something very new, yet very old stirring in the church. Maybe this year the next new thing - and the next Reformation - will start with you intentionally combining the wisdom of the elder and the wonder of the child in the same sacred space every week, and in each other’s prayers every night in every home. On August 19th at Bethel Lutheran Church, invest a day with Rev. Dr. Rich Melheim and friends to:

+ Explore case studies of faith formation pioneers who have implemented various Cross+Gen ministries in their own churches, and are transforming the fabric of their congregations to include the gifts of all ages in worship and faith formation.

+ Learn about a world of fun and effective Cross+Gen resources that draw children, teens, young adul ts, parents and elders into the same “eduworship” space, fostering cross+generational faith formation, fellowship, relationships and care.

+ Experience a sneak peak of the new Luther Rock Opera, a great cross+generational way to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

+ Leave with a plan to immerse and include a wider community than ever before in your lifelong learning, worship and faith formation practices.

For pricing, registration, the daily schedule, a printable brochure and more, visit:

Kairos 2.0 Gathering at Muhlenberg Lutheran, Harrisonburg!

Encourage all your rising 9th through 12th grade youth to sign up for Kairos 2.0 reunion gathering at Muhlenberg Lutheran in Harrisonburg August 18th 6:30 pm - August 20th 1 pm. Youth who did not attend Kairos are also welcome!

This is a lock-in style retreat. Youth will stay in the MAC building at Muhlenberg. Sleeping pads or inflatable mattresses are recommended, sleeping bags are required. Food is provided and will be prepared by youth participants. Free will offering of $10-$15 to cover food costs is appreciated. Adults are welcome! (As per Muhlenberg’s safe church policy, adults will need to be background checked through the VA Synod or approved through MLC – Contact Clay Arthur if you have questions.)

For more information and to download a poster for the event, click here

Questions? Need more information? Contact Clay Arthur at

Sign up here:
Confessing and Expressing Our Faith in Worship
A closer look at the use of the Creeds, Hymn of the Day, Thanksgiving at Table in the  Sunday  Liturgy
Presenter: Dr. Gordon W. LathropProfessor of Liturgy Emeritus - Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia

Date: September 13 10:00 AM- 3:00 PM
Cost:   $25.00 
Breakfast items and lunch included.

Location:  St. Mary's Pine Lutheran Church 
7103 S. Middle Rd., Mt. Jackson, VA

To register, please call or e-mail:
Emanuel Lutheran Church -Woodstock. VA
540-459-3837 or

For more information on the seminar and to download a flyer, click here
National Lutheran Communities & Services Community Impact Grants 2018
Each year, National Lutheran Communities & Services (NLCS) awards grants to organizations that share in the same passion of serving seniors. Grant proposals for the 2018 period will be accepted starting on June 1, 2017 and must be submitted on or before August 15, 2017.

NLCS strongly believes that its mission extends beyond the physical boundaries of its residential communities and service offerings. With funds solely from investment earnings, we are committed to supporting the work of other non-profit organizations, including congregations and community-based programs that address the critical needs of seniors who are aging-in-place. For more information please visit:

Clinical Pastoral Education program with National Lutheran Communities & Services

Reflect, Engage and Grow: Preparing pastors by developing new skills in pastoral care. 

National Lutheran Communities & Services, as a satellite of The Eastern Mennonite Seminary Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program, develops pastors and chaplains who are reflective practitioners, able to draw upon the best in their theological traditions and the behavioral sciences for ministry that is increasingly faithful and fruitful.

The Village at Orchard Ridge is now accepting applications for the fall session of the CPE Program.

If you are interested in testing a call to be a chaplain in health care, a retirement community, or other care facility, or simply wish to develop new skills as a pastor, consider applying to the program. To apply, download and complete the application below and return to Chaplain William Boldin via email.

Download the Clinical Pastoral Education Application & Instructions

Learn more by viewing the 2017 Clinical Pastoral Education Digital Brochure

Job Opportunities
Director of Youth and Family Ministry at St. Mark Lutheran Church (ELCA) of Charlottesville VA

The Director of Youth and Family Ministry works with the Pastor(s), staff, lay leaders and others to support the spiritual health of the congregation and specifically the youth, primarily middle and high school age. Provides a connection between the St. Mark family and the growing number of youth.  The lead Pastor is the immediate supervisor of the Director of Youth and Family Ministry.

Core Duties:

Activities: The following outline of activities are guidelines that may have some ebb and flow based on Church and school calendars.

  1. Weekly
    1. Coordinate and establish a weekly activity for youth
    2. Teach or help prepare youth Sunday School program
    3. Attend worship
    4. Foster relationship with Preschool families
  2. Other Activity Expectations include . . .
    1. Coordinate and attend at least two weekend retreats with youth every year
    2. Plan and coordinate – bi-monthly social youth/family events
    3. One week a year, help coordinate and attend a mission trip with youth/families
    4. Coordinate and attend at least two synod retreats with youth every year
    5. Be available to youth/families. This includes establishing/publishing office times or availability for meetings/visits
    6. Work with the Pastor to get the youth involved in church leadership activities such as acolyte, readers, assisting minister, etc. and leading & planning youth worship services
    7. Attend Pastor led Church staff meetings
    8. Attend Mission Council meetings as required by Council
    9. Participate in Church Funded Continuing Educations as appropriate

For more information and to review the full job listing,  click here
Executive Director, Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp
and Retreat Center

Caroline Furnace Lutheran Camp and Retreat Center, an outdoor ministry serving the Virginia, Metro DC, and West Virginia/Western Maryland Synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American (ELCA), is currently seeking an Executive Director. The board of directors will be accepting applications through August 15, 2017.

Caroline Furnace is located on 257 acres in the Fort Valley area of Shenandoah County, VA. In addition to the main camp and retreat facility in Fort Valley, Caroline Furnace operates an adult-only retreat center in Strasburg, VA.

The camp operates year-round, with a summer camp program from June through August and retreat rentals by congregations, councils, schools, recreational/sports clubs, girl and boy scouts, and many other groups throughout the year.

It is the mission of Caroline Furnace “to provide unforgettable faith, education, and renewal experiences in God's creation for all God’s people.” A successful Executive Director will have a commitment to service and bring a strong understanding of Lutheran theology in the development of camp programming and retreat curricula.

The ideal candidate will successfully operate the existing camp programs, while
developing additional offerings that reach out to God’s people. The ability to network with Caroline Furnace’s local community and congregations within the three synods is important.

Salary and total compensation are commensurate with the Virginia Synod guidelines. A residence is provided for the use of the Executive Director.

Interested candidates should submit a resume or Rostered Leader Profile to

For more information and to review the full job listing, click here
Home Health Clinical Services Director

myPotential at Home—A National Lutheran Service has an exciting opening for a talented Registered Nurse with a home healthcare background to join our new home health operation, overseeing our growing footprint up the Shenandoah Valley into Staunton, Va. The Home Health Clinical Services Director will serve a key role in shaping the program and managing the care delivery and service experience of all clients in the comfort of their home. If you are looking for a fulfilling and stimulating leadership role that offers career growth, a flexible schedule, and excellent pay with generous benefits, apply today!

• $100K starting salary

• $5,000 sign-on bonus with additional bonus opportunities in year one

• Flexible day-shift position, weekends not required

• Continued learning encouraged with tuition reimbursement

• Willing to offer relocation assistance 

For more information and to review the full job listing, click here

All job postings can also be found online at If you have a position opening you would like posted, please email Emily Pilat at