School / Leadership Training Event History
The school was conceived of, designed, and intended to provide new directors, or those who are contemplating outdoor ministries as a career, with
1. the basic knowledge that they need to get started,
2. an awareness of what it is that directors need to know…and therefore, an awareness of their own weaknesses so they can self-direct their development,
3. a connection to peers
4. a connection to ALOMP through faculty and the conference, and
5. a connection with a mentor
In 1991, Outdoor Ministry professionals Paul Kehnle, Randy Gullickson, and Don Johnson (on the strength of his interest and involvement in the American Camp Association) began the task of re-visioning the Association of Lutheran Outdoor Ministry Professionals (ALOMP) by generating a list of the best things that associations do for their membership. Their conclusion was that at the top of the list are networking and education. At that point, creating quality educational opportunities became the prime objective.
Between 1991 and 1994 there were numerous conversations involving Mark Burkhardt, ELCA Director for Outdoor Ministries, Don Johnson, Randy Gullickson and others who had participated in training events in the pre-ELCA church bodies, regarding the development of ongoing education. Noting high turnover among staff in Outdoor Ministries, solid education for directors was set as the highest priority. Responding to the age-old complaint of veteran directors that the conference content was not challenging enough and only the networking was of any value to them, was the second priority.
The basic model adopted for the school was the ACA’s New Director Training program with its idea of focusing on “core” areas. Outdoor Ministries in the ELCA’s predecessor organizations had provided sporadic training for new directors with content that addressed theology, polity, faith development and other Lutheran church camping essentials. It was decided to draw from both curricula to build a new school in order to give new directors the “100 level” essentials they needed to get off to a good start.
The solution for veteran directors who wanted more substance was to design the educational content of Outdoor Ministry Conferences around the core competency areas defined as essential for successful and effective outdoor ministry. Beyond that, for the good of all, the Education Committee was to encourage and promote “Intensives,” “White Paper” studies, opportunities such as the Environmental Education event, the Executive Leadership event, and the ALDE conference, which focus on specific areas of concern.
These conversations provided the concepts that became the substance of the working documents presented to the ALOMP at the 1994 Outdoor Ministries Conference.
ALOMP adopted the working policy documents: “Regularized Continuing Education” and “Three Track.” These documents established the “New Directors” and “New Program Directors” schools, the initial core competency areas, the guidelines for developing each school, and encouraged the development of other “regularized” events. White Papers and Intensives were concepts introduced later and were not formalized in policy.
In addition to adopting the documents, ALOMP (as noted on the bottom of the “Regularized Continuing Education” document) instructed the president to immediately establish the Education Committee and get the process started so that the first school could be offered in 1995.
The first Education Committee was recruited immediately after the conference and work began in January. The first committee was comprised of: Don Johnson (chair), Andrea Scofield, Keith Johnson, Roberta Wentworth, and Marianne Wilkinson.
The Education Committee met in Chicago in January to plan the first school. At that meeting the name of the school was changed to, “ALOMP School: [Administrative or Program] Track” so that people who had been in Outdoor Ministries positions for a while, but who felt they needed the school, would not be put off by the word, “new.” The first school, an “Administrative Track” was offered just prior to the conference in 1995. And the rest, as they say, is history.
At the outset there was concern by everyone in the dreaming and planning process that, after a couple of cycles of schools, everyone who needed or wanted to attend would have done so and the market would thin. It was theorized that if that were the case, the schools would be offered less frequently based on need. The actual scenario came together quite differently as the participation in the school grew steadily which has led to waiting lists. The demand for the school has witnessed to the need for the school and to the school’s success in meeting the needs of the people.
As ALOMP and the Outdoor Ministries Advisory Committee were disbanded and Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (LOM) was being envisioned, the organization went through the process of Appreciative Inquiry. In this process, only the things that are best in the organization – those things that are most important – are brought into the new organization. Through questionnaires, evaluations, and interviews, there continued to be resounding support of education and specifically the Outdoor Ministries Schools.
Over the years, the core competencies have changed very little. Through trial and error and a lot of evaluation, most of the classes taught are still those originally envisioned. The Education Committee feels it is important for the schools to provide an entry-level overview of the classes from the standpoints of administration and program. In 2007, the name was changed from School to Leadership Training Events.