Stories of Faith in Action

Connecting Cultures at camp

When Matt Rusch, director of Outlaw Ranch, first proposed a family camp connecting cultures, he started from scratch.

The idea was to make family camp look like the church in South Dakota, which is both multilingual and racially diverse, he said.

"We just jumped into this,” he said. “[There was] no model. We [thought], ‘We know God is in the mix, so somehow it will work out.’”

We just jumped into this, We know God is in the mix, so somehow it will work out.”

Outlaw Ranch partnered with Pueblo de Dios,

a congregation in Sioux Falls invited Spanish-speaking families to join with English- speaking families for the camp’s weeklong Connecting Cultures program.

Outlaw Ranch is a member of Lutherans Outdoors in South Dakota, which receives funding from the ELCA South Dakota Synod made available because of Mission Support.

In addition to enjoying faith-based programming, families in Connecting Cultures could:

Hiking

Hike

Ride horses

Ride Horses

Mountain

Travel to Mt. Rushmore

Fireworks

Watch Fireworks

The idea was to make family camp look like the church in South Dakota, which is both multilingual and racially diverse”,

Rusch said.

Maria Cabello, pastor of Pueblo de Dios, said, “[Our] people feel very happy and very joyful with Outlaw Ranch ... and [they] feel very happy with God. Hispanic people don’t have a week vacation [often].”

“It [was] very exciting to renew our spirit and renew our souls at Outlaw Ranch.”

Connecting Cultures also helped some gain confidence. “Especially the kids,” Cabello said.

“[Some] speak only Spanish. They feel like a little fish in the ocean. But because others were speaking Spanish, they feel more included at camp.”

Instead of being embarrassed to try to use the Spanish they learned in high school years earlier, English-speaking adults utilized bilingual counselors to converse freely with Latino families. And Spanish-speaking adults who had never gone camping learned the ropes from English-speaking veterans who’d been camping for decades.

Camp is a wonderful equalizer, There’s not one of the groups who’s on unequal footing here, not anyone is not out of their element. ... We all study the same Bible; we worship the same God. We try to address those things instead of the differences at the beginning.”

—Matt Rusch