By Bobby Burtt, Chair, Division of Outdoor Ministries
For those of you who don’t know me yet, my name is Robert (Bobby) Burtt III, and as you may have heard, I am the new Chair of the Division of Outdoor Ministries.
Before I tell you about my goals and dreams for the Division and Outdoor Ministries programs, I would like to start with some information about me. I was born and raised just outside of Massillon, Ohio, where I attended Christ United Church of Christ at Myers. My first interaction with Outdoor Ministries was in 1995, at age four, when I attended Grandparents Camp with my grandma and older sister. Needless to say, that week I fell madly in love with our UCC camping program, and every year since I have been part of our camping programs in many capacities while attending a wide array of camps.
You may be wondering, what can this guy do for us? What does he really have to offer us that we haven’t already had or seen before? If you had asked me last month when I first accepted my call to this new venture, I would have told you my dreams, but today I realize often our dreams are misguided. A month ago, I would have told you all the things I wanted to get done: camps powered by green energy like solar panels and wind turbines, new cabins that use geothermal heat sources instead of forced air, and wi-fi easily accessible in all the buildings on property. I also would have told you about my dreams for upgrades to programs and resourcing like training conferences and seminars for our volunteers, and about the desire to solicit more outside groups for events like reunions, weddings and conferences.
Today, these are still my dreams—goals that I hope we can attain at some point in the distant future. However, knowing what I now know, my dreams for the short term have shrunk and become more life-sized. I would like to help transition Outdoor Ministries into a more fiscally sustainable and responsible program. I would like to try some new staff and program structuring to bring new ideas and passion to the Division and the ministry to help reinvigorate the program. I would like to re-structure the Division team and then fill that structure with people who are passionate about Outdoor Ministries and the faith formation not only of our youth, but of our churches as a whole throughout the entire year.
My goal is to keep Outdoor Ministries and its faith formation programming going for many years to come, so that one day I will be able to take my grandchildren to camp and instill in them the same love for the outdoors, God and camps that my grandmother instilled in me.