This year, Outdoor School had over 60 fifth and sixth grade students from our conference elementary schools and several homeschools.   

The weather was hot, but it was a blessing because we were able to add swimming to our activities this year. Several Sunnydale Adventist Academy students who are trained lifeguards took time away from their own schedules to help us have a fun and safe event. Iowa-Missouri Conference Ministerial Director Lee Rochholz even planned some Water Olympics games which students loved.  

Students were able to take three classes while they were at camp: Animal Tracking, Nature Crafts and Orienteering. Each activity was focused on helping students to have new encounters with their Creator in nature.

In Animal Tracking, led by Kathy Rowe, students learned how to look for signs of animal life and studied the different tracks animals make. Students especially enjoyed using special presses to make their own animal track cookies.

In Nature Crafts, students painted positive messages on Kindness Rocks and were able to place them all around Camp Heritage. They also painted nature scenes on wood slices and made nature mandalas with items found in nature.

Jeff Fender, pastor for the Sedalia and Warrensburg Church, and his wife Misty, led out in Orienteering where students learned to orient themselves with a compass and read a map. On Thursday, students separated into groups and used coordinates to find different landmarks around camp.

The theme for Outdoor School this year was “Seek and Find.” Attendees were blessed to hear messages from Rochholz as well as Dennison Sager, youth director, and several other pastors from area churches. Speakers challenged students to spend time every day seeking to know God more.  

Students also enjoyed evening games like capture the flag, 9 square and gaga ball. One evening students even got to make their own bag of homemade ice cream. 

When asked to complete a survey on areas to improve, Wiw, a student at Andrews Christian Academy in Cedar Rapids wrote, “I have nothing to say, this week was the best week I ever had.”

Wiw especially enjoyed having the opportunity to swim in the lake as it was his first-time swimming.   

Consistent giving to funds like Combined Youth Ministries help support events like these. We are grateful for the partnership with the ministerial and youth departments and Sunnydale Adventist Academy to help provide this amazing opportunity for our fifth and sixth grade students.