Silver Lake Conference Center will celebrate 60 years of outdoor ministry on August 26 from 11am – 5pm. The celebration will feature a cookout, activities for children, music, worship, and a chance for people to visit the camp and see what has changed, what has remained, and what the future holds for the Connecticut Conference's outdoor ministry site.
Silver Lake’s Executive Director the Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer sees the event as a way to recognize the number of people impacted by Silver Lake in the past six decades. “More than 67,000 campers have come to Silver Lake over the years. We are very excited to welcome back alumni, past counselors, staff and community members to our 60th Anniversary Celebration,” said Gackenheimer.
Silver Lake was purchased by the Connecticut Conference in 1957 and originally only offered summer programming. Today several winterized buildings, including the new Lodge (a state of the art, passive energy retreat building), allow Silver Lake to offer year-round programming and rentals to church and community groups.
Rev. Karl Duetzmann plans to attend the 60th Anniversary. Duetzmann, now the pastor of the United Church of Christ in Devon, first attended Silver Lake when he was in middle school in 1966. He says he didn't want to go to camp, but his parents made him.
"I was lost, lonely, and scared," said Duetzmann. "I did not want to be there."
Duetzmann credits his dean, Guy Outlaw, and his counselors for turning that first experience around and making him feel a part of something.
"It was the first time I was affirmed for who I was," he said. "People started to see stuff in me that I didn't see."
Duetzmann continued to attend camp there after and eventually became a dean, running 35 conferences between 1977-2013. He said what kept pulling him back to the camp was all the things he learned about himself while he was there. Duetzmann traces his call to ordained ministry back to Silver Lake. He also met his wife there, sent all his children to the camp, and even has grandchildren attending the camp now.
Silver Lake's 2017 8-week summer session comes to a close this Saturday. When all is done, the camp will have hosted 37 conferences, led by 264 volunteers including 73 deans. This season over 900 youth will have experienced the extravagant welcome and affirmation of God's love for all at Silver Lake this summer.
On August 26, all are welcome to come celebrate 60 years of those experiences. Their will be food, activities for children, and music provided by The Wild Cat Creek Band. Worship will begin at 4pm. Registration is required. Tickets are $15 per person with a family maximum of $60. Commemorative 60th T-shirts are available to purchase at the time of registration for an additional $10. Click here to register.