IN THE MIDST OF
75 Years at Camp Lone Star
by Ron Lammert
A publication of
Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas
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IN THE MIDST OF
75 Years at Camp Lone Star
by Ron Lammert
A publication of Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas
Printing and Design by
A division of Lammert Incorporated
San Antonio, Texas
Devotion Hill was always a place of inspiration, devotion and memories for those attending camp in the early years. That tradition has continued over 75 years, although the site for
campfire devotions may have changed names and locations a few times.
Copyright © 2016 Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing
from the copyright holder. All inquiries should be addressed to Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas, P.O. Box 457, La Grange, Texas 78945, 800-362-2078, www.lomt.com.
Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2016944995
In the Midst of God’s Creation - 75 Years at Camp Lone Star
author: Ron Lammert
designer: Colin Hart
administration: Donna M. Mata
Melissa G. Quinn
book sales: Dee Steidle
production: Katy Lammert
Christopher D. Sturdevant
2 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
9 CHAPTER 1 The Early Years - Ted Lammert
31 CHAPTER 2 The First Transition - Rev. Edmund Frank
37 CHAPTER 3 Mr. John - Rev. John J. Socha
49 CHAPTER 4 Camp Lone Star Comes of Age - Garland Midgett
75 CHAPTER 5 The Professor of Camp - Keith Lund
85 CHAPTER 6 Why Does Camp Matter?
95 TOM AND LOMT BOARD MEMBERS
97 VIEWS FROM THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION
The new manager’s cabin was constructed during Rev. Frank’s tenure as Camp Manager.
Contents ✦ 3
Driving on Camp Lone Star Road, people are greeted by animal life and
trees lining both sides of the road. Stately oak trees are all around camp with
leaves rustling in the wind. Deer are seen drinking from the lake, outside the
Johnson Retreat Center, in the morning and evening hours. God’s nature
surrounds people and is a major part of a Camp Lone Star experience.
Nature is used throughout the Bible as a sure sign of God’s power and
truth. According to Isaiah, God’s children “will go out in joy and be led forth
in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the
trees of the field will clap their hands” (Is. 55:12). King David wrote in
Psalm 9, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the
works of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night
they display knowledge.” A Camp Lone Star experience brings these
passages and others to the forefront for all.
This book, In the Midst of God’s Creation, celebrates the lives of many
people who have made Camp Lone Star what it is today. Many have invested
time and money over 75 years to ensure that others could enjoy nature and
God’s love. People share their experiences at Camp Lone Star along with how
the camp affected their lives and vocations. Historical facts along with
personal sharing tell the history and ministry of Camp Lone Star.
Thank you to the people who contributed to the making of this book.
Special thanks go to Ron Lammert for sorting through hundreds of pages of
historical records and for his commitment to this project.
Camp Lone Star’s history is marvelous, and its future is bright like the
stars shining in the clear night sky. Many more memories will be made through the summer camping programs, retreats, and other
gatherings throughout the year. Join with nature and God’s people thanking Him for 75 years of ministry in the midst of His creation.
Rev. Ken Hennings
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
4 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
BY RON LAMMERT
A lot of folks think the finest part of Texas is the stretch of rolling prairie bordered with pin oak
and cedar woods, between Houston and Austin. Through this fertile and historic region runs the
Colorado River. And situated on the banks of that river is the town of La Grange, a place of heritage
ranging from the heroic to the scandalous. And it is near La Grange where a beautiful piece of ground
is home to Camp Lone Star, a supportive organization of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
(LCMS). Camp Lone Star celebrates 75 years of service in 2016.
It is not much of a surprise that the founders of Camp Lone Star chose this site for their permanent
encampment. It is just a few miles from Serbin, where Wendish Lutherans settled in 1854, after a
devastating ocean voyage resulting in the loss of 73 lives to cholera and yellow fever, out of a total of
588 emigrants. These hardy pioneers came to Texas to preserve their Lutheran faith and to find new
economic opportunity. They became the first Texas congregation to join the fledgling Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod, and they helped spread LCMS congregations throughout Texas. The camp is
also situated between Houston and Austin, an area of the state with the highest LCMS concentration.
When the camp was acquired in 1941, it was a brushy tract of 50 acres on the Colorado River,
with no structures. The first buildings were built by volunteers and crafted with rough cut pine
exteriors. Today those crude buildings have been replaced by modern facilities for summer campers
and retreat groups. A four to six acre lake, a modern swimming pool, a challenge course and a
covered athletic court grace the campus. The camp has acquired additional wooded tracts and today
covers 260 acres. Much of the area is home to whitetail deer and other native species.
But when folks recount their experience at Camp Lone Star, it is rarely about the scenic beauty of
the land, or the functional buildings for meeting, eating and sleeping. And it’s not about the historic
location, or the deer, armadillos and raccoons that roam this piece of God’s Creation.
Instead what you hear about are relationships--experiences with people and with God, in a very
special intentional Christian community. Camp Lone Star was designed to be, and has kept its focus,
as a place where you can meet Jesus without the distractions, noise, negativity and chaos of the world
The Lammert family, Ted, Ruth and
Ronnie, pose at the old bridge on the
trail from the dining hall to the center
of camp, c. 1951.
Introduction ✦ 5
The Fayette County Courthouse, built
in 1891, dominates the skyline of
downtown La Grange, and reminds
all of the sense of Texas heritage so
evident in the region.
PHOTO BY JEFF WICK. COURTESY OF THE FAYETTE
outside. Camp Lone Star is a place for kids, and
the heart of camp is a dynamic summer camp
program. But it is also a place for adults to
experience their faith through retreats, meetings
and time away from daily life.
I know a lot about Camp Lone Star because I
grew up at camp. My father, Ted Lammert, was
the first director, or resident manager, of Camp
Lone Star, when camping programs began, in
1945. My mom, Ruth Lammert, was in charge of
the kitchen. I was born in 1946. My sister,
Bekki, joined us in 1954. It was a great life,
spending those first nine summers of my life at
camp. There were always such great people
around. And there were fun lessons about Jesus
and His love for all. Music was always a big part
of camp and we ended every day with a
campfire devo. Food was outstanding and no
one ever complained about spending summer
months with only electric fans for relief from the
Texas heat. Back then everybody at camp got a
nickname. Mine was “Lemon,” because I loved
to suck on sour lemons I lifted from the camp
kitchen. I got to ride into town in the old orange
panel truck to pick up eggs, meat and produce
with my friend, Howard Lacey, as driver.
Howard and I still talk about those memorable
days. I also got to swim in a swimming pool just
about every day, all summer long. Nobody I
knew back in Katy got to do that. I was a kid
who grew up going to church, Memorial
Lutheran in Katy. But my walk with Jesus
really bloomed as a result of those years
at camp. Being with people who constantly
talked, played, studied, laughed and lived their
faith in Jesus Christ was just so compelling for a
Even after my dad was no longer camp
manager, I still went to camp as a camper. And
I attended LSV School, short for Lutheran
Service Volunteers. As a high school junior I
applied to be a counselor and was accepted. Yes,
they let high schoolers be counselors in those
days. Our training and expectations were
meager compared to how summer counselors
are trained and motivated today. But it was a
super experience, being able to lead a “tribe” of
boys, some who were only four years younger
than me. And it was great to work with our
family friend, John Socha, the manager of camp
in the 1960s.
After my experience as a counselor, my
connection to Camp Lone Star took a break,
even though those great memories remained. I
got married to my love, Glenda, got a couple of
degrees and started a business. We had three
daughters, and when they started approaching
camp age, it was time to come back. Mike
Linebrink invited me on a LOMT fishing trip,
talked me into joining the Development Council,
which led to membership on the LOMT Board
and eventually election as President of the Board.
All this time our three daughters attended
Camp Lone Star and loved it. Missy and Johanna
had great experiences at camp, but for my
youngest, Christy, it became a passion. She did the
entire camp career routine: camper in elementary
and middle school, Junior Staff during high
school, Counselor while attending Baylor, and,
most important, she found a husband at camp.
Christy and Daniel O’Shoney were married in
August, 2011. Today, they serve God through
their work with the Our Saviour New York
(OSNY) Midtown Manhattan Congregation.
Last summer my five-year old granddaughter,
Amelie Lammert, attended camp. She became
the fifth generation of the Lammerts, counting
my grandmother, who participated in Camp
Lone Star activities.
All this to say that someone came up with the
idea that I write a book about the history of
Camp Lone Star for the 75th anniversary. How
6 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
could I turn down an opportunity like that?
I began planning how to approach the book
in August 2014. Several challenges immediately
became clear. There were very few previous
histories of Camp Lone Star, at least of any
length. Many of the documents that were readily
available were board minutes of Texas Outdoors
Ministry and Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of
Texas. These cover the years from 1979 on, but
leave the years of 1941 to 1979 pretty blank.
The challenge of getting documents from the
early years, particularly 1941 to 1972, I hoped,
would be in the archives of the Texas District.
Keith Lund and I requested archive
documents that dealt with Camp Lone Star
through that period. Thanks to Meredith
Wright, with the District staff, we were
presented with 20 bankers boxes full of papers,
most in no particular order. Over several days
Keith and I were able to look at each piece of
paper in those boxes. If we found something of
interest, and we found a lot, we took a
photograph of it. Thanks to my friend, Dwight
Andreas, who helped with the photography of
Additionally, I began to schedule interviews.
Most were recorded, and the subjects were
people who have been involved with Camp
Lone Star, from the very earliest years to the
present. I spent a lot of time interviewing
Garland and Stell Midgett, of course. Their
working tenure with the camp occupies about
33 of the 75 years the camp has been in
existence. But I also spent a lot of time with
others, especially individuals who could share
memories of early camp years. One of those was
Arnold Mathias, of Waco, who is the only living
person we could locate who was actually
present at the Walther League convention in
1941, when the La Grange site for the camp was
accepted. I had forgotten that my cousin,
Kathleen Hite, had worked at camp from 1945
to the early ’50s. Her interview and recollections
of early camp life were incredibly helpful.
Some others who participated in formal or
informal interviews are as follows: Suzanne and
Vince Neuhaus, Katherine and Gene Bode, Janet
and Glenn Hurta, Keith and Jill Lund, Rev. Larry
Krueger, Suzanne Mueller, Jonathan Socha,
Peggy Berry, Howard Lacey, Wes and Puddin
Krueger, Karin Warren, Matt Chambers, John
Hawkins, Christy O’Shoney, Rev. Ken Hennings
and Mike Linebrink.
Special thanks to Charlotte Hintze, a
daughter of Camp Manager Rev. Edmund Frank.
Charlotte helped gather her brothers and sisters
to recall memories of their family’s brief twoyear
service as the camp manager family. And
special thanks to those family members: Emily
Louise Frank, Jane Elizabeth Thompson, Sara
Louise Frank, John Richard Frank, Mary Elaine
Dobrasko, Charlotte Ann Hintze, Edmund Paul
Frank, Jr., and Janet Victoria Naumann.
I’ve also had a lot of phone calls and
discussions from others eager to help with the
project. An example is a call from Evelyn
Buchhorn, who provided a list of people in the La
Grange and Giddings area who were involved in
the early years of camp. Karen Bernhardt provided
photos of Eric Robert, her great uncle, for whom
the old camp gate is dedicated, and who presided
over the infamous 1941 WL Convention.
Fayette County is in the heart of
Texas bluebonnet country. Going in
any direction from La Grange brings
the traveler to similar scenes of rural
tranquility and beauty.
PHOTO BY H. H. HOWZE. COURTESY OF THE
FAYETTE COUNTY RECORD.
Introduction ✦ 7
Deer browsing by the lake is a
common early morning sight at
Camp Lone Star.
Thanks to everyone who has helped in any
way, whether you are listed here, or not.
Photos were less of a challenge. Many photos
exist from the early days of camp, as my dad took
hundreds of pictures and processed them in a
darkroom in the original manager’s cabin. The
camera he used, by the way, I inherited. It is a true
classic, a Voitländer Bessa II, that shoots 120 film.
The camp has a collection of old scrapbooks
that cover much of the early days. Garland and
Stell Midgett provided a number of photos, as did
Janet Hurta. And then we get into the era of digital
photography: There are thousands of camp photos
available on digital media from the past 10 to 15
years, taken by talented staff photographers.
Special thanks to my daughter, Missy Lammert,
for many hours of scanning photographs for this
book. These scans will become a permanent part
of the digital archive of Camp Lone Star.
As I began writing the narrative, one conflict
kept popping up that requires some explanation.
There are many overlapping titles that have been
given to leadership at Camp Lone Star over the
decades. For example, there have been lots of
Camp Directors. But sometimes this was not the
person in charge of Camp Lone Star. Rather the
title might have been used to refer to someone in
charge of a week of camp. The early Walther
League solved this by referring to the main director
of camp, essentially the CEO of camp, as the
Resident Camp Manager. The same thing pops up
years later when the title Camp Director came into
use. There were Camp Directors who directed only
a week of camp. And there were Camp Directors
who may have been in charge of programs for
summer camp, but worked under someone with a
different, and more exalted, title.
To solve the issue of titles and to give
structure to the narrative, I decided to name
chapters after the five individuals who were, in
reality, the true CEOs of Camp Lone Star, over
the years. The five men are Ted Lammert, Rev.
Edmund Frank, Rev. John J. Socha, Garland
Midgett and Keith Lund. One caveat. There
were times when the CEO of Camp Lone Star
reported to another person, but remained the
CEO, with full responsibility for the activities
and management of Camp Lone Star. A good
example of this was the time, in the 1980s and
early 1990s when Karl Petzke was hired
replacing Garland Midgett as “Executive
Director” of TOM. Garland Midgett reported to
Karl, but Garland remained, in every sense of
the word, the CEO of Camp Lone Star. There
were also individuals given the official title of
Camp Director, such as Jim Holmlund, Matt
Behrens and Dr. Phil Frusti, who reported to
either Garland or Keith, but never had the full
authority of the CEO’s mentioned above.
The biggest challenge, however, in crafting the
book is this. Over the past 75 years, tens of
thousands of people have been blessed by the
ministry of Camp Lone Star. At least a thousand,
or more, have worked at Camp Lone Star.
Another group, in the hundreds, has been on
boards of directors: TOM, LOMT, and the
Walther League Camp Board. Another couple of
hundred have served on the Development
Council. How does a book on Camp Lone Star
history ever do justice to all these great people
and their generous contributions? My prayer is
that everyone who reads this book, through
memories recalled, can find himself or herself In
The Midst of God’s Creation.
8 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
T HE E ARLY Y EARS - TED L AMMERT
To really understand Camp Lone Star, you have to understand the Walther League. The Walther
League, after all, was the organization that founded Camp Lone Star. The Walther League’s DNA is
all over Camp Lone Star.
If you were born after 1960, you may have never heard of the Walther League. So a quick
explanation is in order. The Walther League was founded in 1893 and named after C.F.W. Walther,
the first president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. The League was a national organization
for youth and young adults, founded on Lutheran Christian principles. Most LCMS congregations
had Walther League chapters or societies. Groups of congregational chapters were organized into
zones. And state organizations, roughly equivalent to Synodical Districts, were also called Districts.
The international headquarters of the Walther League was in Chicago.
School-age Walther Leaguers were called Junior Leaguers. Those college age and above were
Senior Leaguers. Some Senior Leaguers stayed involved until reaching their 40s.
The Walther League grew rapidly at a time of some of the greatest expansion of the LCMS. The
growth was driven primarily by the embracing of English as the official language of most LCMS
churches. German was dropped in favor of English as a result of anti-German sentiment of World
War I. The language shift opened the Synod to tens of thousands of new congregants.
A second factor was the establishment of The Lutheran Hour radio program by the Lutheran
Laymen’s League in 1930. The program was the first nationally broadcast religious program in the
United States. It had an amazing impact, as thousands of Americans, for the first time, heard
sermons, based on Lutheran doctrine and God’s Word, delivered by Dr. Walter A. Maier. New LCMS
churches were planted and expanded at an unprecedented rate. The Walther League rode this wave
of growth and expanded throughout the U.S., Canada and even Mexico. At one time there were
nearly 5,000 Walther League chapters.
This sandstone sculpture of the
Walther League logo, chiseled by an
unknown artist in the late 1950s or
early ’60s, is displayed in the Retreat
Center as a reminder of Camp Lone
Chapter 1 ✦ 9
A map, published in 1930, showing
the nineteen Walther League Summer
Conference Camps located across
Dr. Maier became a national sensation, with
his staccato style of preaching. Dr. Maier had
been the Executive Secretary of International
Walther League prior to becoming the first
speaker for The Lutheran Hour.
Walther Leaguers met for Bible study, prayer
and worship. They sang hymns and spiritual
songs. They engaged in service projects and
they raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for
Wheat Ridge Ministries, an agency supporting
Lutheran health and human care facilities. But
recreation was also a big part of the Walther
League. Leaguers hiked, played volleyball and
softball, roller skated, went on hay rides and
By the early 1920s Leaguers were holding
“conference camps,” combining convention
work with outdoor camping. One Walther
League District, in Michigan, became the first,
in 1922, to actually found a permanent camp
site. Camp Arcadia, on the shore of Lake
Michigan, was a model for subsequent Walther
League camps, including Camp Lone Star.
The Lone Star District of the Walther League,
comprising the state of Texas and a few
congregations in Mexico, appointed a “Summer
Conference Camp Committee” to report to the
1928 Convention. Serving on that committee
were Rev. G.H. Biar, R.G. Ostoff and E.E. Sitz,
all of Waco. The committee recommended to
the convention a resolution “That we have a
summer conference camp in Texas during the
summer of 1929,” and that a committee be
elected to establish and conduct that camp. The
The Lone Star Leaguer reported in May 1929,
plans for a camp to be held after the annual
Walther League Convention: “Our Summer
Camp Committee has secured Glen Rose Park,
some 23 miles west of Cleburne, Texas, as the
location of our District Summer Camp and has
set the date of camp immediately following our
Convention, namely July 10-14. The Camp
Committee will write each society, giving all
details concerning the camp. What a wonderful
opportunity will be granted us Leaguers to
spend the first part of the week at the
convention in Dallas, and the latter part at
beautiful Glen Rose at our first District League
Camp! Are we going to miss these
opportunities? Not if we can help it.”
Approximately 40 Walther Leaguers attended
the Glen Rose Camp. Was it successful?
According to the Lone Star Leaguer, “’Wherever
and whenever the next summer conference
camp of the Walther League will be, I’ll be
there!’ These words were the parting words of
many who attended the conference last summer
in a camp near Glen Rose, Texas.”
Enthusiasm for conference camps was such
that they continued to be held through the 1930s
at locations, including Ceta Glen Canyon, near
Amarillo, and other retreat and camp facilities.
Enthusiasm for camping continued among
Walther Leaguers. Some of the conventioncamps
were held in primitive tent setups. Others
were conducted in a formal retreat center, like
the one in Kerrville. But by 1940 the Lone Star
District was ready to secure its own property for
a camp, as other Walther League districts had
done. At the 1940 convention, Walther Leaguers
overwhelmingly approved a resolution creating a
Permanent Camp Committee to study possible
locations and financing for the site.
By the Spring of 1941, the Permanent Camp
Committee had two sites to recommend, as
recorded in the Lone Star District Board minutes:
“Mr. Jutzi, a member of the Permanent Camp
Committee gave a report on two camp sites that
have been inspected, one of which is located at
Lampasas and the other at La Grange. Rev.
Buchschacher gave a report on the Lampasas
site, on behalf of the Bluebonnet Zone.”
10 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
The minutes also record that the representative
present from the International office of Walther
League, Rev. Coates, “advised that International
does not encourage Districts to set up permanent
camps, especially in these times.” Coates was
certainly referring to the war raging in Europe,
and the military buildup in Japan.
Despite Coates’ advice, the board wanted a
camp. A motion was made, seconded and
carried that set the matter before the 1941 Lone
Star District convention, to be held in San
Antonio July 4-6, 1941.
Although the actual minutes of the
convention cannot be found, according to a
Camp history, published for a Walther League
convention a few years later, two decisions were
reached at the San Antonio convention. First, it
was “decided to purchase and equip a
permanent camp.” The second decision, on
which site to select, was likely the more difficult
of the two. The Lampasas site included cabins
and was situated on a branch of the Lampasas
River. However, it would require raising of
$4,000 to purchase the property. The La Grange
site was being offered at no cost to the Walther
League, but it had no improvements at all.
A column in the La Grange Journal, “The
Rambler,” reported that the La Grange
delegation to the Walther League convention
would be wearing, and urging other Leaguers to
wear, badges decorated with orange and black
streamers, and the motto: “La Grange, Where
The Best Begins”. According to Evelyn
Buchhorn, of Austin, one of her relatives, Alfred
Fisher, was a La Grange delegate who spoke at
the convention in favor of the La Grange site.
Fisher was killed in the war a few years later.
The convention selected the 50-acre La
Grange site, which was donated to the Lone Star
District by Fred Wilkens and William Hermes.
Wilkens was the property owner and Hermes a
local La Grange resident who paid Wilkens a
partial payment for the property. The La Grange
Journal stated that the actual vote was 56 to 55
in favor of the La Grange site.
Without a doubt the debate at the San
Antonio convention was intense. In its report of
the convention, the La Grange Journal described
the action: “The fight began Friday—pardon the
use of the word—and for two hours the various
pro and con discussions continued. It soon
From the June-July, 1935, Lone Star Leaguer:
Where? To the Methodist-Kerrville Assembly, Kerrville, Texas, August 11th to
18th, to attend your District Convention-Camp, and have the grandest vacation
of your lifetime at the unusual low price of $10.00. We will give you a perfect
vacation for eight full days. We know it sounds unreasonable that you can have
a grand and glorious vacation for only ten dollars over and above your transportation.
Yet your District, through its officials has made this possible.
What makes for a perfect Christian vacation? Don’t you agree that these are
essential features, namely, the true Christian atmosphere and fellowship,
delightful and enjoyable education, inspiration, wholesome recreation, lots of
fun and plenty of laughter, beneficial athletic activity, plenty of rest, and lots of
good eats? If you do, and we don’t see how you can feel otherwise, then you will
spend your vacation with us in Kerrville. We offer you all these features and in
their proper proportion:
Our schedule for each camp day is briefly as follows:
8:15—Educational Conference and Open Forum.
12:30—Rest or Quiet Hour
2:00—Contests, hikes, swimming
8:15—Wiener roasts, camp fires, stunt programs, fellowship programs
9:45—Evening Devotion in Group
We do not have space to give you the detailed features, yet we assure you
there will be enough variety so that you, no matter what you like, will find plenty
of things you’ll enjoy.
Rev. A.J. Meyer will serve as dean, Mrs. E.F. Wilkening as dietician, matron and
chief cook, and the undersigned as manager. They will put forth every possible effort
to satisfy you in every way.
Decide now, if you have not already done so, to spend your vacation in the
“Heart-O-the Hills” August 11-18. The climate is invigorating, the surroundings
most beautiful, the program, attractive and inspiring, and your association, your
fellow Lutherans and Leaguers, extremely delightful and enjoyable.
Secure a registration card immediately from your society secretary or chairman
of Christian Service, or write to the undersigned and forward it to us immediately.
One and all, think Convention- Camp, talk Convention-Camp, and be
at Convention-Camp August 11 to 18 at Kerrville, Texas.
Bernhard F. Jutzi, Houston Texas
became apparent that those who were favoring
Lampasas, were playing for time, they wanted
the discussion to be renewed on Saturday
Chapter 1 ✦ 11
ecause the Mayor of Lampasas was due to arrive
that day and to tell his story. And he came.”
“Saturday morning the camp again came on
for discussion, and it was presented to the
convention by the Mayor of Lampasas that
property valued at $60,000 was available for the
sum of $4,000, and with that a few other good
suggestions. La Grange retaliated, thru Rev.
R. P. Nerger (pastor of Trinity Hill Lutheran
Church), that the site at La Grange was
tendered through the philanthropy of a local
citizen, and that caused the thought to
become closeted in the minds of the delegates
attending, that it would be an unwise trade, to
give the $1,000 proposition, already cinched,
for a possible $60,000 location knocked down
In order to accept the offer of the property
from Mr. Wilkens and Mr. Hermes, the
Executive Board of the Lone Star District created
and incorporated a Walther League Camp
Association, in the fall of 1941. This Association
became the legal holder of the title of the camp
property at 10:15 a.m. on November 10, 1941,
the official birth date of the Walther League
Camp. Also organized was a Camp Board to
direct the development and activities of the new
camp. Original members of the Camp Board
were John Babcock, J.P. Kelson, Rev. Robert
Nerger, Dr. A.H. Rebsch, B.F. Jutzi, and Eric
Robert. Original members of the Camp Board
became incorporators of the Walther League
Camp Association. The Camp Board was later
augmented with the addition of Marie
Bornemann, H. Ritter, Henry Schutte, Rev. Max
Studtmann and Ted Lammert (ex-officio
member). The Board appointed Mr. Arthur
Fehr, of Austin, to be the architect for the camp.
The Camp Board was reluctant to begin
major expansion of the camp during the war
years. It was initially decided that until the war
ended, no permanent construction would be
undertaken. But the Camp Board did agree to
begin raising money for the eventual
construction of buildings and to erect
temporary facilities, so the camp could be used.
It is apparent that the camp property did not lie
completely fallow during the war years. In
Walther League documents Leaguers who
helped clear camp property during “work
camps” were repeatedly thanked.
A crude kitchen, dining room and sleeping
room was erected in 1942 to serve the “work
campers”. The sleeping quarter was 15 by 40
feet and provided space for bunks to sleep 14.
The Texas District-LCMS, at convention
in 1943, approved a fund raising campaign
for the Walther League, so that camp funds
LEGEND I - THE TIEBREAKER
The 1962 Film, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, left us a classic film quote: “This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes
fact, print the legend.”
There is a legend associated with the vote at the 1941 San Antonio convention, on selection of a site for the Walther League camp.
It has come down through the years, in various forms, but always attributed to individuals who were at the convention. The only
living attendee at that convention, Arnold Mathias, either has no recollection of that vote, or he prefers to not remember it. Mathias,
from Copperas Cove, was a strong advocate for the Lampasas site. But he insists his memory about the convention is vague.
With that in mind, and inspired by the young reporter in Liberty Valance, here is the legend.
When Lone Star District President, and convention chairman, Eric Robert called for the vote, delegates were to cast their vote
for either the Lampasas site or the La Grange site. After votes were counted, the result was a tie, 55 votes in favor of each site.
At that point someone remembered that one conventioneer was still in bed, at the nearby housing facility for delegates. It was
suggested he may have overindulged in convention activities the night before. The young man in question was from Copperas
Cove, so most assumed his vote could swing the decision to the Lampasas site. After heated discussion, the vote was held open
until the errant delegate could be found. Upon entering the convention hall the young man was given the opportunity to vote,
and to the surprise of the assembly, he voted for the La Grange site.
Fact or legend? We’ll never know, but either way, it needed to be printed in this book.
Note: nearly 75 years later, Arnold Mathias gave his assessment of the site decision, “Even though I was in favor of Lampasas,
I now know the Lord helped us make that decision in the right direction.”
12 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
could be generated. Unfortunately, the Texas
District also initiated its own War Memorial
campaign to be run at the same time. Still, the
Leaguers were able to raise nearly $7,000 for
The year of 1944 brought sad news to Lone
Star District Leaguers. Their former president,
Eric Robert, of Dallas, who had joined the Army
in 1943, was killed in action in the Battle of St.
Lo, in Italy, in 1944. In a letter addressed to
Lone Star District Walther Leaguers for their
1944 convention, dated April 30, 1944, from
“Somewhere in England,” Robert reminded
Leaguers that, “Some of my happiest moments
have been spent in doing the work of the
League, and its cause has come to be very close
to my heart.” He signed his letter, “God bless
you and your work and keep you all until we
shall meet again.”
Lieutenant Eric Robert was killed in a
friendly fire incident on July 26, 1944.
At the 1944 convention, as the inevitable
conclusion of the war became apparent, plans
began in earnest for a summer camp. A
convention resolution resolved, “that the
department of Christian Knowledge in
consultation with the Executive Board be
instructed to endeavor to conduct a summer
camp at La Grange next summer, if at all feasible.”
The same resolution also noted that the camp
was equipped, at that time, with “physical
facilities” to accommodate groups of up to 30
persons. A second resolve asked that facilities be
expanded over the next year to accommodate
Of further encouragement to the Walther
League was the action of the Texas District in
convention, in 1945, affirming that, “Since the
Camp Program is a vital part of Christian
education, we would urge the delegates to
encourage their young people to attend the
Camp and their congregations to assist in
building and improving and supporting the
Camp at La Grange.” That same year the
Lutheran Layman’s League district convention
resolved, in regard to the camp, “that we pledge
our cooperation to the Walther League in this
A group of men, primarily from La Grange
and Houston, formed an organization they
called, “Association for the Purchase of Land and
the Development of the Camp.” The group was
ultimately responsible for the purchase of
additional land from Mr. Wilkens, bringing the
total acreage to 63. At this time a clause in the
original deed was changed, in cooperation with
Wilkens. The clause had provided that the camp
property would revert to the ownership of
Wilkens and Hermes and their heirs, in the event
Above: Eric Robert shown with his
Biar cousins just before shipping out
for service in Italy.
Below: The cover of the program for
the 1941 Walther League Convention,
held in San Antonio, at which the La
Grange camp site won out.
Chapter 1 ✦ 13
Above: Ted Lammert became the first
Resident Camp Manager of the
Walther League Camp in 1945. He
also served as president of the
Walther League Lone Star District
from 1943 to 1949.
Below: Walther League officers met in
the outdoors of the new camp in 1945
to make plans for the expansion of
the property was no longer used as a “youth
camp”. The new language left out any reversion
of the property to Wilkens and Hermes.
By early 1945, plans were well under way for
the first camp sessions in July. The first camp
director, officially titled “Resident Camp
Manager,” was appointed by the Camp Board,
the current president of the Walther League
Lone Star District, Ted Lammert. There is some
question as to whether Lammert was hired, or
simply appointed, as there is no record of a
discussion about compensation.
In either event, Lammert accepted the task
and responsibilities. At the time he was a high
school teacher at Katy High School. With his
summer free, it allowed him to devote time to
the Walther League camp.
Lammert was a native Texan, born in The
Grove, son of Rev. and Mrs. F.W. Lammert. He
attended Concordia Teacher’s College-Seward,
Nebraska and received a two-year teaching
diploma. His first, and only, call was to the
parochial school at St. Paul Lutheran Church in
Vernon. There, during the 1930s, he was
principal and teacher to eight grades of students
in one classroom. In Vernon, Lammert met and
courted Ruth Teinert. The two were married
He also continued his education and completed
his B.A. in education through West Texas State
University in Canyon. He later completed a
graduate degree at the University of Houston.
In 1941, the Lammerts moved to Houston,
and eventually Katy, where Ted’s classmate at
Seward, T.J. Heinemeier, had been hired as
Superintendent of Schools for the Katy
Independent School District. Lammert was
hired as principal at Katy High School. He later
gave up the administrative position to teach,
and became a teacher of history and
government at Katy High for the next 40 years.
After retiring from teaching Ted Lammert did
not slow down, being involved as a regional
director for AARP, and serving as president of
the Texas Wendish Heritage Society.
Lammert was a logical choice to be Resident
Camp Director in 1945. He had a long history of
work with the Walther League and was a
popular and dedicated Lone Star District
president since 1943. As a teacher, he certainly
knew about working with children. Many
remember Ted Lammert as a natural leader with
a jovial personality, and a drive to make things
happen. He also brought two other assets to the
table. First, he had a high level of self-taught
carpentry and building skill. This would be an
asset as camp structures began to rise, using
volunteer labor. Second was a wife who was a
skilled cook, and also a talented pianist. Ruth
Lammert became the chief cook, in charge of
the camp kitchen, and was also available to
accompany songs and hymns on the piano.
14 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
To the delight of Walther Leaguers and
members of Lutheran churches in Texas, two
one-week camp sessions were held from June 24
through July 8, 1945. The first session was full
with 30 campers and the second had 29. The
only negative event recorded that first summer
was the torrential rain that caused havoc as
campers arrived for the first session. The dirt
and gravel road to camp was impassible for
most vehicles. Several trucks were quickly
rounded up to ferry campers from the Highway
77 intersection to camp.
A report by Rev. Robert Nerger, a Camp
Board member and active in leading 1945 camp
sessions, was given to the Walther League
Executive Committee in which he described the
“success” of the camp. In addition to the two
weeks of camp, Nerger also mentioned that
another 140 attended “Campers Reunion Day,”
evidently a one-day event for Senior Leaguers.
Profit from the first summer of camp was
reported as $196.69.
Enthusiasm over the first sessions of camp
spring-boarded Walther Leaguers into high gear
for fund raising and camp improvements. In
February 1946, Missouri Synod President Rev.
J.W. Behnken was guest speaker at a banquet in
Houston to benefit the “Lone Star Walther
League Camp.” More than 340 tickets were sold
to the banquet, held at the San Jacinto Inn. The
event netted in excess of $5,000, which went
toward purchase of additional camp property.
The Leaguers also organized, during this
time, a booster club of camp donors. More than
200 joined the Booster Club, with a minimum
$1.00 contribution to the camp.
In the 1946 Lone Star District convention
handbook, titled “Build The Camp Special
Edition,” Camp Board Secretary John J. Socha
reported on camp improvements. The first
priority, he noted, was the completed all-weather
road to and from camp. “The road leading to the
camp,” he reported, “was widened, graded and
completely graveled.” He praised the Fayette
County authorities and the La Grange Chamber
Above: Tents were the sleeping
quarters for the first years of camp.
Fortunately many surplus tents were
available as the wars in Europe and
the Pacific came to an end.
Below: Popular Synodical President
Dr. J. W. Behnken speaking at the
camp benefit banquet held in 1946.
Chapter 1 ✦ 15
Above: The lake under construction.
Right: The completed lake is filled, but
had a few remaining obstacles.
of Commerce for their “splendid cooperation” in
getting the road improved.
Second priority mentioned by Socha was that
“a five to seven acre lake is almost completed at
the writing of this report. The lake is situated on
the bed of the creek which leads to the Indian
Well. Its beauty can only be enjoyed by those
who behold it from the newly cleared area atop
Devotion Hill.” (Devotion Hill is now referred to
as Alleluia Devotion Site.)
He also mentioned the barn red color added to
all the existing buildings: “Buildings have been
given an inviting look by a coat of rustic stain. The
work was done by our genial District President.”
Socha referred to the Four Year Plan, begun
at the start of 1946 to raise funds for future
building projects. Congregations and societies
were encouraged to contribute so that work can
continue on “the next permanent projects,”
which he listed as Sanitary Plant, Kitchen
Cafeteria, Dormitories, and Recreation Hall.
The first Girl’s Dorm was built in 1946 in
time for the summer camp sessions. Boys would
still sleep in tents for another year. Before the
end of 1946, the camp had electric lights,
sanitary sewerage and 100 cots and mattresses
A promotional brochure for the 1947 summer
camp described the “temporary” accommodations:
“The camp, located three miles south of La Grange
is temporarily set up to accommodate eighty
children or adults, officer’s quarters being furnished
16 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Top: The first girl’s dorm.
Middle: The one-room camp
Bottom: The camp’s first aid building.
for staff members. Two dormitories, each holding
twenty bunk beds, are located at the temporary
location on the south-east end of the camp site. All
children are housed in well-ventilated dormitories
with ample and healthful facilities. In addition to
these accommodations, there is a clean kitchen and
a conveniently located dining hall. All buildings are
equipped with electric lighting facilities, running
water, and clean toilets and showers. An outdoor
canvas covered hut provides shelter for meeting,
classes, lectures, etc.”
“Ample space for recreational activities of
various types is provided on the large,
beautifully wooded camp site. It might be
mentioned that although the present buildings
and accommodations are not a part of the
permanent camp plans, they are very adequate
for the present time, being well constructed and
The permanent Girl’s Dorm and Recreation
Hall (now the Celebration House) were built in
1948, along with a one-room Manager’s Cabin.
The Dining Hall and Kitchen, funded by the
first of many grants from the Lutheran Women’s
Missionary League (LWML) was constructed in
1950. The previous “temporary” kitchen and
dining hall was built onto the end of the boys’
dormitory. The old dining room was so small
that many campers chose to eat outside under
the trees. Also built in 1950 was the enlarged
office and trading post, funded by a donation
from Mrs. A. E. Kramer, of Wichita Falls.”
The entrance to the Walther League Camp
was marked by a massive twin monument gate,
named after the deceased former Lone Star
Chapter 1 ✦ 17
Top: Office and Concessions.
Middle: The Rec Hall, today known as
Bottom: New girl’s dorm.
18 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Top: The Staff Building.
Middle: An architectural sketch of the
Eric Robert Memorial Gate.
Bottom: The Eric Robert Memorial
gate was the main entrance to the
camp from 1950 until the late
1980s. A plaque on the back side
of one of the monuments tells
about the dedication to Eric Robert,
former Walther League Lone Star
Chapter 1 ✦ 19
To help encourage camp registrations, the 1947 brochure gave
prospective 8 to 12 year old campers a description of “A Day At Camp”.
We were up by 7:30…muscle builders out in the open air woke those who
still may have walked about with their eyes a bit shut…Five minutes of these
“brawn-builders” and back to our dormitories we scampered…Washed, dressed,
readied for breakfast by 8…After breakfast we made our beds and tidied the
dormitory. Some helped with the dishes…A brief period of silent meditation
came just before the nine o’clock devotional period…”Deacon” Strickert spoke
to us about the Theme: “I’m God’s Boy.” God created me and I belong to Him…
”Capp” Socha helped us in organizing some games and we decided what
activities we were going to plan for the rest of the day…Before we knew it we
were getting washed up for lunch. “Mom”—“Happy” Temme sure is a good
cook…After helping my tribe with the dishes we spent some time resting
“quietly” in our bunks…Then out for a long hike after “Pop” Lammert told us
all about the Walther League and “Cutie-Cura” Stelzer (We called her that
because she cured our ailments, and we thought she was quite cute) taught us
the Walther League Song…We played some games of volley ball and other
games before getting ready for supper…Our Bible and Catechism adventure
took us through parts of the Bible and the Catechism which show that we are
God’s children…We couldn’t wait until we started on the surprise Treasure Hunt
which took us to all parts of the camp grounds…We found the treasure on top
of Devotion Hill where we played some games and had our evening devotion
under the stars…”Left, left, you’ve got it, now keep it, now keep it, you’ve got
it, you’ve got it, now keep it in step. Left, left, etc…” Back to camp for a snack.
Bed sure felt good when the lights went out at 9:30.
more than 500 Leaguers and friends of the camp.
The Texas Messenger section of The Lutheran
Witness reported on the dedication: “Three
sisters of Eric, the sainted youth worker, took
part in the dedication ceremony. Alice Robert cut
the gate ribbon, Ann Robert unveiled the bronze
dedicatory plaque, and Mrs. H.T. Biar placed the
memorial wreath at the foot of the Gate
Foundation. Rev. George Buchschacher of Waco
conducted the memorial service.” The gate was
designed by Casper Winter of Pasadena.
Through this period the Walther League
Camp operated only during the summer
months, and could be rented on special request
at other times of the year. Summer camp
continued to grow and prosper. Each session of
camp had Bible Study and worship led by a
“dean,” who was a pastor. Activities at each
session were directed by a “Camp Manager,” not
to be confused with the Resident Camp Manager.
As the camp became more popular, each summer
added additional activities. The camp
schedule for 1948 shows a full agenda of camp
sessions stretching from early June to Labor Day:
June 20-July 3
August 29-Sept. 4
Fourth of July Camp
Walther League Camp
Walther League Camp
American Lutheran Camp
Houston Men’s Society
Junior Walther League
Labor Day Camp
Campers line up in pajamas for morning calisthenics.
District President Eric Robert. The Eric Robert
Memorial Gate was dedicated on June 30, 1950
at a solemn dedication ceremony attended by
Walther League Camp $17.00 per week
$3.00 per day
Junior Camp $15.00 per week
$2.75 per day
Boys and Girls Camp $13.00 per week
$13.00 (5 days)
One of those with vivid memories of the
early years of camp is Kathleen Hite of
Georgetown. Kathleen grew up in Vernon, as
Kathleen Kunkel. She was a niece to Ted and
Ruth Lammert, and, as such, she became a
fixture at camp from 1946 to 1952. Kathleen
20 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
said she did “just about everything that needed
doing at camp.” Initially she was a camper
and then took on all kinds of jobs from
kitchen help to manual labor to eventually
working as a counselor. She also had the job of
babysitting the Lammert’s son, Ronnie, who was
born in 1946.
She recalls the early years when boys slept in
army tents and the main activity center was an
“arbor” made with poles planted in the ground
and covered with branches and some canvas.
This was in the same location where the
Recreation Hall was eventually built.
“Bible Study and singing were held under
that arbor,” she said. “It was really nice so long
as it wasn’t raining.” All singing, she said, was
acapella until the Recreation Center was built in
1948 and an upright piano installed.
“Somebody was always playing the piano,
from chopsticks to hymns,” Kathleen related.
“Some of the camp staff were students from
Concordia College in Austin, who had to
practice their piano through the summer. That
piano got a lot of use.”
Hikes to nearby Monument Hill, now a State
Park, were a feature from the earliest days of
camp. After the two to three hour hike, the
campers were met by a camp truck filled with
ice cold watermelons. The Monument Hill
watermelon feast tradition continued at least
until the 1970s.
Kathleen said the campers were organized as
Indian tribes and tribes given common tribal
names, such as Comanche, Apache, Cherokee
and Choctaw. Ted Lammert even built four
totem poles from trees cut for that purpose.
For a period of time Kathleen worked in the
kitchen, at her Aunt Ruth Lammert’s direction. She
was given the job of trying to estimate the cost per
person for meals based on various menus. She said
the food was always delicious, but her aunt came
up with lots of ways to keep food cost down.
“We’d always have fried chicken and mashed
potatoes on Sunday night,” she said, “and then
from the chicken that didn’t get eaten, we’d have
Chicken Ala King on Monday. We had rice one
day with our meal and next we’d have rice
pudding. Early in the week the kitchen staff
would make a large Brownstone Cake that
would last through the week for dessert.”
Skits have long been a camp tradition.
What stories are being acted out here?
Chapter 1 ✦ 21
The granite monument at Monument
Hill, now a state park, is a memorial
to men who died in two separate
events in the 1840s, the Dawson
Massacre and the infamous Black
Bean Death Lottery. The park
provided campers a place to enjoy
watermelons and picnics…and a
beautiful bluff view of La Grange.
Below: Archery was an important
activity in early camp days, even
before a formal archery range
According to Kathleen, a former Marine,
home from the war, set up the first archery
range at camp. She was thrilled to be his helper
because the archery instructor was such a good
looking young man.
The camp day, she said, began with Reveille
played over a loudspeaker. After breakfast, the
campers would raise the U.S. flag on a pole
outside the Dining Hall. They would then go to
the Arbor, or later the Recreation Hall, for Bible
Study. Activities, from shuffleboard to volleyball
to hiking to swimming to archery to wiener
roasts, filled the day. Crafts, particularly
lanyard-making, were also popular. In the
evening the campers trekked to Devotion Hill
for the evening devotion and song. Bedtime was
signaled by the playing of Taps.
Kathleen became close friends with three
members of the Kramer family, from Wichita
Falls. The two Kramer boys, Clinton Kramer
and Clayton “Buddy” Kramer were the camp’s
maintenance crew for several years in the late
1940s. This was at a time when Clinton was a
medical student at Baylor Medical School, and
22 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
ABove: Campers gather for Bible
study in the Rec Hall.
Below: Old Glory was raised each
morning on a wooden flag pole in
front of the LWML Dining Hall.
Bottom: The Resident Camp
Manager, Ted Lammert, also served
as camp nurse during check-in of
Buddy had already completed law school.
Kathleen describes Buddy as “Ted’s Shadow,”
always ready to do whatever the Camp Manager
needed done. The Kramer’s sister, Sherry Lynn,
became Kathleen’s close friend. The experience
at camp led the Kramer’s mother, Mrs. A. E.
Kramer, to share her wealth with the camp, and
become a major donor for a number of projects.
Kathleen’s favorite memory of camp, like so
many others, was the evening trip to Devotion
Hill for campfire devotions. “It is something I
can never forget, and something that was so
meaningful to me.” Kathleen’s sentiments
echoed a piece in the July, 1953 Lone Star
Leaguer, titled, “Campers Do Not Forget”: “What
do the campers remember most? The majority of
them remember the moments spent on Devotion
Hill. The cross, the stars, the singing of familiar
songs without accompaniment, a quiet voice
that speaks of the love of God to sinners—all of
this leaves a deep impression in the hearts of the
campers. ‘Never before have I felt so close to
God’ is a common reaction.”
Howard Lacey, of Austin, a former business
professor at Concordia University-Texas, is
another person with vivid memories of the early
years of camp. He was a camper in the late
1940s and then joined the camp staff for the
summers of 1952 and 1953.
“On Sunday night,” Howard recalls, “all the
campers who had just arrived went to the Rec
Hall and sat in a circle. There you did away with
your name and got a nickname for the week,
Chapter 1 ✦ 23
Volleyball and softball were two of the
most popular recreational activities
for campers and Walther Leaguers.
although some lasted far longer.” Howard said his
sister, Marlene Fay Lacey, (now Parker) was given
the nickname “Sleepy”. She has kept it all these
years, and is known to friends and acquaintances
Another camp nickname that has lasted
through the years belongs to Puddin Krueger.
Puddin says she registered for camp, in 1951, as
Bertha Domaschk, and came back as Puddin
Domaschk. She has kept that nickname through
the subsequent 65 years.
Howard also recalls that many of the
counselors during the early 1950s were
Lutheran parochial school teachers. He recalls
that Betty Bartsch, who taught at Houston
Trinity, helped recruit, train and coordinate
counselors during the years of 1952 and 1953.
Howard takes a lot of pride in his job as the
driver of the old orange panel truck, a 1929
Chevrolet, with the Walther League logo boldly
painted on the side.
“I picked up ice for the kitchen and the
trading post every day, and I got eggs and
vegetables for the kitchen every day,” Howard
says. “I had to be up really early to go into La
Grange and pick up the kitchen helper,
24 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Henrietta “Etta” Kaase, so she could cook
breakfast for the campers.”
On Sundays and Saturdays Howard would
make runs to the bus station and the train
station to pick up and return campers. And
daily he would run the camp’s garbage to the
dump on the east side of La Grange.
He boasts of the slab for the Handicraft Shed
that was hand-poured by the camp staff in 1953.
“The cement, sand and gravel we hauled in a
trailer behind Ted Lammert’s 1943 Chevrolet
Coupe,” Howard said. “I had to back the
trailer up to the cement mixer using no side
mirrors, because they didn’t have them in
those days. It was hard work, but we got it
done and then built the Shed.” The Shed, he
said, is no longer standing, in the area near the
present playground equipment, but the slab is
Howard was also there, in 1953, to hoist the
locomotive bell atop the recently-completed Staff
Building (subsequently named the Ding Dong
Dorm). The bell was the result of a discussion
between Ted Lammert and Rev. Ad. H. Hoyer, of
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Big Spring,
regarding the need for a bell at the camp to signal
meals and other events. Rev. Hoyer wrote the
president of the Texas and Pacific Railroad, Mr.
W. G. Vollmer, asking for a bell from a steam
locomotive that was being dismantled.
The original camp truck was a 1929
Chevrolet panel truck boldly
emblazoned with the Walther League
logo on an orange background. The
iconic vehicle served as transportation
for campers, staff and also was used
to haul food and, at times, garbage.
Chapter 1 ✦ 25
Above: Weiner roasts were a staple of
just about all Children’s and Walther
League camp sessions.
Right: A popular meeting place in
front of the Rec Hall and Trading Post
was the stone and concrete water
Mr. Vollmer wrote back the following: “After
reading your letter, I believe we can make available
a locomotive bell for your Lone Star Camp,
which is devoted to the training of boys and
girls of Texas. We have a very strong feeling
towards activities such as yours which are dedicated
to the sound development of the character
of young boys and girls.”
True to his word, Mr. Vollmer provided the
bell and even transported it to La Grange at no
cost to the camp.
The staff building had been prepared for the
installation of the bell on a platform on the top
of the building. Ted Lammert and three staff
members, including Howard, stood atop the
roof hoisting the heavy bell with ropes.
According to Howard, the job went well until
they got the bell to the edge of the eave of the
roof. It took a huge effort and a long period of
time, with the four balancing on a precarious
perch, to finally pull and put the bell in place.
Fortunately a photographer was present to
record the heroic event.
26 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
SONGS FROM THE 1940S AND ’50S
Songs enjoyed by campers in the 1940s and ’50s were from two sources. First were hymns from the Lutheran Hymnal, that
most campers knew by heart. The other source was Sing Again, the official song book of the Walther League. Following are a few
of the popular songs sung at camp during this period.
TELL ME WHY
Tell me why the stars do shine,
Tell my why the ivy twines,
Tell me why the ocean’s blue,
And I will tell you just why I love you.
Because God made the stars to shine,
Because God made the ivy twine,
Because God made the ocean blue,
Because God made you,
That’s why I love you.
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
We are climbing Jacob’s ladder,
Soldiers of the cross.
Ev’ry rung goes higher, higher…
Sinner, do you love my Jesus?...
If you love him, why not serve Him?...
Rise—Shine—Give God glory!...
We are climbing higher, higher…
King of Creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I’d love Thee,
Truly I’d serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown!
Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer,
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.
Camp Staff—Howard Lacey on the
left, an unidentified staffer in the
center and Ted Lammert on the
right—struggle with lifting the
locomotive bell atop the Staff Building.
The building was later renamed the
Ding Dong Dorm. The bell today
hangs on a modern tower donated by
Mike Schmidt and his family as a
memorial to his father.
Chapter 1 ✦ 27
LEGEND II - THE BURIED TREASURE
There is a second legend about Camp Lone Star. From the earliest days of
camp, there have been rumors about buried gold on the camp property.
These rumors were accelerated in the early 1950s, when Fred Wilkens told
his buried treasure story to a writer for the Houston Chronicle Magazine.
In the published article, by Oswald Mueller, Wilkens tells about the
previous owner of the land he purchased along the Colorado River, Wardin
Barden. A portion of that land, of course, became the first 50 acres of Camp
According to Wilkens, Barden returned from the California Gold
Rush, in 1850, flush with a fortune in gold coins. Because he did not trust
banks, Barden apparently buried the gold on the land subsequently
purchased by Wilkens.
During a hunting trip in Wyoming, Barden died of pneumonia, without
ever telling anyone, including Wilkens, the location of the buried gold,
Wilkens told the reporter.
So how did Wilken even know about the buried treasure? The article does
not answer this question, but one must assume that Wilkens knew Barden
and learned that there was buried gold from the Gold Rush adventurer.
For many years it was always possible that any buried treasure could be
on either Camp Lone Star property, or on the Wilkens farm. But the
acquisition of the entire Wilkens property by the camp in 1992 made it
certain that the gold, if it exists, would be under Camp Lone Star soil.
In the Chronicle Magazine article, Mueller surmises that “the accidental
discovery of the treasure may be reserved for some Huckleberry Finn
sojourning at the Walther League Camp.”
But, before you start digging for buried treasure around camp, remember
this wisdom from Martin Luther: “For in the true nature of things, if we
rightly consider, every green tree is far more glorious than if it were made of
gold and silver.”
The bell now hangs in a bell tower near
the Sugar Shack. It is used for the call for
So far, we have referred to the camp as either
“the camp,” “the Walther League Camp” or “the
Lone Star District Walther League Camp”. We
have done this because up until 1951 most
Lutherans in Texas referred to the camp by one
of those names.
As early as 1942 there was an effort to hold a
contest to name the camp. Whatever was the
result of this contest is lost to history, and the
camp continued to be called, officially and
unofficially, by the generic names in use.
However, in 1951, Marie Bornemann, a
Camp Board member and long-time supporter
of the camp, was authorized to conduct another
A portion of the article in which Fred Wilkens tells about the gold
allegedly buried on his farm, now the property of Camp Lone
Star. Unfortunately, there is no copy that could be found of the
entire article, published in the Houston Chronicle Magazine.
“name the camp” contest by resolution of the
District Walther League convention.
Before the camp name contest began,
however, the editor of the Lone Star Leaguer, the
irrepressible John J. Socha, gave his strong
editorial view in support of “Camp Lone Star”.
Socha wrote: “One of the important resolutions
passed puts the naming of the camp where it
belongs—in the lap of the Leaguers. The name
will come, and it will be a good one, as a result
of the “Name the Camp” Contest which will be
held. This department enters the contest with
the suggestion “CAMP LONE STAR.” What is
Apparently there were few, if any, alternative
names and Socha’s entry won the day. From 1951
on, the official name was Camp Lone Star. There
were a few slip-ups in official minutes, and
probably in conversations, in which the camp
continued to be referred to as “the Walther League
Camp”. But eventually Camp Lone Star stuck.
28 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
After the donation of the original 50 acres, by
William Hermes and Fred Wilkins, a series of
purchases of additional tracts took place until,
by the early 1950s, the total area of Camp Lone
Star consisted of 125.58 acres. This included
over 2,000 feet of frontage on the Colorado
River. This camp acreage remained constant
From the start of camp sessions at Camp
Lone Star, campers and Walther Leaguers
wanted to swim…especially in the hot Texas
summer. By 1947 a plan was in place to bus
summer campers to a location where a pool
existed. A few waded into the lake, of course,
but that made those brave souls even more
adamant about having a pool at Camp Lone
Star. The first place campers were bused was to
the pool at Bastrop State Park. Eventually a pool
was built in Smithville and arrangements were
made for campers to swim there. But the interest
in a Camp Lone Star pool could not be quelled.
As early as 1945, Leaguers began to talk
about where a pool could be situated on the
camp property. And they started discussing how
many dollars would have to be gathered to build
a pool adequate for the growing camp
participation. By 1950 a site was selected and
estimates for construction were prepared. It
appeared the Leaguers would need nearly
$15,000 to realize their dream of a swimming
pool at Camp Lone Star.
The 1951 District Walther League
Convention authorized the Camp Board to
move forward with selecting a contractor for the
pool. On January 27, 1952, Arnold Mathias,
former Lone Star District President, and now a
Camp Board Member, reported to the Walther
League Executive Board on the pool plans.
According to the Executive Board minutes,
“Mathias stated that the bids for the swimming
pool were all within the previously estimated
$13,500. All the Camp Board is waiting for now
is for the Walther League to tell them which
firm and when to start. The Walther League-
Lone Star District, however, does not have the
money to build the swimming pool. All
individuals were encouraged to send in their
pledges and further contributions so that it will
not be necessary to borrow so much money.”
Camp Board member Marie Bornemann
reported that only about $2,000 had been
collected for the pool, and another $2,000 to
$3,000 was expected to “come in, if it would.”
But three months later, in April, 1952, the
Camp Board, with approval of the Lone Star
District Executive Board, borrowed $15,000 to
build the pool. The construction of the pool
took less than a month, and on May 18, 1952,
the swimming pool at Camp Lone Star was
dedicated. It was the first swimming pool to be
constructed in Fayette County, Texas.
The pool was not the only thing happening at
Camp Lone Star in 1952. Ted Lammert reported
to the Walther League Executive Board that a
16mm film on Camp Lone Star, produced by
Reinhold Hunger, a teacher in Caldwell, Texas,
was completed and ready for distribution. There
were also two slide lectures ready for use, one
on Walther League camping and one on
Children’s Camp. The media presentations were
being offered to Walther League societies and
also to congregations to help promote the
activities at Camp Lone Star.
Camp Lone Star got telephone connections
in 1952, as well. Through a contribution of a
telephone lineman, W.G. Meyer of Beasley, two
phone instruments were installed at Camp Lone
Star, with the camp only paying for the lines.
This brought Camp Lone Star into the “analog
age” and allowed important business and
Above: Campers enjoy swimming and
rafting in the recently-constructed
lake at the Walther League Camp.
Below: Arnold Mathias served as Lone
Star District Walther League
President from 1950 to 1951, and
also was a member of the Camp
Board. His claim to
fame, however, is that he is the
only living attendee at the infamous
1941 Walther League Convention
when the La Grange site won out
Chapter 1 ✦ 29
The new swimming pool immediately
boosted attendance at Camp
Lone Star, starting with the 1952
personal phone messages to be delivered
directly to the camp office.
The summer of 1952, with a new swimming
pool in place drew a record attendance. Ted
Lammert reported the numbers to the District
Executive Board: 376 at children’s camping
sessions, 55 during Walther League camp
sessions and 38 at LSV School. In addition to
these were many groups who used the camp for
one or several days or a weekend, including
Labor Day weekend camping.
Before the end of the summer of 1952,
floodlights were installed at the swimming pool
so night swimming was possible. The lights were
donated and installed by Bob Noack of Waco.
Camp attendance continued strong through
1953, 1954 and 1955. During the following
years these improvements were made. The
Kramer staff building was constructed in 1953,
funded by Mrs. A.E. Kramer, the new Boy’s
Dormitory, funded by the LCMS Texas District,
was built in 1954 and a new refrigerator unit for
the kitchen and a garage and washing facility
Attendance in 1953, according to the
Walther League Convention Workbook for that
year, was over 1,000 participating in camp
programs and other use of the camp. Net
income above expenses was reported as $1,700.
But there was a problem at Camp Lone Star.
The Texas District Board of Parish Education,
wanted, and had gained, a role in the content of
camp sessions. In 1951, the Board of Parish
Education was promoting camping sessions, as
though the Board of Parish Education was in
charge of summer camp. There was a conflict
between Ted Lammert, supported by the Camp
Board, and the Board of Parish Education, with
support of the Walther League District
Executive Board, although the details are
difficult to clearly identify. At some point in
1955 accusations were made by someone that
led Ted Lammert to believe his integrity was
Adding to his stress was onset of serious fatigue
and weakness by Ruth Lammert. Her condition
was later diagnosed as chronic leukemia. Although
she lived with the disease for another nine years,
her illness would have kept her from another
summer in charge of the camp kitchen.
Ted Lammert resigned as Resident Camp
Manager in November, 1955. His resignation was
sent and accepted “with regret” at the December
meeting of the Walther League Executive Board,
the same meeting in which it adopted a motion to
run the Children’s Camp under the jurisdiction of
the Board of Parish Education.
Included in this motion was the provision
that “the Walther League rent the camp, furnish
housing, meals, physical facilities; all mail and
program staffing shall be handled by the Board
of Parish Education; insurance shall be taken
out by the Board of Parish Education so that
the Walther League Camp will not be liable
for any personal injury, and that the Board of
Parish Education submit application for
Children’s Camping Sessions to the Executive
Board of the Walther League no later than
January 1 of each year.”
At the December meeting of the Walther
League Executive Board was a “recommendation
that Ray Gerhardt (Lone Star District President)
and Carl Dunk speak to Ted Lammert, the former
Camp Manager, and reach a peaceable
concurrence in all matters concerning the camp.”
The board ordered an audit of the camp’s
books by Camp Board member Edgar Roitsch of
La Grange. No discrepancies were found.
Ted Lammert had shared with his fellow
Leaguers the dream of building a Walther
League Camp in Texas, and now it was a reality.
During his tenure at Camp Lone Star, Ted
Lammert supervised the construction of
buildings and infrastructure that served the
camp from 1945 to 1955, and for the next two
decades. And he helped create the programs and
structure for a growing camp for youth and
adults founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
30 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
T HE F IRST T RANSITION - REV. EDMUND F RANK
With the resignation of Ted Lammert, the Lone Star District Walther League Executive Board
immediately set about finding a replacement. The first suggestion, in December, 1955, was Jerry
Speckhardt, a faculty member at Houston Lutheran High School. According to the Executive Board
minutes, Speckhardt “is very interested to serve in this capacity; although before making a final
decision, he is awaiting additional information concerning this work.”
Members of University Lutheran
Church pose with Rev. Frank.
Chapter 2 ✦ 31
Above: Rev. Edmund Frank became
the second Resident Camp Manager of
Camp Lone Star, and presided over
summer camp sessions of 1956.
Below: Members of the Gamma Delta
chapter of the University of Texas, in
1953, include (left to right) Gus F.
Mutscher, Shirley Jean Dittmar,
Robert W. Bubolz, Louis Edward
Hoffman, Jane Winkler and Rev.
Edmund Frank (seated). Gamma
Delta was the formal organization of
LCMS campus ministries, founded in
1934 and disbanded in 1968. The
UT Gamma Delta Chapter often held
retreats and other activities at Camp
Lone Star during Rev. Frank’s tenure.
Whatever the reason, Speckhardt turned down
the offer. This left the Executive Board scrambling
for a new Resident Camp Manager, as a full
summer of camp sessions was due to start in May.
The Executive Board turned to an active
participant at Camp Lone Star, with a full resume
of previous Walther League camp experience.
The offer of the position was accepted by Rev.
Edmund P. Frank. Rev. Frank was the pastor of
University Lutheran Church in Austin, the
campus ministry of the University of Texas.
Frank was the first campus pastor in Texas
appointed by the LCMS Texas District.
Rev. Frank was a native Kansan, and was
reared in Winfield, Kansas, where he attended
Trinity Lutheran School, St. John’s Academy and
St. John’s College. He completed his seminary
training at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis in
1941. Rev. Frank, and his two brothers, Walmar
and Victor, were the fourth generation of Franks
to be ordained as Lutheran ministers. Rev. Frank
married Esther Grace Johnson, whom he met at
a Walther League convention, the same year he
After a few months as chaplain of the Boy
Scouts in the St. Louis area, Rev. Frank accepted
a call to serve at Trinity Lutheran Church in
Norman, Oklahoma. While serving at Trinity
Lutheran, he became the student pastor for the
University of Oklahoma and remained in that
position for ten years.
He also became involved in Oklahoma’s
Walther League camp, Lutherhoma, where he
served as secretary of the camp’s board of
governors. He served as lecturer and recreation
director at the camp. In 1952 Frank went to
Illinois where he served at the Walther League
Camp CILCA. Frank also had camp experience
at Camp Lake Geneva in Wisconsin and Camp
Arcadia in Michigan.
During Rev. Frank’s time in Oklahoma, he
earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the
University of Oklahoma. In addition to his
studies and ministry duties, Rev. Frank had his
hands full as father to six children, with another
on the way.
The Franks moved to Austin in 1953 and
Rev. Frank accepted the appointment as the
Walther League International Representative to
Camp Lone Star. He was installed as the first
campus pastor for the University of Texas on
September 27, 1953. Frank also served as
instructor of Bible for the University of Texas
Lutheran Bible Chair.
As campus pastor, Rev. Frank took the UT
Chapter of Gamma Delta on retreats at Camp
Lone Star, and served on the staff of several
youth and Walther League camp sessions. Frank
was ready, when the Executive Board called, to
accept the role as Resident Manager of Camp
In preparation for his first summer at Camp
Lone Star, Rev. Frank, wrote a column in the
32 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
May, 1956 edition of the Lone Star Leaguer, titled
“Grow-Play-Rejoice at Camp Lone Star”. In the
column he emphasized the spiritual side of
camp life: “Have you ever wondered why God
made the world so beautiful? Or does the fact
that you live in the city permit you only to see
so many wooden structures, brick buildings,
and concrete streets? If so, you need to come
apart for a while and let God reveal Himself to
you in nature. The place to do this is at our own
Camp Lone Star in La Grange.”
“If you pack your bag and head for camp
sometime this summer, God will speak to you as
He fills the night sky with its myriads of stars, or
early some morning at the hush of dawn when
you eat your breakfast beneath a beautiful tree,
or at night when you see the glory of the sunset
from some plateau of rocks. It will help make
“At camp you will grow—‘in the grace and
knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’
2 Peter 3, 18.”
In the same issue of the Leaguer the camp
promotion committee announced the design of
the official Camp Lone Star flag. The design, by
Martha Nerger, of Hamilton, was the winner of
a “flag designing” contest sponsored by the
Walther League. The design incorporates a
cross, a star and a life preserver in colors of
green, white and black on a background of gold.
There was a full complement of camp
sessions in 1956 and, using the models already
established, the camp season was again
successful. Assisting Rev. Frank was a summer
staff consisting of Frank’s wife, Esther (called Es
by her family), and Ted Schroeder of La Grange,
as well as several other workers. Etta Kaase, the
former kitchen staff helper, was promoted to be
in charge of the kitchen.
The tradition of a barbecue and Walther
League reunion continued during the summer
of 1956 and 1957.
By the end of the 1956 summer camp, Rev.
Frank had learned some important lessons
about camp management which he
incorporated into a “Set of Camp Directives”
presented to the Camp Board for approval.
Among the directives were:
• From the physical side of things, the manager
of the camp shall be in complete charge. Any
changes in the rules must have his approval.
• No person attending camp shall try to do the
Manager’s work without his permission.
• All persons in attendance (counselors
included) shall be on time for their meals—
especially breakfast at 7:30 (not 7:45).
Above: Attendees of a University
Lutheran Church retreat.
Below: Ed Frank and his daughter,
Sara, enjoy the cool waters of the
Camp Lone Star swimming pool.
Chapter 2 ✦ 33
Above: Rev. Edmund Frank, on the
left, served as International
Representative for the Walther League
to Camp Lone Star in 1953. He is
shown with the summer staff (left to
right): Rev. Herman Newnaber, Dean;
Miss Elaine Schrank, Girl’s
Counselor; and Rev. Frank Gruell,
Right: Although the Rec Hall was used
for multiple purposes, it was furnished
with an altar that often served as the
focal point for worship services.
• No dogs, cats, or pets can be allowed at
camp. (Please leave these at home with the
• No squirting of water guns is allowed on the
inside of any building.
• Pillow fights are taboo. They destroy
property. The person caught in this
misdemeanor will have to pay for the
• No person is to charge items in the name of
the camp with merchants in La Grange
without the manager’s instructions to do so.
The directives were approved at the
September meeting of the Camp Board, with
instructions that they be sent to all Board
members. At that meeting, approval was given
for construction of a new Camp Manager’s
residence. The Franks, including seven
children, spent their first summer in the
rudimentary manager’s cabin that had been in
use for the past decade.
In addition to the new manager’s residence
building, several other projects were completed
prior to the 1957 camp season. In a letter from
Camp Board chairman, Edgar Roitsch, of La
Grange, to Rev. Frank and Ray Gerhardt,
Walther League District president, some of these
accomplishments were outlined.
Roitsch reported that the original water well
was decommissioned and a new well drilled on
May 15. “It is 94 feet in depth and water comes to
within 44 feet from the top. Do you want to
believe the “Switcher” said this is where we would
find water? The driller (Mr. Lange of Columbus)
pumped the well steadily for 3 ½ hours and stated
that he felt confident that it would produce
around 900 gallons an hour at ease.”
Fish stocking of the lake was also a topic of
Roitsch’s letter: “Pastor Frank, have you told Ray
that I had the Game, Fish and Oyster
Commission stock the camp tank with 250
channel cats, 250 bass, and 500 bream? If not,
he knows it now.”
He also mentioned that repairs requested by
Rev. Frank on various camp buildings were
about to get started. And he noted that Ted
Schroeder “is relieving me of the job of cleaning
the camp pool this year.” In the days when
Camp Lone Star was only open during the
summer, the pool was drained and shut down at
the end of each summer session. Rain, algae,
dirt, frogs and snakes made the pool a mess to
clean and put back into useable shape each May.
Thanks to a volunteer team of Leaguers, the
pool was drained of the vermin, and scrubbed
with wire brushes and chlorine solution to bring
it back to life.
Following are some of the Frank family
• In 1953, Ed brought Es and Sara along to
camp, where he served as the Walther League
International Representative. Es wanted to
have fun with the campers, so she taught
Sara how to short-sheet their beds, crawl
under toilet stalls to lock the doors, so no
one could get in, unscrew light bulbs and
34 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
mix up suitcases. Ed was well aware of Es’
• Ed was Manager and Counselor of Camp
Lone Star for two years. Because he had the
summers off from his UT duties, he was able
to help out.
• Ed and Es received a $250 bonus for their
work at the camp during 1956.
• Ed loved going to camp because he would get
to stay on his favorite diet of fried chicken
and ice cream.
• While the family was at camp, they were
housed in a cabin on the outskirts of camp.
One day Charlotte was sitting on the toilet
when she heard a rattle coming from the
ceiling, only to see a snake in the vent! She
was so scared she didn’t even pull up her
pants, but went waddling out screaming for
help from her daddy.
• During the summer of 1957 Ed put Sara in
charge of ordering all the candy, gum and
soda for the concession stand. She was 11
and Ed wanted to teach her how to count
money, make change and order supplies.
• The camp profited under Ed’s two summers
as Manager, and along with his and Es’ frugal
methods, the camp had enough money to
build new housing for the Resident Camp
Manager and family.
• On Saturday mornings, Ed would take the
family on morning hikes to Monument Hill
where they had breakfast. Then some would
ride with him in the truck to get ice in La
Grange. Es would drive back to Austin with
Jane and John for John’s cello lesson. Jane
helped her mother with grocery shopping,
getting mail and doing laundry.
• One day of each camp session the campers
would hike to Monument Hill singing “We
Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”. Then Ed
would lead them in evening devotions.
Returning back to the camp kitchen, they all
enjoyed a bedtime snack of Hydrox cookies
and bottles of ice cold milk.
• If a camper was late for a meal, all the
campers would sing:
Round the table you must go, you must go,
you must go.
Round the table you must go.
You’ve been naughty.”
Another fun tradition to teach table manners
was to say:
Mable, Mable, strong and able,
get your elbows off the table.
This is not a horse’s stable,
but a first class dining table.
Above: Rev. Ed Frank (right) is shown
talking to a staff member outside the
Below: “Mable, Mable, strong and
able, get your elbows off the table.”
You’ve been primping; you’ve been primping.
Now you’re late; now you’re late.
Start a little earlier; start a little earlier.
We won’t wait; we won’t wait.
Chapter 2 ✦ 35
Top and middle: In 1956 Camp Lone
Star announced the winner of a
design contest for an official camp
flag. The winner was Martha Nerger
of Hamilton, Texas. The finished flag
is shown displayed in front of the
LWML Dining Hall.
Bottom: This is the last family photo
of the Frank family taken while Rev.
Edmund Frank was living. Front
row (left to right): Charlotte, Janet,
and Edmund, Jr. Middle row: Mary,
Sara, and John. Back row: Esther,
Jane, and Edmund. The photo was
taken in February 1958.
• There was a pet monkey in a cage in the
center of the camp. (Author’s Note: this was
likely the same monkey brought to camp by
Ted Lammert in 1954 or 1955. Where did he
live when camp was not in session? RL)
• Frank children were often invited to join in
square dancing with the campers.
Kitchen snacks often consisted of Hawaiian
or Delaware punch, celery sticks, carrots,
ham and peanut butter sandwiches.
• It was fun counting Daddy-long-legged
spiders that clustered in the cabin corners.
• Ed asked the children to pick up dried cow
manure for his garden in Austin.
• One of Ed’s favorite devotions for camp
was titled, “Sampling Mud Puddles?” It went
A God-fearing young man was being
ridiculed by his worldly-wise companions
because he refused to go along with them to a
place of unsavory reputation.
“How do you know it’s bad?” they asked.
“You’ve never been there!”
The young man gave this pointed reply: “I
don’t have to fall into a mud puddle to find out
that it is dirty.”
There are some things in life of which we are
better off without first-hand knowledge. Over
against the sophistication of our age, which
urges us to sample sin to see if it really IS sinful,
the Bible advises: “Be wise concerning that
which is good. Be simple concerning that which
Have you ever asked yourself how you
stand on this score? Have you been sampling
mud puddles? Let’s not deceive ourselves—
there is much on our record! And there is only
one cleansing power that can remove the soil of
sin from our soul. The Bible tells us: “The blood
of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from
Rev. Frank and his family served at Camp
Lone Star during the summers of 1956 and
1957. As he was preparing for the 1958 camp
season, Rev. Frank suffered a fatal heart attack,
while home with his family in Austin. The
Camp Manager, Campus Pastor, University
Professor, husband and father was called to
Glory on April 19, 1958.
36 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
M R . JOHN - REV. JOHN J. SOCHA
With the death of Rev. Frank, and the 1958 camp season fast approaching, the Walther League
Executive Board had to scramble to find a new Resident Camp Manager. The Board again turned to
an experienced Walther League activist, John J. Socha, who had served the Lone Star District as
editor of the Lone Star Leaguer and as secretary of the Executive Board. He had also helped lead
programs at Camp Lone Star.
John Socha, better known as Mr. John by campers and Walther Leaguers, was a man of many
talents: an educator, a coach, a musician, a prolific writer, a theologian, an organizer, a humorist, a
natural leader and, above all, a skilled promoter of any cause he was involved with. If you ever met
John Socha, you never forgot him.
Socha was born in New Jersey, one of 11 children of Slovakian immigrant parents. He finished
high school at Concordia High School in River Forest, Illinois, and college at Concordia Teachers
College in River Forest. He was a teacher in Lutheran schools for 24 years, serving at schools from
Forest Park, Illinois, to St. Paul, Austin, Texas, to Immanuel, Giddings, Texas, where he was serving
as principal, teacher, organist and choir director, when the call came from the Walther League
John J. Socha was an avid
horseman. But that was only one of
his many talents.
Chapter 3 ✦ 37
Above: Elsie Socha (left) working
with long-time kitchen staffer,
Johanna Pietsch, preparing a
hearty camp meal.
Below: Shown is a copy of the General
Warranty Deed that provided
“recreational rights” to a miniscule
parcel of Camp Lone Star property.
The fund-raising program apparently
was not overwhelmingly successful,
and was quickly discontinued.
Fortunately for Socha, Camp Lone Star was
near his new home in Giddings, and he had
ongoing support of Rev. Frank’s camp staff, like
Ted Schroeder, a teacher at Zion, La Grange. Like
his predecessors, Socha was an educator and had
the summer free to work at camp. In addition,
camp programs were established and the camp
was at a place where no new buildings needed
building and no infrastructure was close to failing.
Socha had another resource, a large family.
His wife, Elsie, and his six children all became
important fixtures at Camp Lone Star for the
next 10 years. Elsie was in charge of the kitchen,
where she supervised the cooks and did menu
planning and ordering of food and supplies.
Elsie also helped as the camp nurse and as a
counselor. Daughters Janet and Dottie were
counselors at Children’s Camp. Suzanne,
Margot, Jonathan and Robert were youngsters
when Socha became Resident Camp Manager,
but they helped where they could and,
ultimately, grew into regular camp staffers.
Besides hiring a new Resident Camp Manager,
the District Executive Board had another
challenge, paying off the debt on the swimming
pool. The board came up with a creative fundraising
plan to address the need. They printed
official-looking “General Warranty Deeds” which
conveyed “recreational rights” to a tiny parcel of
Camp Lone Star, usually a few square inches.
These parcels of camp were sold, generally, for
twenty-five to fifty cents per square inch. The
front of the deed included an imprinted number
and the text: “General Warranty Deed-Including
Recreational Rights Only-From Lone Star District
to (recipient). Proclaiming above recipient a titled
property owner in Camp Lone Star.”
The deeds were dated and signed by Edgar
Roitsch, Camp Board Director; Ray Gerhardt,
Lone Star District President; Jimmie Fuchs,
South Texas Vice President; and Buddy Hingst,
North Texas Vice President.
No record remains of how many deeds were
actually issued and how much money was
raised. But a record does exist of one zone, the
38 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Bluebonnet Zone, which “protested” against the
“money making affair”. A resolution passed at
the Bluebonnet Zone Rally in 1958, and
forwarded to the District Executive Board,
revealed the ire of the Central Texas Leaguers:
Be it resolved:
Whereas, the Camp Committee within the
District is planning to eliminate the camp deficit
through the selling of deeds to miniature plots
within Camp Lone Star, and
Whereas, this method is a money making
affair, substituting buying and selling for
Christian giving, and
Whereas, nowhere in the Bible does the Lord,
the head of the Church, say that we are to raise
money above and beyond what His people are
willing to give him directly through their
offerings, therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the Bluebonnet Zone go on
record as protesting against the use of this
method in eliminating the Camp Lone Star debt
and be it further
RESOLVED: That we continue to support the
camp through contributions.”
The Executive Board decided to go ahead with
a mail campaign to sell deeds, but to exclude the
Bluebonnet Zone. Most likely, the plan failed to
generate the income hoped for, as the swimming
pool debt was not cleared until 1964.
Initially, under John Socha, the structure of
summer camp followed the pattern set under
Ted Lammert and Rev. Edmund Frank. Peggy
Schneider (now Peggy Berry), was a leader upon
whom Socha depended. She served on the camp
staff from 1960 to 1965, as athletic director,
counselor, head of children’s camp and even
kitchen helper. She was left in charge of camp
during 1965 by Socha, while he was in St. Louis
finishing his degree work at Concordia Seminary.
Peggy describes Socha as “energetic” and “a
creative thinker”. He initiated a number of
contests, shows and awards for campers, she said.
the Beatles were popular at the time. The
counselors would pretend to be the Beatles with
our broomstick guitars and lip synching to our
favorite Beatles’ songs.
But John Socha had a personal pursuit which
he brought along to camp, changing the scope
of the camp’s leisure activities for the next two
decades. Socha, although born in New Jersey,
and reared in a suburb of Chicago, was a
devoted horseman. The entire family loved to
ride their horses on the Socha acreage near
Giddings. Socha looked at the 125 acres of
Camp Lone Star as an untapped resource for
riding and for teaching city children about the
joys of equestrianism. There was no budget to
Above: Resident Camp Manager John
Socha attaching a Camp Lone Star
bumper sticker to his Pontiac.
Below: The study of God’s Word has
always been a part of Camp Lone
Star. Here young men are engaged in
study outdoors with counselor Ace
One I recall was a competition for the best
Bible Reader. It meant a camper, with the help of
his or her counselor, would choose a portion of
the Bible to read aloud. It was usually one of the
Psalms,” Peggy said. “He also hosted a Talent
Show for the campers and staff each week. Since
Chapter 3 ✦ 39
Top: Resident Camp Manager John
Socha and his two sons, Robert
(left) and Jonathan (right) enjoying
their favorite pastime, riding the
Middle and bottom: Typical scenes at
Camp Lone Star in the 1960s as
campers learned the finer art of
horsemanship. Note the equestrian
party includes a rider on Cactus, the
Opposite, top: Professor E.F. (Pete)
Gummelt began leading nature hikes
on a nature trail he built in the late
1950s. His guided nature hikes
continued into the 1960’s, when
the nature trail doubled as a horse
Opposite, middle: Campers were
invited to pile on the pickup and
trailer for a “hayride” around camp.
Opposite, bottom: Campers were
organized into “tribes” from the
earliest days of camp, most often
bearing the names of native American
tribes. These campers took the Indian
connection to heart with authentic
40 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
purchase horses for Camp Lone Star, so, in
1959, Socha brought his horses to camp.
There was Socha’s favorite steed, Maggie.
Jonathan’s horse was Shorty Boy and Robert’s
was Prince. Other Socha horses which found a
new home at Camp Lone Star were Wonder Boy,
Dynamite and Midnight, the latter two being
Eventually other horses were donated to
Camp Lone Star until at least 14 horses were
available for horseback riding. Jonathan was the
main wrangler for the horse program, working
under the supervision of August Hempel, the
camp’s maintenance director.
According to Jonathan, “Campers loved
riding horses. Just about every camper
participated. They stood in line to ride. For
younger kids, we would lead the horse, but
older kids could ride on their own. “
In the late 1950s a Concordia College
professor, E.F. (Pete) Gummelt, constructed a
nature trail through the camp property.
Although it still functioned as a nature trail,
with identification signs for various plants and
trees, the trail also became a horse riding trail.
Jonathan said the campers “would either ride
on the horse trail, or they sometimes got to ride
down to the river and back.”
The horse stables and riding pen, along with
a pump house and wash room were the only
structures built at Camp Lone Star during John
Children’s Camp, according to Peggy,
spanned much the same schedule as today. A
camp session started on Sunday afternoon and
ended at noon on Friday.
“There were two boys’ dorms and two girls’
dorms,” she recalled. “On Sunday evening we
would divide the children into their groups or
tribes. The tribes would not always have Indian
names. I remember one of my groups being
called the ‘Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikinis’.
We would pick names for our tribes and make
up a group song. Counselors were in charge of
their group for the entire week, whether eating,
swimming, singing, hiking, whatever.”
Singing, she said, was mostly done acapella,
“I don’t recall having guitars, but Mr. John, and
others, played the piano at times.”
Peggy said that most of the indoor activities
took place in the Rec Hall (now called
Celebration House). Close by was the Trading
Post and Camp Office. Here campers could
purchase drinks, candy and souvenirs.
Chapter 3 ✦ 41
Above: Campers file past the Gum
Tree en route to a meal in the LWML
Right: A new cement pavilion was
added to the Recreation Hall in
the mid-’60s, complete with a
Peggy recalls, “Every evening we would have
devotions with the campers, usually at Devotion
Hill overlooking the lake. One of the counselors
or Mr. John, would lead the devotions. At the
close of the devotions, the counselors would
sing ‘Day is Done.’ We usually stood in the
woods behind the campers so they couldn’t see
who was singing.”
DAY IS DONE
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
Peggy’s recollections continue: “All the
campers would eat in the Dining Hall (officially
the LWML Dining Hall). Outside the Dining Hall
was a leaning oak tree. This tree became known
as the “Gum Tree” because the campers had to
stick their gum on the tree before entering the
Dining Hall. After praying all together, the
campers would be served family style. Of course,
it would be plenty noisy with songs about
keeping elbows off the table being very popular.”
(Somehow the old Gum Tree survived the
hundreds of pounds of chicle applied to it over
the years. It still stands near the entrance to the
current Trading Post in the old Dining Hall
building. I’m sure the popularity of the Australian
Kookaburra song with campers, had a lot to do
with Camp Lone Star having a Gum Tree. RL)
Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree,
Merry, merry king of the bush is he,
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh,
Kookaburra, gay your life must be.
(sung as a round)
42 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Top: Senior Counselor Peggy
Schneider with some of her campers.
Middle: The Kramer Staff Cabin
was home to maintenance staff for
Bottom: The office and concessions
building had a handy rail,
very convenient for hanging out in
Chapter 3 ✦ 43
Peggy also recalls a snakebite story, (which
will be the only snakebite story contained in this
camp history), “One Sunday afternoon, when a
new batch of campers arrived, one of the boys’
counselors, Ace Stevens, was trying to show his
boys how to catch a snake, a copperhead
crawling near the edge of the dorm.
Unfortunately, the snake had a different idea
and bit Ace on his thumb.”
Time off for camp staff was as rare in the
1960s as it is today. According to Peggy,
Fridays were hectic because as soon as the
campers left, everyone would pitch in and help
get the dorms ready for church groups or
families who would come for the weekend. The
counselors would also become the kitchen help.
We stayed in a couple of rooms off the kitchen,
complete with bunk beds, one for boys and one
for girls. In between was a group bathroom and
showers. You had to be very careful that you
locked both doors before using those facilities.
On weekends between serving tables at
camp, we would head to La Grange and do our
laundry. If we had time, we would eat out at the
Bon Ton Restaurant, famous for its homemade
bread. Sometimes we would catch a movie at the
When campers weren’t there, some of the
staff went fishing. We would set out a trot line in
the lake, catch a few catfish and have a fish fry
near the picnic table behind the dam. Sometimes
we would hike down to the Colorado River and
camp out on one of its islands. We would play
around in the shallow water, skip rocks and
swim in the deeper parts.
Peggy got to spend a lot of time with the
camp lifeguard, Gayle Berry, who would become
an important part of her life. Peggy recalls:
“Gayle and I were also responsible for picking up
the cooks, Frieda Kleiber and Johanna Pietsch, at
5:30 a.m. every morning in La Grange, and then
taking them back home in the afternoon. We had
to use the camp’s old green panel truck for this.
It was scary to cross the ancient rickety wooden
bridge over the Colorado River. Besides the
narrow lanes, the truck’s steering had so much
play in it that it was hard to keep that old truck
on the road. Once Gayle had to drive the panel
truck to McDade to pick up a load of
watermelons. He was lucky to make it back to
camp with that heavy load.”
Peggy and Gayle became another couple in a
very long line of Camp Lone Star marriages. She
recalls, “One weekend when I had gone home to
visit my parents and Gayle was at camp by
himself, he walked the 18 miles to my house for a
surprise visit. At the end of the summer of 1965,
on August 7, Gayle and I were married. It is a
marriage that has lasted more than fifty years.”
During the Socha era, the tradition of a hike
to Monument Hill on Wednesday afternoon
continued. The cold watermelons were still
delivered to the Monument Hill picnic area for
the hot and tired campers. But, according to
daughter Suzanne, John Socha added a new
component. Since the hiking trail passed close to
Camp Staff and the Socha family
show off their catch from trot lines set
in the camp lake.
44 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
La Grange’s KVLG radio station, Socha arranged
for a 30 minute radio program each time
campers made the trek. The group would stop at
the station where songs would be sung and camp
stories would be told, live over the radio
airwaves. A brief inspirational Gospel message
would also be given. The MC for the program, of
course, was none other than Mr. John.
JUST PLANT A WATERMELON VINE
Just plant a watermelon vine upon my grave,
And let the juice SHHHH SHHHH run through.
Just plant a watermelon vine upon my grave,
That’s all I ask of you.
Put me under a melon patch,
Just any old place will do.
So plant a watermelon vine upon my grave,
And let the juice SHHHH SHHHH run through.
Suzanne also recalls some other significant
aspects of camp life, “We had a rifle range down
below the dam of the lake. I think they shot .22’s
at targets. Later archery was incorporated into
the rifle range. And crafts were really popular.
We made so many lanyards, I could make them
in my sleep. We raised the flag every morning,
and at the end of the day we built a fire on
Devotion Hill for the evening devotion.”
One of Jonathan’s vivid memories was, in
September 1961, when Camp Lone Star was
used to house refugees from Hurricane Carla.
Dozens of hurricane victims, from the Houston
and Galveston area, escaping the vicious storm,
made camp their home for a week or more.
“We really didn’t have a plan,” Jonathan said.
“My dad just opened up the camp to people
who needed help.”
“After they left there was trash and diapers all
over the floors. We got to clean it all up, of
course,” he reported.
The mid-1960s was a tumultuous time for
the International Walther League. Issues that
divided the nation and the LCMS also served to
divide the Walther League. The Walther League
tried to slow its decline by becoming more
“relevant”. The League tried to focus on issues of
the day, like world hunger. But this served only
to anger some members of the LCMS, who
thought the Walther League was placing the
social gospel ahead of the saving Gospel of Jesus
Christ. The decline affected the Lone Star
District, as well. By 1967 the Lone Star District
was barely in existence. Operation of Camp
Lone Star was transferred from the Lone Star
District Executive Board to a self-perpetuating
Camp Lone Star Board of Directors.
One bright piece of camp news for 1967
appeared in the May issue of The Lone Star
Leaguer. In an article title “Hot Water at Lone
Star? Go Ahead; Believe It!” upgrades to Camp
Lone Star were announced:
Finally, campers and staff members can take
hot showers. And the showers are all tiled. One
Left: The kitchen staff, led by Elsie
Socha, sets up for the weekly picnic at
Right: The hike to Monument Hill was
not long by hiking standards. But
making the trek without shoes added
to the challenge.
Chapter 3 ✦ 45
Top: The rifle range was enjoyed by
both boys and girls. Here female
markspersons engage with their
Middle: Under John Socha, Camp
Lone Star built a new archery range.
Bottom: The photo of Senior
Counselor Peggy Schneider
impersonating Elvis Presley (right) is
the first photo that can be found of a
guitar at Camp Lone Star. A second
photo from the same period shows,
not only a guitar, but an accordion
girls’ dorm and one boys’ dorm have panel ray
heaters for keeping warm when it is cold outside.
The dining hall has a new roof and fluorescent
lights and has been sealed out so that it, too, can
be heated. Now that there is heat, it is hoped that
Zones and Leagues will make use of the camp for
spring and fall retreats.
During this same time, John Socha had
begun to study at Concordia Seminary in St.
Louis, under the Colloquy program. Graduation
from this “distance learning” program, gave
Socha an advanced degree and ordination as a
pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod. Upon his graduation, in 1966, Rev.
John Socha received and accepted a call to
serve Grace Lutheran Church in Freeport,
Texas, and St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in
Sweeney. Socha tendered his resignation as
46 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Resident Camp Manager to the Camp Lone
Star Board of Directors in 1967, but he
continued to be a fixture at summer camp for
the next few years.
In 1971 Socha became the pastor of Zion
Lutheran Church, Fort Worth, and in 1980, he
accepted a call to Trinity Lutheran Church,
Dime Box. While a pastor at Dime Box, Pastor
Socha served as the manager of the Giddings
Chamber of Commerce, and he was involved in
everything from the Texas Wendish Heritage
Society to the Lee County Sheriff’s Posse.
In the late 1980’s Pastor Socha began a battle
with cancer. He died on December 19, 1988. At
the time of his death Pastor Socha wrote a
weekly column for the Giddings Times & News.
His “Horsin’ Around” column of December 1,
1988 included this thought: “Many times in the
past when I conducted funeral services at
Christmas times, people could be heard saying,
‘How sad that it had to be right at Christmas!’
Since I know my days are numbered I have a
strong feeling of the joy that would come to one
taken to heaven at Christmas time.” That’s the
kind of man John J. Socha was.
Socha’s resignation as the manager of Camp
Lone Star, in 1967, opened the most turbulent
of times for the camp. Under the constitution of
the Walther League’s Lone Star District, in the
event the Lone Star District ceased operations,
all assets were to be transferred to the LCMS
Texas District. There is no record of any funds,
held by the Walther League Lone Star District,
being transferred to the Texas District. And the
actual camp property, the major asset of the
Lone Star District, was not deeded to the Texas
District until 1973.
The years 1968, 1969 and 1970 were a time
when Camp Lone Star could have easily ceased
to exist, had it not been for camp supporters,
led by four men who formed an ad hoc
committee, which kept the Camp Lone Star
The four men who stepped forward to keep the
camp functioning were Rev. Gene Gruell, Rev. Ray
Schkade, Keith Loomans and Dick Rathgeber.
During these years, Gene Gruell served as
the Executive Director of the LCMS Texas
District’s Board for Mission Administration. Ray
Schkade was Executive Director of Parish
Services for the District, and Keith Loomans was
the director of the Board of Parish Education
for the District. These three men worked under
the leadership of District President Rev. Carl
Heckman, another Camp Lone Star supporter.
Dick Rathgeber is a prominent Austin
businessman. While the District Staff members
on the ad hoc committee kept camp programs
moving forward during the tenuous period,
Rathgeber is credited with keeping the camp
Given the obvious connection to the Texas
District, one wonders why camp was not
embraced by the District. Why did the Texas
District not immediately accept title to the
Walther League’s prized asset of 125 acres
complete with a fully functional camp?
The answer lies in the complex world of
church politics. Those who were around the
Texas District at the time, recall that President
Heckman and his associates, Gene Gruell, Ray
Schkade and Keith Loomans, were fully on
board with the idea of the Texas District running
the camp. But there were parish pastors in the
Texas District who did not see the value of a
church camp. The issue of the Texas District
accepting the title to the camp property came up
at the District Convention in 1968. One of the
memorable comments reportedly made by a
pastor during the debate was, “Camps don’t do
anything but take people out of the pews on
Sunday.” Whatever else may have been said in
favor of, or against, Camp Lone Star, the 1968
Convention failed to embrace action authorizing
the District to take over the camp.
The ad hoc committee, and other camp
supporters, continued to operate summer camp
at Camp Lone Star during 1968, initially
without any official authorization or sanction.
Later a Camp Lone Star Board of Directors was
established under the Youth Ministry
Committee of the Texas District.
Fortunately, the ad hoc committee and
ultimately the newly-created Camp Lone Star
Board of Directors had a qualified person to run
Children’s Camp during the summer. Betty
Bartsch, a parochial school teacher in Houston,
began leading Children’s Camp in 1964, under
John Socha’s direction. Betty and her husband,
Eddie Bartsch, became the on-site managers of
summer camp during 1968, 1969 and 1970.
Betty had experience with camping, prior to her
Chapter 3 ✦ 47
approved a resolution declaring “outdoors
ministry” to be a legitimate mission outreach, to
be supported by the District, under its Board of
The resolution was titled “To Support A
District Camping Ministry”. It read:
This camp sign stood near the
entrance to Camp Lone Star in the
mid 1960’s. Note the sandstone
Walther League logo that is now
housed in the Retreat Center.
work at Camp Lone Star, and she participated in
activities of the American Camping Association.
Eddie was employed as an engineer in Houston,
but took summers off to work at camp.
An article in the Texas Messenger in the spring
of 1968 announced the camp sessions planned
for that summer:
Mrs. Betty Bartsch of Houston has been
selected by the Board of Directors of Camp Lone
Star, La Grange, to again direct the summer
children’s camping program.
The program begins on June 9 and will
continue through Aug. 3. It includes Bible study,
worship, hiking, riflery, nature study, outdoor
cooking, handicraft, horseback riding,
swimming lessons and canoeing. Qualified Red
Cross instructors will be employed for
swimming and canoeing.
Cost for a week’s camp is $35.
Thanks to the advocacy of the District staff,
including Gruell, Schkade and Loomans,
delegates to the 1970 District Convention
heard a very positive report about activities
during the 1969 camping season. At the next
biennial convention, in 1972, delegates
WHEREAS, Christian camping has been
carried on in our District for many years under
the sponsorship of varied organizations and local
groups of congregations, and
WHEREAS, In the past the District has served
as a coordinator of these efforts through the
Board of Parish Education and the Board of
Parish Services, and
WHEREAS, It has become evident that the
District should assume more responsibility for a
vital camping program as a ministry, and
WHEREAS, As upon studies of a special “adhoc
Committee” and the Board of Parish Services
and Board of Mission Administration, the Board
of Directors has established a “camping
Ministry” under the Board of Mission
Administration which became effective January
15, 1972, and
WHEREAS, The board of Mission
Administration will seek budgetary funding to
cover basic needs but may still require additional
funding if the outreach is to be effective,
therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Texas District authorize
the Board of Directors to urge interested
congregations to augment available funds
through special offerings as needed in support of
the total Camping Ministry of our District, each
congregation to determine how these funds will
This resolution appears to represent a
dramatic shift, since 1968, in the attitude of
Texas LCMS church leaders toward camp
ministry. But even more significant, this
resolution laid the groundwork for the
continued operation of Camp Lone Star under a
legitimate administrative board. It also provided
for the transformation of Camp Lone Star into a
full-time, year-round camp and retreat facility,
serving not only Lutherans, but other Christian,
civic and business groups—and all this under
the leadership of a visionary Camp Director,
who served for the next 35 years.
48 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
C AMP L ONE S TAR C OMES OF A GE - GARLAND M IDGETT
In the spring of 1971 Garland Midgett was a young teacher at Redeemer Lutheran School in
Austin. He and his wife, Stell, were parents of a two-year-old daughter. Stell was pregnant with their
son, born in October.
To get the teaching position, Garland had taken over the teaching contract of a female teacher. At
that time, most female teachers were offered nine and a half month contracts, instead of the twelvemonth
contract offered to men. By taking over a nine and a half month teaching contract, it meant
the family had less income for the year, a challenge for the young couple.
To help Garland and Stell make ends meet, the school principal, Norm Stuemke, and the Director of
the Texas District’s Parish Board of Education, Keith Loomans, approached Garland with a proposition.
“We met one day and they asked me if I would mind going out of town for the summer, for some
additional pay,” Garland said. “Keith Loomans said, ‘Let’s drive down to La Grange. We have a camp
there. If you are interested, you could be the summer camp director’.”
“So we drove over to Camp Lone Star and he showed us around. It was a beautiful place. But I
knew nothing about running a camp. And there was no owner’s manual go to with it, and no one to
teach me how to be a camp director. But it looked like fun and so I took the job.”
Garland said that although his fee was paid through the District’s Board of Mission Administration,
it was clear that he would have to help raise funds to operate through the summer of 1971.
Despite a lack of specific knowledge about running a summer camp, Garland had a set of life skills
that more than made up for his deficit. Garland describes himself as an “Army brat,” growing up the
son of a serviceman, who traveled more than most.
“I lived in 47 different states, growing up,” Garland said. “In doing that, I had to deal with a lot of
different and diverse situations. It required learning a lot of different skills. I think that prepared me
more than anything to be a camp director. I’ve seen a lot of young men and women who grew up in
very stable environments, stable communities, who found it difficult to adjust to situations that change
rapidly and unexpectedly. But that’s the nature of camp. You never know for sure what the day will
bring and what challenges you will face.”
The trail ride camp took campers
throughout a large part of Fayette
County on horseback.
Chapter 4 ✦ 49
Garland and Stell Midgett.
Garland also attributes his bent for statistics as
an asset for being a camp director. “I don’t think
anybody in previous years had ever counted
‘camper days,’ Garland noted. “That’s one person
at camp for one day. I kept records about
everything and that analysis helped with planning
for camp needs when we really started to grow.”
Garland was born in Uvalde, but did not stay
in Texas long, due to his father’s need to travel.
He was educated in a number of elementary and
secondary schools. And he completed a degree
in education at the University of Texas at Austin.
When the Midgett family moved to Camp
Lone Star prior to the start of 1971 summer camp,
their first surprise and challenge was living in the
camp director’s residence.
“Evidently the building, which is now the
nurses station, had been under renovation for
the Bartsch family,” recalls Garland. “Only they
never finished it. There were very few wall plug
covers and, in some cases, no plugs. You had to
connect your light or radio to a bare wire to get
electricity. And there were other things that we
had to fix quickly.”
Stell’s recollection of the director’s residence
was, “At least it had an attic exhaust fan. You
could sort of stay comfortable if you stayed under
Garland and Stell took close stock of the
buildings on the Camp Lone Star campus. Most of
the buildings in use were from the Lammert era,
and many were in marginal to poor condition.
Structures existing in 1971, according to the
• Two boys dorms,
• Two girls dorms,
• Celebration House (the Rec Hall),
• LWML Dining Hall,
• Ding Dong Dorm (the staff dorm),
• Handicraft Shelter,
• Garage/Maintenance building,
• Kramer Cabin,
• Camp Director’s Residence,
• Pool House,
• Well House,
• Mule Barn,
• Hay Barn,
• Archery range,
• Rifle Range,
• Canoe Shed.
Within a few years many of these would be
torn down and replaced.
Garland inherited some previous summer staff
members and recruited a few new ones, primarily
from Concordia College in Austin. And there
were some other veteran camp workers. August
Hempel continued his role as maintenance man,
while Johanna Pietsch was in charge of the
cafeteria. “But we had a full camp program in
1971, Garland added.”
A part of Garland’s first camp program, of
course, was the horse program. “We had all these
horses and saddles and so I thought, ‘What do
you do with horses?’ The answer, obviously, was
a trail ride.”
Garland tells the story of his trail ride camp:
We advertised a two-week-long trail ride
camp in the spring, with a limit on participants.
All of them had to be at least 15 years old. And
I scheduled it for August, at the end of camp.
50 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
SONGS FROM THE 1970S
WE WILL REJOICE
We will rejoice in you and be glad
We will extoll your love more than wind
Draw me after you and let us run together
We will rejoice in you and be glad
SOME TRUST IN CHARIOTS
Some trust in chariots and
Some in Horses, but
We will remember the name
Of the Lord our God
Some trust in chariots and
Some in Horses, but
We will remember the name
Of the Lord our God
Now know I that the Lord
Saveth His annointed
He will hear him from His
With the saving strength of
His right hand
They are brought down and fallen
But we are risen and stand upright
KUM BA YA
Kum ba ya, my Lord, Kum ba ya.
Kum ba ya, my Lord, Kum ba ya.
Kum ba yya, my Lord Kum ba ya,
Oh, Lord, Kum ba ya.
During the early part of the summer I spent a
lot of time going around the Fayette County area
talking to farmers about camping out overnight
on their property. Most agreed, but when one did
not, you had to change the route and that meant
contacting even more farmers. But finally we had
the route set out, starting and ending at camp and
going a long distance through Fayette County.
The trail ride campers checked in on a Sunday
and we had them immediately set out for their
first stop. When they got there, they set up camp
in a dry area that would be a wash if it rained.
And, of course, it did rain that night, for the first
time that summer. And it rained and it rained.
On Monday we knew there was a problem so
we picked up all the campers in a truck and
The old Rec Hall, now renamed
Celebration House, continued to be
the main meeting space at Camp
Lone Star until construction of the
Chapter 4 ✦ 51
The trail ride camp was a great
learning experience for the campers
and for the Camp Director. In the
end, all the campers and staff finished
brought them back to the base camp. We dried out
the campers and their gear and sent them back.
It must have really been a stretch to assume
that 15 year olds could build a fire or cook a meal.
The counselors later reported the first few days
were a real learning experience for everyone.
The third evening we drove out to see how
things were going with the trail riders.
When we got there it was obvious that things
were really tense. Several of the campers wanted
to talk. So we did. Some of the campers just wanted
to go back to camp and get a shower. Some
others wanted to just go back to camp and stay. I
explained to them that we didn’t have room for
them at camp because we were full that week.
They were not happy, of course, but they had to
complete the trip.
And they did complete the trip. And you
know what, they ended up loving it. They
learned to work together and they became so
close. I think some of those people are still
But it was the last trail ride we held as part of
our horse program.
52 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
After a successful summer session in 1971,
Garland continued to assist in arranging retreats
and meeting for various groups.
“I would take the reservations,” said Garland.
“And then when it was time, I’d contact Mr.
Hempel and he would open the gates. Since his
pay was being able to run his cattle on the camp
property, there were times when he would have
to move them to another pasture when there
was a weekend meeting. He would arrange for
cabins and drive Mrs. Pietsch to camp so she
could prepare meals.”
The summer of 1972 was staffed entirely by
students from Concordia College in Austin.
Garland was the director, and did all the
registrations for camp, but he had to spend most
of the summer completing his degree at UT.
Between the 1972 and the 1973 summer
camp session, a lot of changes were made to the
management of Camp Lone Star, and to its role
in the LCMS Texas District.
The resolution passed at the 1972 District
Convention had the effect of transferring the
responsibility for Camp Lone Star to the Texas
District Board for Mission Administration.
Under the guidance of the BMA Executive, Rev.
Gene Gruell, the Camp Lone Star Board of
Directors was replaced by the Texas Outdoors
Ministry Advisory Committee (TOMAC).
Then, on January 5, 1973, according to
records of the Fayette County Clerk, the Lone
Star District Walther League Camp Association
conveyed ownership of Camp Lone Star’s
125.58 acres to The Texas District of the
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. At the
time, since the Walther League Lone Star
District was no longer in existence, the deed
transfer was based on a resolution of the LCMS
Texas District Youth Committee of February 27,
1971. However, in 1979 the county clerk
required that the Texas District provide further
proof of their claim to the land. In response,
Keith Loomans, Associate Director of Parish
Services for the District, provided an affidavit in
a notarized deposition affirming the transfer of
But the biggest change during that eventful
year of 1973 was the hiring of Garland Midgett
as the first full-time Executive Director of
Outdoors Ministry for the Texas District.
Although operating Camp Lone Star was a
major part of Garland’s new job, the job
description extended to developing “outdoors
ministry” throughout the Texas District. The
new ministry, called Texas Outdoors Ministry
(TOM) began full time operation in June, with
its headquarters at Camp Lone Star.
“That first year, 1973, we spent a lot of time
cutting brush, clearing, and repairing buildings
so Camp could be more presentable,” recalls
Garland. “But I was also traveling a lot, making
calls on churches and schools. And I had other
responsibilities, like hiring summer staff and
planning summer camp programs. This all
increased over the next couple of years.”
“The District was very supportive, however,
and they allowed me to hire several part-time
staff to fill the needs.”
As summer camp of 1974 approached, a
report in The Texas Messenger supplement to The
Lutheran Witness outlined the activities at Camp
“One of the finest summer staffs ever
assembled at Lone Star!” commented Mr.
Garland Midgett, as he perched one booted
leg on the Trading Post’s rail and reflected on
the staff for the regular summer camping
program, as well as on the special staffs for
weekends, Kaleidoscope (LSV) Kamps, and
“There were 46 here for Work Camp and a
full 30 registered for Kaleidescope. We are
making money in this venture and not costing
the District a cent, except for a few of the
weekend camps during the winter,” continued
Garland. “I just wish the best for every camper
who comes here. They used to not come,
because the place was run down. Now, with the
improvements, new bunks, new mattresses, and
all the painting, people are finding Camp Lone
Star is a perfect place to camp. We will thrive as
people continue to support us. For instance, a
bridge was donated this year by Mrs. Gertrude
Johns of St. Andrew, Houston, and a trailer was
loaned to us by Mr. Glenn Wisemann, whose
wife is a member of St. John, Cypress, to move
the mattresses and bridge to Camp.”
The year 1974 also marked aggressive off-site
camping by TOM, including canoeing and
backpacking at off-site locations, thanks to a
grant from Lutheran Brotherhood. A part of the
off-site emphasis was an extension program at
Chapter 4 ✦ 53
The National Lutheran Outdoors
Ministry Association became a strong
force for Lutheran camping
nationwide, thanks to outdoors
ministry leaders like Garland Midgett.
Camp Lutherland, near San Antonio. This
extension program continued through 1977.
As Garland was learning and honing his
skills on how to run a camp, he began to reach
out to other Lutheran camp directors around
“One man who really helped me was Wayne
Jarvis, director of Camp Chrysalis in Kerrville,”
said Garland. “Even though Chrysalis was an
American Lutheran Camp, and part of a multicamp
organization, he was always ready to share
ideas and he invited me to any meeting he had,
including his board meeting. He let me sit in
and listen and learn.”
Garland also was in touch with camp
directors at other camps affiliated with the
LCMS. “At first we just got together informally,”
said Garland. “There were no memberships and
no dues. We’d just let everybody know where
we were meeting and they would show up.”
“Then we started calling ourselves Outdoors
Ministry-LCMS. But the Synod called up and
said we couldn’t use those initials in our name.
We had to come up with a new name and we
called it National Lutheran Outdoors Ministry
Association, NLOMA for short.”
A major issue for camp managers was
recruitment of college students to work as
summer counselors. Prior to the founding of
NLOMA, this was done individually by
each camp director. Generally, each director
would go to many of the Concordia universities
and also to nearby public universities.
There they would setup an information table
about the opportunity to be a counselor at a
Thanks to efforts by Garland and other camp
directors in NLOMA, “joint recruitment” was
born. Instead of each director having to travel
across the country to reach prospective counselors,
a plan was put in place for directors to cover only
the campuses that were near to them. Prospective
counselors could then apply to any of the nearly
40 LCMS camps with any camp director.
Other opportunities for sharing techniques
and information about camp management made
NLOMA a force in Lutheran camping that
continues today. Garland is credited as one of
the founders of the organization.
The increase in activity at Camp Lone Star
from 1973 to 1975 continued the manpower
strain, with the camp being staffed by more and
more part-time employees. It became obvious to
Garland, and others, that there was a better way
to allocate camp labor.
Garland approached the TOMAC board and
Rev. Gruell and assured them, “I can save you a
lot of money by replacing several part-time
people with one or two full-timers.“ This led to
a search for a “camp manager,” and the hiring of
Mike Schmidt for the position in March, 1976.
Mike was a former teacher from Giddings, who
became a Camp Lone Star fixture for years to
come. Mike, and by extension, his wife Marilyn,
were hired to manage the facilities at camp, and to
periodically host retreat groups. Garland calls the
hiring of the Schmidts “a Godsend.”
“I was called to develop outdoors ministry
in the Texas District. And I was called to make
Camp Lone Star sustainable. To do that I had to
travel a lot,” said Garland.
Garland reported that he was racking up over
100,000 miles a year setting up off-site
programs, making presentations at churches
and schools, hiring summer staff and soliciting
donations for the ministry. “I don’t know what I
would have done without Mike and Marilyn, “
To facilitate the arrival of the Schmidts,
Garland and Stell moved off the camp property to
a house in La Grange, leaving the Camp Director
Residence to Mike, Marilyn and children.
“Mike’s first day on the job was a real camp
learning experience ,” said Garland. “They pulled
up with a moving van and their three children.
“I told Mike, ‘Glad to see you. I’ve got to be
in Amarillo tonight. Good luck.’
54 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
“That night some of the campers knocked on
his door and said they had a problem,” said
Garland. “The problem they reported was a tree
“That happened because the ground was wet
from rain and the campers couldn’t get their
campfire lit. So, they decided to build the
campfire in a tree.
“Mike put out the fire and calmed everybody
down. Thank God he didn’t just pack up
The growing camp ministry was a mixed
blessing for members of the LCMS Texas District
Board of Directors. Although the camp was
being used by more and more Lutherans and
others, the board members were rightly
concerned about the liability such a facility
imposed on the District. Attorneys for the
District recommended that a separate
corporation should govern Camp Lone Star and
its programs. Thus, in 1977, was born Texas
Outdoors Ministry, Inc. Its board of directors
became the governing body for the camp. The
supportive bonds of the Texas District Board of
Mission Administration and the Texas Outdoors
Ministry Advisory Committee were cut as TOM,
and its board of directors, took over
management of Camp Lone Star. Two years later,
on November 27, 1979, the LCMS Texas
District filed an Affidavit of Resolution
conveying by Warranty Deed the 125.58 acres
comprising Camp Lone Star to Texas Outdoors
Camp Lone Star’s growth was marked, in
1977, by addition of another full-time staff
member, James Preece, who became the first
full-time Program Director. Preece, as did
subsequent Program Directors, worked with
creating programs for summer camp, including
the main summer theme and a Bible study based
on the summer theme. Preece also helped
provide programming for retreat groups and
other camp users.
The same year marked an interest in the
possibility of TOM having a camp in north
Texas. Garland began meeting with a committee
from north Texas to discuss how a camp could
be provided to serve that region.
The TOM Board seemed to be working
overtime during this period, laying plans and
dreams on the table to accommodate the future
of Outdoors Ministry in Texas. The Board
decided to move forward with the construction
of facilities to help replace some of the outdated
buildings that had been demolished and to
provide a new standard in facilities that would
facilitate year round use and better serve adults.
A major capital improvement program began in
1979 that forever changed the face of Camp
Lone Star and its ability to serve both youth and
adults. This construction effort would result in a
new waste water system, a new drinking water
system, a modern, air conditioned retreat center
and new youth cabins.
To finance these ambitious plans, Garland
approached a La Grange banker, Chester
Creuzbaur. His bank, La Grange State Bank, was
not big enough to underwrite all the needed
work, so Creuzbayr approached two other local
banks to join forces in this major improvement
project for La Grange.
The banks agreed and funded the project. At
the same time, Garland approached a family
foundation with Lutheran roots, the M.G. and
Lillie A. Johnson Foundation, of Victoria, Texas.
Mike and Marilyn Schmidt joined the
staff in 1976.
Chapter 4 ✦ 55
The Retreat Center was an ambitious
project for Camp Lone Star, but had
the strong support of the TOM Board.
A major grant from the Johnson Foundation
assured that the work could be completed
without relying on as much borrowed funding.
Funding was also forthcoming from the
ladies of the LWML. The 1978 convention
theme of “Living Waters” was a perfect
opportunity for Garland to approach the
convention for a grant to help fund the new
waste water system. To his delight, it passed.
The crown jewel of the construction project
was the Retreat Center. A designer, Richard
Scherk of Austin, was engaged to design the
building and to manage construction. Scherk did
this work as a contribution to Camp Lone Star.
The elaborate design included many elements,
such as solar panels, a huge wooden deck area
and a water hyacinth pond as part of the waste
water treatment facility. But Scherk’s plan was to
not hire a general contractor for the overall
project, but rather to contract each element of the
project separately, and to negotiate the best deal
for each part of the project.
This sounded like a reasonable approach at
the time, but a tight budget resulted in some
planned amenities not being included. One
cause of the financial squeeze was that the TOM
Board had agreed to accept a lease on a former
Boy Scout camp at Lake Texoma, as the site of
56 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Texoma Lutheran Camp. Funds were needed for
improvements at Texoma, as well.
When the Retreat Center opened in 1980,
the side of the building facing the lake had a
severe dropoff, as this is where the wooden deck
area was to be constructed, but had been
dropped from the project. This area was
eventually filled and a concrete slab poured.
The end result, however, was a functional
and attractive building, named the M.G. and
Lillie A. Johnson Retreat Center.
“In the final analysis, the building was a
compromise,” Garland said. “It was not
designed to be on par with a hotel resort facility,
but rather to be a utilitarian retreat center with
comfortable rooms, a good kitchen and meeting
space. It was a whole lot better than housing
retreat groups in cabins.
“And retreat business took off from the minute
it opened. We began to book up weekend retreat
groups from churches, schools, family reunions
and groups not affiliated with a church. But we
never enjoyed great success in keeping the
Retreat Center filled during week days.
“We also started pulling in a lot of Texas
District business, meetings, retreats and events.
We now had the facilities to serve needs for the
District that had gone to hotel meeting spaces
previously. Through the years we have had great
support from the District, and we still do today.
But in the years when the Retreat Center first
opened, it was really a blessing having people
like Keith Loomans on the District Staff, to
direct meeting and retreat business our way.
Above: A new water tower, as part of
an updated water system, was
included in the 1979 capital
Left: With the completion of the
Retreat Center, groups needing
retreat and meeting facilities found
a new reason to call Camp Lone
Chapter 4 ✦ 57
Above: The finished Retreat Center
was a stunning contrast to the rough
hewn buildings that had been in use
at Camp Lone Star since the 1940s.
Right: The new youth dining hall
provided efficient facilities for feeding
58 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
“From the start, no matter who was using the
Retreat Center, we wanted them to know they
were in a Christian environment. We decorated
the building with crosses and other Christian
artwork and banners, we always offered a table
prayer at mealtime and our staff was there to
talk to anyone about faith issues, if that is what
Although the Retreat Center received positive
praise from almost all users, Garland said he
was surprised at the reaction of one group.
“We had been doing a very successful directed
retreat for a number of years, called September
Camp. It was for Senior Citizens, in the
September of their lives. The first year we held it
in the Retreat Center, some of the ladies in the
group came to me and said, ‘Garland, you know
we’re not all that poor and we live in nice airconditioned
homes most of the time. But what we
really used to enjoy about September Camp was
having those slumber parties in the dorm.’ That
proved once again you can’t please everybody.”
With the opening of the Retreat Center, it
quickly became apparent that another staff
position was needed to help promote retreat
business and to staff retreat groups. Lou Jander
was hired in September 1980, to work in these
areas, with the title of “Associate Director” of
Camp Lone Star. Lou became Garland’s on-site
assistant, so that Garland could continue his
ambitious travel schedule to promote Texas
Outdoors Ministry. Lou served in this position
Another 1980 milestone was the retirement
of Mrs. Johanna Pietsch, who had worked in the
Camp Lone Star kitchen since the time Ted
Lammert was Camp Manager.
By 1982 the TOM Board of Directors began
to realize that Garland Midgett was, after all,
a mere mortal and could only be stretched
so far, especially with the added responsibility
of Texoma Lutheran Camp in north Texas.
The Board adopted a new structure for the
ministry: an Executive Director housed in the
LCMS Texas District office in Austin, Garland
serving at La Grange as full-time director of
Camp Lone Star and an on-site Texoma
Lutheran Camp director.
The board chose to hire an ordained minister
as its new Executive Director. Rev. Karl Petzke
was hired for the position. Rev. Petzke was an
old camp hand, having served many years at
Camp Omega in Minnesota. As a pastor, Petzke
had access to his fellow pastors throughout the
District, in a way that no lay person could
match. This helped Petzke’s efforts to increase
Above: New cabins, built in clusters,
provided campers with clean, airconditioned
sleeping quarters, and
modern bath facilities.
Left: The year 1980 marked the
retirement of long-time kitchen staffer,
Mrs. Johanna Pietsch.
Chapter 4 ✦ 59
summer campers and also weekend retreats for
church groups. Since TOM could not issue a call
to an LCMS pastor, Petzke’s call was issued
through the Texas District.
Rev. Petzke immediately helped sell the board
on two steps forward. First, he proposed
changing the name of Texas Outdoors Ministry
(TOM) to Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas
(LOMT). The name change was adopted. Second
was the hiring of a young rostered teacher, Keith
Lund, to serve as Camp Director of Texoma
Lutheran Camp. Keith’s formal call, like Rev.
Petzke’s, was through the Texas District.
The horse program had existed at Camp
Lone Star since John Socha brought his family
horses to the camp in 1959. By 1984, insurance
of the horse program, and other activities of
camp, was becoming a bigger and bigger part of
the camp budget. According to Garland, a lot of
camps had trouble getting liability insurance at
any price. Fortunately for Camp Lone Star, the
insurance carrier had, for years, allowed the
horse program to be included under the general
liability policy for the camp.
“We knew it was going to be a problem in
1984,” Garland said, “but I asked our agent to
do what he could.”
“Shortly after that, our agent came to me with
a big old grin on his face. ‘Garland,’ he said, ‘we
can still get you insurance for the horse
program, only it will be on a separate policy.’ I
asked him how much, knowing the previous
year the entire premium was $10,000. He
replied, ‘Only $8,000 extra.’ That was the
moment the horse program came to an end.”
“The horses,” Garland said, “were sold and a
few given away.”
“But when we lost the horse program, I
already knew what I was going to replace them
with. That was the Challenge Course.”
SONGS FROM THE 1980S
LORD OF THE DANCE
I danced in the morning when the
world was begun
And I danced in the moon and the stars and sun.
I came down from heaven and I danced
on the earth
At Bethlehem I had my birth
Dance then wherever you may be
I am the Lord of the dance said he
And I'll lead you all, wherever you may be
And I'll lead you all in a life that's free.
Father, grant that what we sing with our lips,
We may believe in our hearts.
And what we believe in our hearts,
We may show forth in our lives.
Through Lord Jesus Christ.
PASS IT ON
It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around can warm up
in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You spread the love to everyone
You want to pass it on
What a wondrous time is Spring
When all the trees are budding
The birds begin to sing; the flowers
start their blooming
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it
You want to sing; it’s fresh like Spring
You want to pass it on.
I wish for you my friend, this happiness
that I’ve found
You can depend on Him, it matters not
where you’re bound
I’ll shout it from the mountain top:
I want the world to know: JESUS LOVES YOU!
The Lord of Love has come to me
I want to pass it on.
60 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Garland first saw the activity now known as
a “challenge course” or “ropes course” at a
NLOMA conference in Carbondale, Illinois, a
few years earlier.
“They were working with juvenile
delinquents and handicapped kids,” Garland
said. “I saw these tough kids rappelling off a cliff
with a rope held by a handicapped youngster.
That really impressed me to see how you could
use challenge course to build trust between
these very different groups.”
“I’d always been interested in experiential
education, that is, learning by doing, which is
the basis for challenge course. We began to
study the subject in detail and found out several
things. One, challenge course had an
exceptionally high safety record, so insurance
premiums were low. Two, building a challenge
course was an affordable undertaking. We built
the first challenge course elements in 1985 and
it just grew from there, and was incredibly
popular with campers and retreat participants.”
Since 1985, the challenge course has grown
to include a total of nine high and nineteen low
elements. Some have been refurbished through
the years and there has never been a serious
accident. Trained camp staff facilitators are
always on site when the challenge course is used.
The first set of six base camp cabins was built
as part of the 1979 capital improvement
campaign. But the intention was always to build
a second set of six. This was completed in 1986.
One of Karl Petzke’s innovative additions to
the Camp Lone Star structure was the creation
of a Development Council. The group was
formed to help support the camp financially and
also through volunteer work. To head up the
Council, Petzke recruited a hard-working
businessman from Waco, Glenn Hurta. Glenn
and his wife, Janet, had found out about Camp
Lone Star only a few years before, when they
attended the 1982 annual barbecue. But both
saw the potential for camp to grow and prosper
through the Development Council.
“After I was selected by the LOMT Board to
be chairman of the Council,” said Hurta, “Karl
gave me a list of people who have been coming
to camp with their kids, coming to the barbecue
and to other events. On my own time and nickel
I started calling and asked them to join the
Top, left: Rev. Karl Petzke joined the
Camp Lone Star family in 1983 as
the Executive Director of TOM.
Top, right: After the Texas Outdoors
Ministry changed its name to
Lutheran Outdoors Ministry of Texas
(LOMT), board member Catherine
Burkhard was called upon to use
her calligraphy skills to prepare the
LOMT logo for production.
Below: Bucky was a tame pet deer
that was a part of Camp Lone Star
life for a several years in the early
1980s. Bucky was nursed back to
health by La Grange veterinarian,
James F. Tiemann. Bucky enjoyed
being around campers and always
wore a collar while a camp mascot.
He loved to be petted and had the run
of the camp property. But, as Bucky
grew into a mature buck, it became
more difficult for him to fill the role as
a friend to all. One hunting season
Bucky simply disappeared, never to be
Chapter 4 ✦ 61
The challenge course, started at
Camp Lone Star in 1985, has been
one of the most effective tools for
teaching team and leadership skills, as
well as building personal self
confidence and maturity. The Camp
Lone Star staff has devised ingenious
ways to communicate Christian
values and virtues through the
challenge course elements.
Development Council. And they joined, or at
least most of them did. Our first big project was
to raise $3,000 to make the old well usable to
keep the lake full.
“We also invited Development Council
members to work days at camp. This really got
me excited about camp and the fellowship with
62 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Council members. We did all kinds of projects,
like setting posts for a fence around the
maintenance building and helping set the bridge
at the dam.”
Glenn and Janet owned a recreational
vehicle, and so they suggested to Karl that
LOMT sponsor an RV camping ministry.
Glenn related, “We told him there had to be
hundreds of Lutherans in Texas who were
RVers. We could all meet up at a State Park and
have a great time. It took him a while to think
about it. Then one day he called me.
Karl said, ‘You remember when we were
talking about an RV camping ministry? Would
you head that up? I’ll do the advertising. You
pick a place and tell me what I need to do.’ I
said, ‘Let’s do it.’
“The first location we picked was Lady Bird
Johnson Park in Fredericksburg. We got there
about 2 p.m. and set up our RV. Karl was there
also. About 4 o’clock Karl came over with kind
of a long face and asked, ‘Do you think anybody
else is coming?’
“But by that evening, 22 rigs and 49 people
showed up and we had a weekend of activities.
“We kept trying new things,” Glenn said,
“and it kept growing. We had games, pot luck
meals, Bible study and worship on Sunday
morning. Occasionally people just staying in the
park would join us for worship. The biggest
group we had was at Fairfield, when we had
something like 80 or 90 people.”
The Hurtas kept leading the RV ministry into
Another offsite program that developed
under Karl Petzke was the offshore fishing trip.
The trip was the brainstorm of long-time LOMT
board member Mike Linebrink.
“I always thought a lot of people would like
to experience fishing offshore, if they just knew
how to go about it,” Mike related. “So we sold
the idea to Karl. The idea was we would go to
Port Aransas, stay at a condo and go out on a
party boat. And we would have a shrimp boil.
The first year, in 1985, Karl, my wife Pixie and
I went early to buy and boil the shrimp. It was
more work than I had dreamed. We spent most
of the night boiling shrimp. After that first year
we started buying the shrimp in Austin and
boiling them at our house. Then we’d pack
them up in ice for the trip.”
Eventually Mike recruited Warren and
Betty Ressell to help with the planning
and organization for the fishing trip. He also
invited Rev. Marty Doering along to lead
worship on Sunday morning. One year the trip
had nearly 150 participants. The trip was an
annual event for LOMT, and lasted 10 years,
Camp Lone Star had operated financially
since 1941 on a combination of use fees and
donations. Although the ratio of fees to gifts
changed through the years, by the late 1980’s,
with increased usage, staff and facilities, the
contributions from supporters of the camp were
more important than ever. Adding more
facilities, such as housing for staff, upgraded
waste water plant, additional cabins and needed
improvements at Texoma Lutheran Camp
required an even more aggressive outreach for
contributions. To accomplish this, in 1988 the
LOMT Board approved a contract with a
professional fund raising company to conduct a
new capital campaign, called Equipping for
Excellence. Unfortunately, the campaign fell far
short of its goal and netted only a modest
amount of income. But the idea of having a
professional development component, as part of
LOMT, had taken root.
In 1990 Rev. Karl Petzke resigned as
Executive Director of LOMT to take a similar
position at Camp Lutherhaven in Idaho. The
LOMT board used this opportunity to
restructure the operation of the organization. No
longer would LOMT have an Executive Director.
The LOMT RV camping ministry
brought dozens of new participants
into LOMT activities. This photo is
from the very first RV weekend, at
Lady Bird Johnson Park in
Chapter 4 ✦ 63
The Bokencamp Pastoral Retreat
featured a functional meeting and
retreat facility, in a charming setting
near Burton, TX.
Instead, the ministry would be governed day to
day by a management committee, comprised of
the Director of Camp Lone Star, the Director of
Texoma Lutheran Camp, the Board President
and the Development Council Chairman. By
freeing up funds that were previously paid to
Rev. Petzke, the Board sought out a professional
fund raiser. In 1991 John Hawkins joined the
staff of LOMT as Development Director.
Hawkins came on board just in time to feel
the effects of the U.S. recession of 1990 and
1991, which affected Texas more than other
areas. It has always been an observable fact that
the financial health of LOMT and Camp Lone
Star has closely mirrored the financial health of
the state and nation. That became painfully
clear at the end of the summer of 1991. The
LOMT Board, meeting at the Bokenkamp
Pastoral Retreat, found summer camp expenses
in excess of $50,000, with virtually no funds in
the bank. The Board made several immediate
decisions that day.
Glenn Hurta recalls one decision was that “if
a camp vehicle stops on the side of the road, you
don’t call anybody to fix it. You just try to get it
back to camp and let it sit there.”
Another was that summer counselors
were released early and the final week of camp
But those actions were hardly enough to
resolve the deficit. So, the board did what Camp
Lone Star people do. They prayed and prayed
(Author’s Note: It was truly amazing and
affirming to see Board members, who had not
anticipated the camp’s financial situation being so
serious, going to God for guidance through the
stormy situation…and doing this before any
other action or discussion. Public prayer
continued through the day, and by adjournment,
there were some potential solutions on the table.)
Eventually the cash flow issue was resolved
through a combination of short term loans,
targeted fund-raising by Hawkins and God’s
The Bokenkamp Pastoral Retreat, where the
crisis meeting was held, had become a part of
LOMT in 1989. It was a gift from Don and Pat
Bokenkamp, and was a part of a ranch they
owned near Burton, Texas, about 25 miles from
Camp Lone Star.
The Bokenkamps had a distinct vision for the
property and attached a requirement when it
was donated to LOMT that it be used only as a
retreat for Lutheran clergy and their families.
The facility included a house, a multi-purpose
meeting room with kitchen facilities, sleeping
facilities an outdoor chapel and a small lake.
In trying to honor the wishes of the
Bokenkamps, Daryl Obermiller, former Camp
Lone Star staffer, was assigned as a resident manager
for the property. A goal for the retreat was to
64 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
invite pastors and families to use the facility.
Despite the best efforts of LOMT, usage of the
facility in the way envisioned by Don and Pat
Bokenkamp, was not successful. In 1992the property
was given to Lutheran Social Services of the
South to continue to be used as a pastoral retreat.
Hawkins’ introduction to fund raising for
Camp Lone Star was truly a “baptism of fire” for
the veteran development professional, who had
previously worked in fund raising for a hospital
Hawkins recalled, “I’ll never forget Glenn
Hurta telling me, when I got the job, ‘You’re not
going to be under the stresses like you were at
the hospital.’ That was one time Glenn got it
wrong. It was kind of a surprise to all of us to
see how dire the situation really was. My
mission became ‘get operational cash.’”
During his first year as Development Director,
Hawkins also boosted contributions by re-tooling
the structure of the Development Council.
Hawkins said that before he came to work at
camp, in 1989, records show there were 56
members of the Development Council. Only 32
of those were making financial contributions to
LOMT, and many of the contributors were
giving less than $100 annually.
“So, in January, 1992, we changed the rules
for membership in the Development Council,”
Hawkins said. “After that a member had to give
at least $500 annually for three years. Not
everybody liked the change, because some
members just wanted to participate in work
days. But the result was that Development
Council giving went from $24,000 to $49,000.
“There was also some confusion about the
authority of the Development Council. At some
Development Council meetings, members passed
motions to spend camp funds. Of course, that
should have only been done by the LOMT Board.
So we came up with six rules for membership.”
The rules adopted were:
1. Pray regularly for the LOMT ministry.
2. Give a minimum of $500 annually.
3. Commit to at least three years of service.
4. Be an advocate for LOMT in your local
5. As opportunities arise, help raise money for
the ministry through events like the
Phonathon, the auction and by inviting
friends to Barbecue Weekend.
6. Attend Development Council meetings,
Development Council meetings were
changed from quarterly to twice a year and
eventually once a year on Barbecue Weekend.
The content of the meeting was changed to be
primarily informational. A great tradition was
Development Council members
provided labor for numerous camp
improvement projects, including the
setting of the bridge over the lake
Chapter 4 ✦ 65
A scene from the first Development
Council Banquet, in 1991. Former
Texas House Speaker Gus F.
Mutscher (second from right) was
instituted, thanks to Hawkins, as counselors
were invited to tell the story of their summer
experience. These often-dramatic testimonies
helped Development Council members, and
potential members, understand the true impact
of the Camp ministry.
Hawkins also played a role in the start of the
Development Council banquet. The first
banquet was held in July 1991 in the Retreat
Center. The speaker for the first banquet was
former Speaker of the Texas House of
Representatives, and Washington County Judge,
Gus F. Mutscher. A member of Grace Lutheran
Church in Brenham, Mutscher held the highest
political office, as House Speaker, ever occupied
by a member of the LCMS.
Through the years the Development Council
banquet grew in size and appeal. It was moved
from the Retreat Center to the Knights of
Columbus Hall in La Grange. Hawkins helped
focus the banquet to be a recognition and thank
you banquet for Development Council members.
Eventually summer staff members were invited
to attend, as well as the Development Council.
A number of prominent individuals accepted
the invitation to be the keynote speaker for the
event. Some of those best known include: Dr.
Joe Frost, former LOMT board chair and UT
professor; Dr. Oswald Hoffman, former
Lutheran Hour speaker; Dan Brandenstein,
astronaut and member of Gloria Dei Lutheran
Church in Houston; Roger Heminghaus, CEO of
Valero Corporation; Jean Garton, founder of
Lutherans for Life; Rev. Ron Burk, Lutheran
humorist; and Rev. Ken Hennings, president of
the LCMS Texas District.
Hawkins was also involved with approaching
the Johnson Foundation for funding for the
Koop Center, which was named for a former
chairman of the foundation, and also funding for
the Selah House. The Koop Center was
dedicated in 1992 and the Selah House in 1999.
Both added important meeting space to the
camp property. John Hawkins does give credit to
Rev. Leo Symmank, a personal friend of
foundation members, for generating foundation
interest in Camp Lone Star.
Perhaps Hawkins is best remembered
by camp supporters for the LOMT Phonathons,
which were held through much of the 1990s.
Phonathons were done in numerous cities
around Texas, with volunteers recruited and
organized by Hawkins. Volunteers made calls to
parents of campers and former donors,
requesting pledges for the fund-raising event.
“We needed operating cash quickly,” said
Hawkins, “and this was the quickest way I knew.
We started out the first year with Phonathons in
Austin, San Antonio and Dallas. Eventually we
were holding them in 11 different cities. It sort
66 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
of took on a life of its own. Matching funds from
Lutheran Brotherhood made it even more
important to the budget of LOMT.”
Eventually Hawkins was devoting 40 nights a
year to the high-pressure event. That, plus the
introduction of caller ID into most homes, brought
about the end of the phone call fundraising.
(Author’s Note: The first time I was invited to
participate in the LOMT Phonathon, I accepted
as a board member, but I had a pretty bad
attitude about doing the calling. But once I
started talking to parents of campers, it was just
amazing. Many of them wanted to talk on and
on about the great experience their child had at
camp the previous year. And many of them
talked about their own experience at camp
many years earlier. Just about all pledged
something and it was so easy to make the next
call. I think most participants in the Phonathon
had this same uplifting experience.)
Hawkins also introduced LOMT to the idea
of a legacy fund raising program. The Behnken
Society was started in 1995 with 54 initial
charter members. Members of the Behnken
Society committed to either include LOMT in
their will, or as a beneficiary of a life insurance
policy. The Society was named after Texan Rev.
John W. Behnken, former president of the Texas
District and president of the Lutheran Church
Missouri Synod from 1935 to 1962.
John Hawkins resigned from his position at
LOMT in 1999, to take a position with
Brackenridge Hospital in Austin and then the
Lutheran Foundation of Texas. He later worked
again for LOMT for a time, and is now the
National Development Director for Lutherans
Through the 1980s and 1990s summer camp
continued to be the heart of Camp Lone Star.
The requirements for a successful summer of
camp sessions were many. But certainly
qualified staff was essential.
During this time, Camp Lone Star had a
number of Program Directors. Although the stay
for each may not have been long, many went on
to other ministry opportunities, utilizing the
skills, experience and training afforded them by
Camp Lone Star.
After the first full time Program Director,
James Preece, these Program Directors served:
Above: The Koop Center, opened in
1992, brought a whole new dimension
of large, air conditioned meeting space
to Camp Lone Star. The Koop Center
serves as the site of the closing
program for each week of summer
camp, and it has hosted worship
services, weddings and the annual
Below: The Selah House was
completed in 1999. It provided camp
with additional mid-size meeting
space, along with upscale sleeping
quarters. The House is often used
as a self-contained small retreat
Chapter 4 ✦ 67
Day Camp has been a great outreach
to the La Grange/Fayette County
community, offering summer day
camp and after school programs to
• Michael Phillips, 1985-87
• Craig Oldenburg, 1987-89
• Daryl Obermiller, 1991
• Todd Roeske, 1992
• Cheryl Wilke (now Bailes), 1993-94
• Jim Holmlund, 1995-99
• Mark Thompson, 2000-03
In 1995 a new staff position was created, an
assistant to Garland Midgett. Rev. Henry Biar Jr.
was hired as Assistant Director of Camp Lone
Star. Rev. Biar became the first worker stationed
at Camp Lone Star to receive a formal call, again
through the Texas District.
In that same year Keith Lund, Camp Director
of Texoma Lutheran Camp, was given the added
responsibility as Executive Director of LOMT.
It is certainly worth noting that, in 1989,
Mary Oldenburg, wife of Program Director
Craig Oldenburg, began Day Camp for children
who live in the La Grange area. Although the
program has undergone changes, and is now a
part of Club Connect, consisting of Day Camp,
After School Care and Movie Nights, it has been
a highly successful part of the Camp Lone Star
ministry, and a great outreach to the community.
One of the legacies that Garland Midgett left
with Camp Lone Star was the professional
training required of summer staff. Always a
meticulous organizer, Garland made certain that
summer counselors, especially novices, were
prepared for the challenges ahead.
“I started right off requiring summer staff
counselors to be ‘adults’ who had completed
one year or more of college,” Garland relates.
“And they needed to commit to an entire
summer and participate in staff training.”
“Staff training was for one week immediately
prior to the beginning of summer camp. This
later expanded to include additional days for
leaders and program specialists. I did all the
training except for lifeguards and medical
professionals. I brought in specialists for the
training and certification for these areas.
“Originally all summer staff were certified as
lifeguards and Red Cross first aid medics. It was
intense training and I often felt a need to expand to
a longer time. But for years that was impractical.”
One person who has played a role in training
of staff and junior staff over the years has been
the longest serving summer staffer, Matt
Chambers. Matt first came to Camp Lone Star as
an eight-year-old camper in 1980. After that
summer, Matt says he was “absolutely
committed” to coming back to camp every year.
Upon graduation from high school he began
working at camp. During 26 years of summer
staff service, Matt has experienced just about
every leadership role at camp, and is also
involved in music selection and performance.
Matt, a teacher at Redeemer Lutheran School
in Austin, is a big advocate of Garland’s
approach to intense staff training. “Staff training
is a big, big deal,” he said. “In staff training
we create a sense of urgency. Staff members have
to be prepared to meet the culture. They have to
be prepared to explain to kids, who are
confused, about how they can have healthy
relationships, with their family and with their
friends, of either sex.
68 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
“Training today is more in-depth than in the
early ’90s. Training is both psychological and
theological. We push the staff to the brink of
what they can take in their lives. Because they
need that to get through to kids.
“We can’t afford to have a bad day at camp
because we are talking about souls. So we want
the Word to be the beginning point of
everything we do. Kids are desperate to hear
what truth is. So we have to be prepared to
Matt took over as coordinator of the Junior
Staff program in 1992, and served several
summers in that role. His direction, he said,
was to take the program and “grow it”. Junior
Staff had been around for years, since its initial
title of “Helping Hands”. The high school
students who serve as Junior Staff spend two
weeks at camp working in a variety of roles,
with no pay.
“Our approach was for them to understand
service and to serve hard,” Matt said. “The
Junior Staff experience has the same
foundations as the summer counselors. So
training is important. Spiritual maturity is
also important to this age group. We have
Bible study every night and that time has
allowed us to break through many barriers with
In 1996, under the leadership of Program
Director Jim Holmlund, the Junior Staff program
was changed to be led by dual coordinators.
“Jill Williams (now Neuhaus) and I were the
first dual coordinators,” Matt recalled. “By having
both a male and a female leader, we became, in a
sense, like parents to the Junior Staffers. We were
able to model healthy relationships between
members of opposite sexes.
“Another important role for the Junior
Staff coordinators is to evaluate people coming
up, so we always have new summer staff
members with experience and the right attitude
Matt also worked with Jim Holmlund in
adding important features to one of Camp Lone
Star’s most successful camp programs,
Discovery Camp. Discovery is a week-long
Left: Matt Chambers, on the right of
this photograph, is the longest serving
summer staff member. Matt has
brought leadership to summer staff
training, junior staff management and
Discovery Camp. He has also been
active in selecting and producing
music for summer camp.
Below: Junior Staff members help in a
wide variety of camp tasks, many of
which involve handling dirty dishes,
or require skill with a rake or shovel.
But most JC’s fully enjoy Sunday
afternoons when they can assist new
campers at check in.
Chapter 4 ✦ 69
camp for high school age kids. Although it
existed throughout Garland Midgett’s service as
Camp Director, Discovery Camp changed
dramatically during the mid and late 1990s.
According to Matt, 1995 and 1996 were the
years when changes had to be made. Prior to
that time, he said, “there were issues, but
something happened in those years. There was a
cultural shift. Kids were coming to Camp who
did not understand relationships. How can you
understand your relationship with the God of
the Universe if you have no relationship with
your earthly father? There had been an increase
in the divorce rate. Issues, like homosexuality
and substance abuse were brought to camp by
SONGS FROM THE 1990S
I WILL SING TO THE LORD A NEW SONG
I will sing to the Lord a new song from my heart
I will sing of His wonder and His might
The mountains and the sea proclaim His truth in
all the earth
For He is good, and He is just, and He is right.
FOR THOSE TEARS I DIED
You said you'd come and share all my sorrows
You said you'd be there for all my tomorrows
I came so close to sending you away
But just as you promised
You came there to stay
I just had to pray
And Jesus said, "Come to the water,
Stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty,
You won't be denied.
I felt every teardrop
when in darkness you cried.
And I strove to remind you
for those tears I died".
Friends are friends forever
If the Lord's the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
Cause the welcome will not end
Though it's hard to let you go
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetimes's not too long
To live as friends
No a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends.
Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
Sanctuary, for you.
HEART OF ME
By Craig Oldenberg
Jesus, you are the heart of me
You bled and suffered for my sin
You died so I can live
You rose so I can rise
You are the heart of me
My heart is in your hands.
By Mike Tauser & Matt Chambers
Watercolors wash away in the storm
But the colors Jesus gives us, remain strong
Don’t let those colors fade away
Let them shine bright and strong everyday
Keep those reds running through your veins
Yours and Jesus’ blood are one and the same
Purple you are royalty
Enthroned by Christ for eternity.
The water and His word are sparkling blue
A river of life that flows through you
Nourishing a garden green
With more abundant fruit than has been seen
My friends don’t get smothered by the gray
Follow Him while it’s still day
He has given you new life
And a brand new soul that’s glistening white.
70 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Race for the Kingdom is the highlight
of Discovery Week, with campers
divided into two teams, the Bolts and
the Gladiators. The Race is an
opportunity for campers to work
together and experience a unique style
of competition, with a foundation of
“We began a change in how we approached
details at Discovery. We gave the kids structure
they needed, rather than the freedom they
wanted. We decided to make Discovery super
intense and serious. The intensity of Discovery
made kids want to be a part of it.
“By 1999 Discovery once again started to
be completely full, and has been since. In 2000
we added Race for the Kingdom, an intense
spiritual and fun event. Race for the Kingdom
makes Discovery different from any other
competitive environment you are ever going to
“A lot of Christian camps struggle to get
teenagers to come to camp. At Camp Lone Star,
we have found a formula that succeeds in
bringing them to camp and sending them home
Throughout the history of Camp Lone Star,
one huge factor has helped the camp grow and
prosper. God has blessed Camp Lone Star with
amazingly generous supporters who are willing
Chapter 4 ✦ 71
The dedication ceremony for the
Pavilion “Hangar” in 1999. The
facility opened up Camp Lone Star to
be able to offer a variety of sports,
including basketball and floor hockey.
to share in the vision of why camp is important,
and to help extend that vision by providing
financial resources. One family that has
made a huge difference in the appearance
and assets of camp is that of Lawrence
Lieder and his late wife, Mildred Lieder.
Among their gifts are these. In 1992 property
adjacent to Camp Lone Star, that had been
a part of the original Wilkens farm, became
available for sale. The Lieder family provided
the funds to purchase the 133.28 acre “new
property,” more than doubling the size of
Camp Lone Star. The New Property is now
called the Riverfront Property because of the
one mile of Colorado River frontage it affords.
The Lieders also constructed the Pavilion
“Hangar” in 1999, which has opened up new
activities for campers. And more recently they
built and installed new water tanks for the camp
In 1999 another management change for
Camp Lone Star was implemented. Garland
Midgett assumed the title of Chief Financial
Officer of LOMT, relinquishing the title of Camp
Director to Jim Holmlund. Jim Holmlund, from
Minnesota, began as a summer counselor,
worked on the maintenance staff and eventually
became Program Director. As Camp Director,
Jim had full control of all program activities at
Camp Lone Star, including summer camp and
retreat business. But Garland Midget remained
on the scene and available to consult with Jim
on any major decisions, particularly those
affecting the camp budget.
A tragedy struck the Midgett family in 2000,
when their married daughter, Sheila Kappler
was killed in a tragic car accident in Giddings.
Sheila and her brother Clint, had grown up at
Camp Lone Star. She had served on the camp
staff in a variety of roles, from horse wrangler to
kitchen helper. As a tribute to Sheila’s service to
camp, her family created an endowment in
Sheila’s name, to provide funding for summer
staff. Hundreds of donors have provided capital
for the endowment, and many continue to
contribute to the Sheila Midgett Kappler
Memorial Endowment. Today, and in the future,
the endowment provides funds each summer to
help pay staff counselors.
In 2002 another major addition to Camp
Lone Star became a reality, as the 1952
swimming pool was replaced by a modern and
72 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
The addition of the new riverfront
property brought with it the original
Fred Wilkens log cabin. The cabin
is now used as the Nature Center
much larger pool, including racing lanes and a
wading pool for children. The new pool was
funded by generous camp donors.
Jim Holmlund resigned as Camp Director in
2002. This required Garland to become involved
in daily camp management again. To assist in
this, an experienced camp staffer, Mark
Thompson, became the camp’s Program Director.
Then in 2003 Matt Behrens, former camp
director at Mount Cross Lutheran Camp in
California, became Camp Director, reporting
directly to Keith Lund. Like Jim Holmlund, Matt
Behrens had control of most Camp Lone Star
decisions, although Garland Midgett was always
nearby for consultation.
In 2005, Garland Midgett announced his
pending retirement. For the next four years
Garland and Stell continued to work part-time for
LOMT, providing camp and retreat registration, as
well as computer and database consulting.
Chapter 4 ✦ 73
Above: The new swimming pool went
into use in 2002, replacing the
original Camp Lone Star pool. The
new pool is approximately twice as
large as the 1952 swimming pool. It
is used extensively throughout
summer camp, but it is also used for
swimming competition and practice
by the La Grange Independent School
District and the Fayette Area Swim
Right: Garland Midgett, “Mr. Camp
Garland Midgett, like the preceding three Camp
Lone Star CEO’s, was brought to camp by Almighty
God as just the right man, at just the right time.
During his years of service to Camp Lone Star,
through his gifts of invention, organization and
leadership, Garland presided over a camp that grew
from a part-time facility with aging facilities to a
modern, multi-faceted camp, complete with
camper cabins, a retreat center, meeting facilities
and a 21st century pool, supported by a
professional staff, and hundreds of enthusiastic
donors and supporters. And Garland’s wife, Stell,
was a major part of this transformative era.
Garland and Stell are officially retired today. But
if you happen to stop by Camp Lone Star, you just
might find them there, still helping and dreaming
of how to make Camp Lone Star even better.
74 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
T HE P ROFESSOR OF C AMP - KEITH L UND
When Keith Lund, his wife, Jill, and their two children, Amy and Bryan, moved to Texas in July,
1983, in order for Keith to take the position of Texoma Lutheran Camp Director, he quickly became
a partner and a protégé of Garland Midgett, Camp Lone Star Director.
Initially Keith and Garland reported to Karl Petzke, Executive Director of TOM, subsequently
renamed LOMT. But with Karl’s resignation in 1990, the two camp directors became a vital part of
the new LOMT management committee. In addition to the camp managers, the management
committee included the LOMT Board President, and the Development Council Chairman. Although
Keith was elected as chairman of the management committee, the real work of managing the LOMT
ministry was performed by the duo of Keith and Garland.
As the paid staff members on the management committee, all immediate decisions affecting either
of the camps were joint decisions of Keith and Garland. The creation of the management committee
by the LOMT Board put both men into the position of having to think globally about the ministry
and its financial, promotional and program needs. No longer could either be just a camp director.
The result of this close relationship between Keith and Garland resulted in a unique partnership
between the two that helped LOMT grow and prosper through the early 2000’s. Keith was appointed
Executive Director of LOMT in 1995, but continued as Texoma Camp Director. Other than Keith’s
change in title, the two men continued their collaborative management style, with input from John
Hawkins, on board as Development Director through the 1990’s.
If Garland was the inventor, statistical analyst, mechanic and planner for LOMT, then Keith was
the professor with the booming voice who could articulate, at length, the principles of the ministry,
from “pattern interrupt” to “intentional Christian ministry” to “vulnerability” and explain how they
applied to each camp session and retreat opportunity. Both men were highly competent leaders for
each camp, but each with his own unique style.
If ever there was a conflict between the two, it was quickly resolved and never became an issue
for the LOMT Board.
The camp’s Tree Chapel lets God’s
nature be the glorious setting for
Chapter 5 ✦ 75
Above: Keith and Jill Lund came to
Texas in 1983 to manage Texoma
Lutheran Camp. Today Keith serves
as Executive Director of LOMT, and
Director of Camp Lone Star. Jill is
an invaluable addition to the camp
Right: Keith Lund and Garland
Midgett, working as a collaborative
team, built Camp Lone Star into the
facility and ministry it is today.
The management change that placed Keith
and Garland into the unique collaborative
partnership was one of the great blessings of
God in the history of Camp Lone Star.
Keith was born and reared in Merced,
California, in the San Joaquin Valley, famous for
its agricultural productivity. He was baptized and
confirmed at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Merced.
He attended elementary and secondary
school in the public school system in Merced.
When Keith was in the 8th grade, he already
knew that his future was in camping. He wrote
to an official with the Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod in St. Louis and said he wanted to work
in ministry in the “out of doors”. The reply from
St. Louis was that he should continue his
education and then get involved at one of the
church’s Walther League or Lutheran Laymen’s
As a young student in Merced, Keith spent
countless hours hiking in the Sierra Nevada
mountains. Here he learned to appreciate the
majesty of God’s creation, and became further
inspired to a career in the outdoors.
“My dream then,” recalls Keith,“ was to be a
pastor somewhere in the mountains, where I
could share God’s Word with hikers in the
summer and skiers in the winter.”
After graduation from high school, Keith
began his studies at St. Paul’s College in
Concordia, Missouri, where he met his future
wife, Jill. After his junior college years, Keith
transferred to Concordia Teachers College,
Seward, now Concordia-Nebraska. There he and
Jill both studied education, and, upon
graduation, the two received their first calls as
teachers at Immanuel Lutheran School in
Lakefield, Minnesota. The married couple served
there from 1976 to 1983. Keith eventually
attained the position of principal at Immanuel.
During his time at Immanuel, Keith
participated in camp activities at Camp Omega,
the camp for the Minnesota South District. He
was invited to join the board of directors of
Camp Omega by Karl Petzke, Camp Director,
Karl Petzke subsequently accepted the call to
TOM and Camp Lone Star, as its executive
director. The Camp Omega Board offered Keith
a call to Camp Omega as Petzke’s replacement,
but Keith declined.
In May, of 1983, at the urging of Petzke, the
LOMT Board called Keith to be the Camp
Director of Texoma Lutheran Camp, his first
ever job at a camp.
Keith said his immediate response to being
part of TOM was “total awe.”
“I was so blessed to be part of this
organization with a great national reputation,
and great leadership in Garland and others.”
In fact, Keith said that when he and Garland
began attending NLOMA events, “I really got a
pass because everyone just assumed I knew as
much about camp management as Garland.”
Keith and Jill dove into the challenge of
making the sprawling Texoma Camp a success
76 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
on the order of Camp Lone Star. Keith became a
fund raiser and a PR man for the camp, in
addition to his duties of initiating summer camp
programs and offering retreat opportunities.
Keith traveled extensively throughout the
Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and across other
areas of north Texas calling on Lutheran pastors
and camp supporters. Jill handled registration
and office administration for Texoma.
In 1988 and 1989 Keith worked closely with
Karl Petzke and Garland Midgett in planning for
the ill-fated Equipping for Excellence fund
raising campaign. Since part of the potential
income from the project was to be spent at
Texoma, Keith offered his input on needed
facilities. He also worked with the professional
fund raising group to identify potential donors
throughout north Texas.
Keith recalls that during the time that Karl
Petzke served as LOMT Executive Director,
neither he nor Garland were invited to attend
LOMT board meetings. Karl handled all liaison
between the camps and the board.
“When Karl resigned in 1990,” Keith said. “We
really sought out the opportunity to meet
regularly with the board, and it was granted. I
think that helped give board members a better
perspective of what was happening at each camp.”
With the creation of the Management
Committee, on Karl’s departure, there was even
more reason for the camp managers to make
regular reports to the board.
The LOMT board named Keith as Executive
Director of the ministry, in 1995, and it was an
exciting time for Lutheran Camping in Texas.
According to Keith, “The late 90’s were good
years…growth years…for both camps. And we
had recovered significantly from the financial
crisis of 1991. A part of this had to do with the
effective development program instituted by
But the second half of the decade of the ’90s
was also a time when LOMT carried its greatest
debt. The original bank loans for the Retreat
Center and other capital items, made in 1979,
were eventually rolled into one note with the
Texas District Church Extension Fund.
Although the interest rate was initially zero
percent, the total debt, in 1995, was more than
$640 thousand. It later increased to nearly $800
thousand. The amount of debt carried by LOMT
became an item of discussion by critics of the
ministry, particularly at District Conventions.
However, through the good graces of the
District, led by Rev. Jerry Kieschnick, District
President from 1991 to 2001, the District
contributed $75,000 annually to LOMT, all of
which went toward paying down the Church
Extension debt. The debt continued to decrease
each year, but was not cleared until 2003, when
Texoma Camp was closed and assets purchased
by the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.
The first decade of the new millennium was
a time of great change in LOMT, under the
leadership of Executive Director Keith Lund.
Camp Lone Star continued to have successful
summer camp programs under the direction of
Jim Holmlund, serving as Camp Director, and
working in association with Garland Midgett, in
his new position as Chief Financial Officer for
LOMT. The new swimming pool was used in the
summer of 2002. Matt Behrens became Camp
Director in 2003, after Jim Holmlund resigned
Above: Crafting has been a tradition
at Camp Lone Star since the first
Below: Jim Holmlund served as
Director of Camp Lone Star from
1999 to 2003.
Chapter 5 ✦ 77
Above: The camp office moved from a
deteriorating mobile home to this new
building in 2005.
Below: Matt Behrens was camp
director from 2003 to 2007, resigning
to attend Concordia Seminary-St.
Louis. He was ordained in 2012 and
today serves as pastor of The Well
Lutheran Mission in Buda.
and returned, with his family, to Minnesota. The
Retreat Center underwent its first interior
remodeling since construction. The new office,
in use today, was completed in 2005. Former
counselor Karl ‘Tiny’ Streit, a Director of
Christian Education (DCE), came on board the
maintenance staff in 2005.
Despite Camp Lone Star’s success, Texoma
Lutheran Camp could never reach the necessary
critical mass of campers, retreatants and
financial support from north Texans, to reach the
break-even point. The LOMT board debated the
fate of Texoma for several years before entering
into an agreement, in 2003, to sell the assets of
the camp to the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas.
It was an emotional and difficult period for the
Lund family, who had planted roots at Texoma in
1983 and later in nearby Pottsboro. Since Keith’s
responsibility as Executive Director of LOMT
now meant more time on-site at Camp Lone Star,
the Lunds purchased a home in Hillsboro.
Keith made frequent trips to Camp Lone Star
to oversee the work of staff members. But he
also put thousands of miles on his car making
development calls on supporters and recruiting
new Development Council members. During
this time Jill ran the office for LOMT out of the
Lund home in Hillsboro.
In 2007 Matt Behrens resigned as Camp
Director to pursue a seminary education, and
eventual ordination. Fortunately, Garland
Midgett, working part time for LOMT, was close
at hand to fill in some of the critical duties when
Matt left. But Keith and the LOMT board were
faced with searching for a new Camp Director.
After a nationwide search, Keith recommended to
the LOMT board the hiring of Dr. Phil Frusti. Dr.
Frusti, from Wisconsin, had a long resume of
teaching and administration in Lutheran schools,
and also in the Concordia University system. His
doctorate in educational leadership was awarded
by Concordia, Chicago. Dr. Frusti was hired by
LOMT in time for the 2008 camp session.
During 2008 another crisis faced the camp. The
water tower for the Camp’s potable water system
failed. It had to be replaced during summer camp.
Camp Lone Star’s benefactor and friend, Lawrence
Lieder, again came through, funding and building
new water storage tanks for the system.
Dr. Phil, as he was known at Camp Lone Star,
remained as Camp Director for only a year. His
resignation, in 2009, brought LOMT leadership
back to the position of finding someone to lead the
camp. Some members of the LOMT board were
outspoken in urging Keith Lund to move to Camp
Lone Star to take on the role of Camp Director.
“It was the obvious decision,” said Keith. “We
put our house on the market and moved into
on-site staff housing at Camp Lone Star.”
To help spread management duties, the
LOMT Board also approved the promotion of
Tiny Streit to the position of Operations
Director. This relieved Keith of the
responsibilities of keeping up camp buildings,
facilities and systems. And John Hawkins was
re-hired as Development Director.
78 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
SONGS FROM THE 2000S AND 2010S
ROBE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
I am covered over with the Robe of Righteousness
That Jesus gives to me (gives to me)
I am covered over with the precious blood of Jesus
And He lives in me (lives in me)
Oh what a joy it is to know
My Heavenly Father loves me so
He gives to me, my Jesus
And when He looks at me
He sees not what I used to be
But He sees, Jesus.
By Mike Tauser & Matt Chambers
The women woke this morning, made their way to the tomb
With spices they’d prepared to place upon His mortal wounds
The stone was rolled away, He was not there to their surprise
And lightening clothed men revealed to them the miracle…He
Just as he said the Third Day came and He was back amongst
Friday’s death had done its best but it could not contain Him
Just as He said the Third Day came and the darkness washed
Just as He said the Third Day comes for all of us today.
Seven miles from Jerusalem, two of them were walking
With downcast hearts they made their way of Jesus they were
Then He was there beside them, the evening drawing near
He broke the bread, they saw Him then, the miracle was clear.
Their troubled hearts were gladdened when he said look at me
And they saw He had overcome His battle…with the tree.
With downcast hearts they made their way of Jesus they were
Then He was there beside them, the evening drawing near
He broke the bread, they saw Him then, the miracle was clear.
All of them were gathered in a locked room they did hide
Then to their amazement Jesus found a way inside
Their troubled hearts were gladdened when he said look at me
And they saw He had overcome His battle…with the tree.
GOD OF WONDERS
Lord of all creation
Of water, earth and sky
The heavens are your tabernacle
Glory to the Lord on high
God of Wonders beyond our galaxy
You are holy, holy
The universe declares Your majesty
You are holy, holy
Lord of Heaven and Earth
Lord of Heaven and Earth
Early in the morning
I will celebrate the light
When I stumble in the darkness
I will call your name by night
All of them were gathered in a locked room they did hide
Then to their amazement Jesus found a way inside
Hallelujah to the Lord of Heaven and Earth! (x3)
“You know, God blesses us in spite of ourselves,”
Keith said in reflecting on his transition to living at
camp. “It was really timely for me to take on the
duties of Camp Director. From my standpoint the
ministry was just too important to put in the hands
of people who don’t understand camp.”
“By being on-site I became very aware of an
attitude that had been growing since the late
1990s. The staff, both summer and full-time,
had started to follow the idea that they were
going to be a youth camp and a youth camp
only. Part of this idea came from the original
Chapter 5 ✦ 79
Top, left: Tiny Streit joined the camp
staff in 2005 as director of
maintenance. Today he is Operations
Director, in charge of all facilities and
infrastructure of the camp.
Top, right: Patrick Nazaroff served as
a program staffer from 2009 to 2013,
helping to renew the staff connection
between summer camp and adult
Below: The “shark prayer” is one of
the most popular of the many unique
table prayers offered by campers
camp master plan developed by Paul Fjare, in
the late ’80s. That plan called for an adult area
that would include an adult retreat center, RV
pads and hookups, and cabins for adults to live
in while volunteering at camp. The base camp
was to be devoted to youth. This was an
ambitious plan that never reached fruition,
especially after the addition of the new property
and the Koop Center. It turned out the planned
adult area was just not necessary. But the
tension over youth ministry versus adult
ministry was real.
The action taken by Keith was to essentially
separate summer camp from adult programs.
Keith worked extensively on developing and
staffing retreat business. And he allowed the
program staff to run summer camp.
“The outcome,” said Keith, “was a stronger
summer program, and at the same time we
recovered our adult programs. Since moving onsite,
I have had very little to do with summer
staff training and management. Matt Chambers
has taken the lead in this area, along with other
full time and program staff.”
He credits Patrick Nazaroff, who became
Program Associate in 2010 with “becoming
the connection between the summer staff and
the adult programs. That gave us a clearer
balance between the two areas and allowed us to
The attention to the adult programming,
Keith said, helped LOMT approach the
Texas District for a major grant to help upgrade
the Retreat Center and the youth dining
hall. The District provided $79,000 for the
project in 2012. That, along with private
contributions, allowed LOMT to remodel the
old facility, including replacing the walls and
flooring. The youth dining room was also
remodeled and made more efficient for dining
“It was another example of the amazing
support Camp Lone Star has received from the
Texas District throughout our history,” said Keith.
In 2013 the LOMT Board took on another
project that was described by Keith as
“desperately needed.” That need was housing for
the Camp Director and Operations Director.
Having quality housing for the Camp’s permanent
leadership had been discussed and debated for
years, but funding had never materialized. Keith
and Tiny approached the Board with a novel idea.
80 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
LOMT would build modest residences for the two
families, and the two directors would pay rent
while they were living in the homes. The board
bought into the idea and the two houses became
an attractive addition to the camp property.
As the 75th anniversary of Camp Lone Star
came into view in 2013 and 2014, the LOMT
Board, along with Keith Lund, began planning
for a Capital Campaign that would address two
needed major projects.
The first was replacement of the old
wastewater plant, which had been in operation
since 1979. The old plant was in such bad
condition that camp leaders had feared for years
that it would fail in the middle of summer camp
and require temporary closing of camp. The
possibility was so potentially eminent that an
informal agreement had been in place for several
years with the Texas District Church Extension
Fund to provide emergency funding for a
replacement for the plant, in the event of its
failure. Total cost for the new plant is $350,000.
The second project is a combination
meeting/sleeping facility, the Christ Cabin,
designed for youth and other retreats. It will
feature six sleeping rooms, each with six to eight
bunk beds. A central media-equipped room, the
Resurrection Room, will accommodate the need
for multi-media presentations. Total cost of the
Christ Cabin is $750,000.
Top: The summer staff opens each
session of camp with an opening skit.
Middle: Staffers surround campers for
each session and offer prayers for a
successful week of fun, spiritual
growth and learning.
Middle: Paul Terral became a
program staffer in 2010 and served
Chapter 5 ✦ 81
Right: The remodeling of the Retreat
Center included a complete renewal of
the Youth Dining Hall.
Below: The Camp Director’s House.
A second residence was also built in
2013 for the Operations Director.
To help raise funds for the two projects,
totaling $1.1 million, the LOMT Board gave the
campaign the title “Forever Thankful”. The
Forever Thankful campaign takes its title from
1Thessalonians 3:9, “For what thanksgiving can
we return to God for you, for all the joy that we
feel for your sake before our God”.
The campaign began during the 2015
Barbecue Weekend, and both projects are under
way. The massive concrete wastewater plant was
constructed off-site and delivered to Camp Lone
Star to facilitate wastewater processing for
generations to come.
82 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
Top and middle: A recent popular
addition to fun activities for campers
is the Slip and Slide.
Bottom: Keith Lund was the primary
planner and fundraiser for the
Capital Campaign begun in 2015.
Here he is shown at the
groundbreaking for the Christ Cabin.
The construction of the Christ Cabin is being
completed, as this is written. Groundbreaking
for the building took place during the 2015
Barbecue Weekend, as major donors, David
Howard and Kathy Howard, former LOMT
Board President, turned over a spade of soil.
David was called to his heavenly home on
September 15, 2015, less than two months after
the groundbreaking ceremony.
The two projects will be a legacy of thanks
from generations of campers, retreatants, staff
members and visitors, who have been richly
blessed by God through Camp Lone Star over
the past 75 years.
In early 2016 Keith Lund announced to
the LOMT Board of Directors that he will
be retiring as Executive Director in August,
2018. The Board has begun planning for the
transition and hopes to have someone on staff a
year in advance of the retirement, to take over
Keith Lund has served LOMT faithfully
since arriving in Texas in 1983. His leadership
Chapter 5 ✦ 83
Top: Kathy and David Howard are
shown turning a spade of soil at the
Christ Cabin groundbreaking on
Barbecue Weekend, 2015. The Christ
Cabin is dedicated to the glory of God
in honor of Kathy and David
Howard. The Christ Cabin
Resurrection Room is dedicated to the
glory of God and in loving memory of
Sheila Midgett Kappler and Rachel
Middle, left: Camp Lone Star was
featured in a segment of the popular
PBS program, The Daytripper, in
2012. Here staffer Patrick Nazaroff is
interviewed by Daytripper host, Chet
Garner, prior to a canoe excursion on
the Colorado. The episode on La
Grange can be viewed at
became evident to Board members, who
elected him as Executive Director in 1995.
Since then he has been the face of a dynamic
ministry, dedicated to sharing the Gospel of
Jesus Christ through the unique intentional
Christian community of Lutheran Outdoors
Ministry of Texas.
Who will replace Keith as the Executive
Director? At this point, that question has yet to
be answered by the Board leadership of LOMT.
But, by the grace of Almighty God, like all of the
former CEO’s of Camp Lone Star, it will be
exactly the right person called to the position at
exactly the right time.
Middle, right: Sojourn camp is a camp
session specially designed for North
Texas campers. During Sojourn week,
a group of summer staffers journey to
Camp Shiloh on Lake Bob Sandlin
near Pittsburg, TX. Here they lead
campers in an off-site version of
Camp Lone Star activities.
Bottom: Luis Sanchez and Clayton
Wagner repair a leaky water line.
Often the most unsung, but most
talented, camp staffers are members of
the maintenance crew. Without them,
campers might not be able to turn the
lights on or flush the toilet.
84 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
W HY D OES C AMP M ATTER?
Over Camp Lone Star’s 75 years, tens of thousands of lives have been touched by the camp’s ministry.
During research for this book, the author has had the pleasure of speaking with dozens of people
about the story of camp, and also the importance of camp. Over my years of involvement with Camp
Lone Star, I’ve also heard many others speak of their love for camp, how camp has impacted their
lives and why camp matters.
Why does Camp Lone Star matter?
For some, it is a very personal, experiential answer that cannot be easily or adequately expressed
in words. For others, it is a topic worthy of hours of conversation, going in many different directions.
Keith Lund is of the second category. For Keith, explaining the importance of Camp Lone Star
starts with the LOMT mission statement: “A Mission of renewal and outreach in the midst of God’s
creation and among His people.”
“The statement was first adopted by the LOMT Board in 1984 and no effort has ever been made
to change a single word,” notes Keith.
From the mission statement, several things become apparent. LOMT and its physical location,
Camp Lone Star, are involved in a Christian mission, not just a social activity. The mission involves
renewal of faith for the faithful, and outreach to those who have not yet met the Savior. And the
mission mainly takes place at a location, Camp Lone Star, where God is present, and his creative
work is visible for all to see.
By Matt Chambers’ unbiased evaluation, “Camp is the greatest ministry on earth. It is definitely
the most powerful ministry I’ve ever been a part of. Every moment at camp is the opportunity to
Matt says his standard for every aspect of summer camp is: “If it’s not about you, Lord, it’s garbage.”
Although Camp Lone Star is not a church, in that there is no ordained pastor providing word and
sacrament ministry to a congregation on a regular basis, it is definitely a part of the church founded
by Jesus Christ. God is present and the Word is taught.
Barbecue weekend is an exciting time
for anyone who has ever been a part
of Camp Lone Star. The weekend
includes not only a great barbecue
meal, but also an outdoor worship
service and the annual auction.
Chapter 6 ✦ 85
God’s Word is the foundation of
everything that happens in the
“intentional Christian community” of
Camp Lone Star.
It is difficult to spend time at Camp Lone
Star without recognizing the presence of
The work of the CREATOR is evident in the
sky, the stars, the trees, the water, the grass and
flowers, the birds, the wildlife and, especially,
the people. Prayers addressed to the Father are
offered at almost every activity conducted at
camp, and songs raise praises to the everpresent
Through teaching and dialogue, the presence
of the REDEEMER is clearly shown.
Vulnerability opens campers and retreatants to
recognize their sin. The message of the Gospel
assures them of God’s incredible grace, in
sending Jesus, the Son of God, to accomplish
His redemptive work on Calvary. Crosses
around Camp Lone Star, like the one on the
cover of this book, are present to remind all, of
Jesus and his loving atonement on a cross.
The SANCTIFIER is present to bring the gift
of faith to camp participants, and a new, renewed
life in Christ, through that faith. The Holy Spirit
is also called the Counselor. His counseling is
not so far removed from how staff counselors
encourage and uplift their charges at camp
through prayer, praise and worship. And God’s
Word, the Bible, written through the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, remains the foundation for
everything that takes place at camp.
Keith Lund also points to Core Values,
defined by the LOMT Board, as a key to
understanding why camp matters.
The first of these Core Values is
INTENTIONAL CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.
Everything done at Camp Lone Star happens
as an intentional effort to glorify Christ. And
what is done occurs within an intentional
Christian community. In that community,
participants at camp can feel safe emotionally,
physically, and spiritually.
The intentional Christian community of
summer camp is obvious. There is daily Bible
study, public and private prayer, praise through
songs and hymns, encouragement by faithful
staff members and friends, nightly devotions,
and activities from challenge course to hikes,
used to teach Christian values.
But intentional Christian community is also
the framework for retreat groups and visitors to
Camp Lone Star. Table prayers are offered before
each meal. Christian symbols, crosses and
artwork, remind everyone that camp is a place
where Jesus comes first. Bibles and devotional
materials are in each sleeping room. Staff
members stand ready to pray with anyone, to
encourage them in their faith and to counsel
and share God’s Word.
The second Core Value is PATTERN
INTERRUPT. The term means that the life
you are used to at home, from your iPhone
and computer, to your daily routine of
activities, to your friends, to habits and your
darkest thoughts, is left behind, when you come
86 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
“By interrupting the patterns that society is
throwing at you,” says Keith, “you become
vulnerable. A lot of things we do at camp make
people vulnerable. We seek to fill that
vulnerability with Christian love, Christian care
and God’s Word.
“A camp, by definition, is a temporary place
of residence. While you are spending your
temporary time at Camp Lone Star, you are
being asked to do things you don’t normally do,
but which are okay to do. In fact, some of what
you may be asked to do is powerful and can
have positive eternal blessings for you.”
The third Core Value, added only recently, is
JESUS CHRIST IS SHARED AS SAVIOR.
“For years we just assumed that we were
always sharing the good news about the Savior,”
according to Keith. “But as more and more
campers and others come to Camp Lone Star
without a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, it is
important that we remind ourselves to
intentionally share Jesus with everyone.”
“Opportunities abound for us to proclaim
Jesus Christ, through Bible study and devotions,
and discussions about the topics presented. We
often find ourselves introducing young and old
to the Bible and its timeless truth, for the very
Keith calls the Core Values the “guiding
concepts” for the ministry.
“This year the LOMT Board really got into the
importance of our Core Values,” said Keith.
“They began asking, ‘What does this mean for us
as Board members?’ and ‘What effect do these
Values have on decisions we make for the camp?’
“Camp is responding to the culture and
the culture is different from the 1940s or ’50s.
The Core Values may be the same, but the tools
There is a recurring, mistaken belief among
some of the younger generation, that Camp
Lone Star did not really have a spiritual
component, until recent years.
According to Keith Lund, people who see
camp this way “have probably experienced a
renewal of their own Christian walk at camp,
and that’s a very good thing.”
“But the reality,” notes Keith, “is that principles
of the LOMT Mission Statement and Core Values
have been around since Camp Lone Star was
founded by the Walther League 75 years ago.”
The Walther League’s motto of Pro Aris Et
Focis, is translated from Latin as “For Church
And the opening lines of the Walther League
Song reflect the League’s commitment to an
Intentional Christian Community:
Walther Leaguers, Walther Leaguers,
one and all are we,
Serving Jesus Christ our Savior,
Who has made us free.
Bible study, mission work, and service were
values of the Walther League and these values
became a part of Walther League camping in
Texas, from its beginning in 1929.
“God’s Word has always been the foundation of
Camp Lone Star and its programs,” notes Keith.
“If there is a difference today, it is that in the
1940s most campers were regular church
attenders and participated in prayer, Bible study
and devotions, in their homes. Today many
campers and adults come to camp without a real
connection to Jesus and to the church. Now the
mission field comes to us. We don’t have to seek
So what are the fruits of 75 years of Camp
The simple answer is that the vast majority of
all that Camp Lone Star has accomplished is the
result of relationships; relationships with and
among people and relationships with God.
As individuals react with each other, and
with staff, within Camp Lone Star’s Intentional
Christian Community, friendships blossom.
This was true of the Walther League days and it
is true in 2016. Camp is fun, interesting and
inspiring, and sharing those experiences with
others often leads to connections that last a
It is significant that the Walther League called
its annual camp barbecue a “reunion”. It was a
time to renew acquaintances and friendships
made at Walther League events, and especially
at Walther League camp events. This, of course,
was in an era prior to social media, email and
inexpensive phone calls. Today campers have
many options to stay in touch with friends from
camp and for relationships to grow.
Barbecue Weekend is still a reunion, even if
that term is no longer used to describe the
Chapter 6 ✦ 87
Barbecue Weekend is a great time to
rekindle friendships made at Camp
event. And for some, like Glenn and Janet
Hurta, the Barbecue was their path to becoming
connected to Camp Lone Star people.
“We saw a circular about Barbecue Weekend
at church. It sounded like fun, so we went,” said
Glenn. “That’s where we met Karl Petzke, the
LOMT Executive, and that is how we got
involved in camp.
“Camp is family for us. We have no family
except our church family and our Camp Lone
Through her connection to Camp Lone Star,
Janet was invited to serve on the LOMT Long
Range Planning Committee. “One thing we
discovered that has made Camp Lone Star so
successful,” notes Janet, “is that camp is the
church in action, the way the church should
function, reaching out and connecting people
with Jesus and with each other. Only in the case
of camp, the church is without the walls, without
the lectern, without the liturgy…just Jesus.”
Texas District President Ken Hennings also
points to camp as a great way to connect with
friends and to meet people with similar values
and a love for the unique ministry of Camp
While serving at his first parish out of
seminary, in Uvalde, Hennings says he
was invited by Rev. Norb Oesch to participate in
a youth gathering at Camp Lone Star. “There I
met Garland Midgett, who was “Mr. Camp”
as far as I was concerned. That started a
lifelong friendship with Garland and Stell and
Hennings later served at St. Paul Lutheran
Church in Fort Worth. While in Fort Worth,
Hennings received a call from his former
basketball coach at St. John’s-Winfield, Rev. Karl
Petzke. “He told me he needed a pastor to serve
on the LOMT Board, so I joined and served and
was eventually elected president. This opened
up a whole new set of relationships, and my
family became deeply involved in Texoma
As a Board member, Rev. Hennings attended
the annual Camp Lone Star Barbecue for the
first time. “I was just amazed when I went to the
auction,” said Hennings. “They sold a box of
bubble gum and it went for 175 bucks. Then the
buyer turned around and gave it out to summer
staff members. It was just a wonderful,
wonderful time. And it was a great opportunity
to meet people from across Texas. I could not
believe people came all the way from west Texas
to attend the Barbecue.”
Hennings says he has always been “really,
really impressed” by the faithful members of the
Development Council, who “unselfishly provide
significant dollars to keep this ministry going.
God has been gracious in working through these
88 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
“Camp Lone Star has been kind of a second
home for Val and me,” notes Hennings. “We
have lots of retreats at camp for District Staff
and agencies and committees connected to the
District. All that would not be possible without
the excellent retreat facilities we have today and
the accommodating staff.”
There is another level of personal
relationships connected to the story of camp
Lone Star that must be acknowledged.
When young men and women get together in
the intense atmosphere created by Pattern
Interrupt, the occasional romance is not a
surprising spin-off. Many summer staff members,
especially, find their lifetime companion at camp.
And since these connections occur within a
framework of faith and glorifying God, camp
marriages can be strong and lasting.
There was conjecture by some, that the
Walther League was created so young Lutheran
women could find young, eligible Lutheran
men. That same thought has been applied, in
the same jest, to Camp Lone Star. In fact, camp
Above: Children come forward to
hear a children’s sermon by Rev.
Jerry Kieschnick during the
lakeside worship service on
Below: The annual fundraising
auction is a time for enthusiastic
bidders to pick up bargains and
treasurers while helping fund Camp
Chapter 6 ✦ 89
Right: Glenn and Janet Hurta have
given countless hours of effort and
personal gifts to make Camp Lone
Star the ministry it is today. This
photo is from the early 90’s
Below: Wes and Puddin Krueger were
newlyweds in 1957. After a ride
home from Camp Lone Star, the pair
was soon engaged and married.
Today they serve on the Development
Council. Puddin has gone by her
camp nickname since being a camper
marriages have been a fact throughout the 75-
year history of Camp Lone Star.
Wes and Puddin Krueger, long-time supporters
of Camp Lone Star, made their lifetime
connection at camp in 1956. Both lived in
Houston, but attended different Lutheran
churches. Puddin started attending camp in 1951,
and loved everything about her experience. Wes
was never a camper, but as a Senior Walther
Leaguer, he came to the Annual Reunion and
Barbecue with his Walther League friends.
“In 1956 I drove to the Barbecue in my car,
by myself,” recalls Wes. “Puddin also came to
the Barbecue with some friends.”
“I knew Puddin from Walther League
activities in our Zone,” said Wes. “But I didn’t
really know her that well. At the barbecue meal,
I sat down across from her and we started
talking. Since I didn’t have anyone to ride home
with, I asked her if she’d like to ride back to
Houston with me.”
“She had to call her mother to get
permission, and she did,” said Wes. “We really
got acquainted during that drive.”
Within a few months, the pair was engaged
and then married in 1957.
But camp romances occurred even earlier in
the history of the camp.
An early camp staff romance and marriage,
perhaps the first, occurred between
maintenance staffer Clinton Kramer, son of
camp benefactor, Mrs. A.T. Kramer of Wichita
Falls, and Ruth Buchschacher, daughter of a
Waco pastor, Rev. George Buchschacher.
And the story of Senior Counselor Peggy
Schneider, and the camp lifeguard, Gayle Berry,
is recounted in Chapter 3 of this book. The
marriage between Peggy and Gayle has lasted
over 50 years.
Unfortunately, no one kept an accurate
record of marriages that had their first sparks
ignited at Camp Lone Star. Had anyone kept
such a record, there would be a listing of dozens
and dozens of married couples who first met at
Camp Lone Star, including several who were
married at the camp. From all indicators, the
camp marriage phenomenon continues
unabated in 2016.
The results of relationships with God, that
began, or moved to a new level, at Camp Lone
Star, are just as dramatic, just as significant, and,
likely, eternal in scope.
The camp often receives letters of thanks
from parents for the impact the ministry has had
on their children. The following letter is one
that spans three generations of thanks.
Just under 50 years ago I went to Camp Lone
Star in its infancy and came away inspired, and
went on to work in the church to this day.
I sent my own children to Lone Star and now
have sent a grandson to Pioneer Camp.
90 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
This 10-year-old came back inspired and
with a whole new love for his Lord, able to really
verbalize his love for the Lord, and in his words
—“I feel like a different person than I was when
I went.” He lives in an area where there are no
Lutheran churches for many miles and no
Sunday School at all. What a thrill for him.
What higher praise and compliment for
Counselors, Jr. and Sr. Staffers, can you have
than to have made a young person understand
and feel God’s love and be able to really “praise
the Lord” for the first time.
There are no words adequate to say thank
you to a staff of people really serving and
praising the Lord. Thank you LOMT and All the
staff of Camp Lone Star.
(Author’s note: The letter writer requested
that his name not be used in this publication.)
Keith Lund says that his “passion” for the
ministry of Camp Lone Star “has been retained
by seeing people’s lives changed.”
“We cast the seed out, whether it is for 200
campers at Discovery, or a dozen at a retreat. By
God’s grace the seed gives root and grows. We
are blessed to get to see that happen.
“It is sitting with a retreat member, a man
who is dying of AIDS, being able to share the
Gospel, knowing he will not be back next year.
“And it is talking to elementary students who
are at camp for outdoor education, where we set
up a telescope to view the heavens. When these
young people see the rings of Saturn for the first
time, their reaction is priceless. It opens up a
Above: Peggy and Gayle Berry met at
Camp Lone Star while both served on
summer staff. They have been
together as husband and wife
Below: Matt and Megan Chambers
are another duo who met while
serving as summer staff members.
After being married, they continued
staff service as a married couple.
Chapter 6 ✦ 91
discussion about God’s creation that goes far
District President Ken Hennings says he is
encouraged by how Camp Lone Star is
reaching more and more campers with the
Gospel message. “Because of our changing
culture,” Hennings says, “for many campers,
this may be the first time in their lives when
they can have a significant relationship with
God, with Jesus. They find great joy in that
relationship, something they have never
An example of the LOMT Mission of Outreach
and Camp’s Intentional Christian Community is
reflected in this story from Garland Midgett
about a series of professional retreats.
A facilitator, an expert in the field of training
and motivation, contracted with us during
the ’90s to use the Retreat Center and our
challenge course for his training sessions for
He was always respectful of our position and
policies but he was up front about not coming for
a religious retreat, that his use of Camp Lone Star
was strictly business. He gave the impression
that he was a ’60s hippie who was maybe even
He quickly became intrigued with how
we use the challenge course and its effect on
people. The challenge course became the major
part of his training program, working with me as
His attitude about camp and what it
represents changed. He allowed more time for
my input. I was amazed that eventually he even
began to openly express in his sessions
statements like, ‘If you have felt different and
more at ease while you are here, it might be
because this is holy ground. The Lutherans have
been praying over this ground for 50 years.’
Out of these “business” retreats and the
camp staff's interaction with the participants,
many individuals sent their children to camp
and encouraged their organization or church to
come and experience what Camp Lone Star had
Former summer staff member, Christy
O’Shoney says her years as a camper and staffer
changed her life.
“I can't imagine, and I honestly don't really
want to imagine, the kind of person I would be
without Camp Lone Star,” says Christy. “The
lessons I learned at camp are the most important
of my life. Camp taught me the value of working
hard, building deep friendships, serving my
neighbor, but more importantly, it instilled in
me the knowledge that I am loved far beyond
the things I can accomplish. This is the legacy of
camp: that each child or adult who passes
through those gates leaves knowing that they
are loved by God.”
The end result of the close encounter with
God that many have experienced at Camp Lone
Star, is always positive and most often has longterm
effects. Those effects may be personal and
help make the individual a better spouse and
parent, an active church member, or someone
committed to a life of discipleship. But for
others, the Camp Lone Star experience is tied to
their call to full-time church work.
Another long list that should have been
recorded is the list of former campers and former
staffers who became full time pastors, teachers,
youth workers, music leaders or missionaries.
If you want a healthy sampling of that
unrecorded list, just ask Keith Lund or Garland
Midgett about former campers and staffers now
in full time ministry. It is truly amazing how
many current church workers did their informal
internship at Camp Lone Star.
One of President Ken Hennings’
responsibilities is supporting young men from
Texas who are attending the Synod’s two
seminaries. “I am always amazed how many
people who have come through Camp Lone Star
have gone on to seminary,” notes Hennings.
Stories abound about how God used Camp
Lone Star, and experiences at camp, to call
young men and women into His service. These
stories could fill another volume. We will only
record three short and one slightly longer story
to make the point.
Suzanne and Vince Neuhaus are justifiably
proud of their son, Rev. Ryan Neuhaus, a pastor
and an educator. Ryan served as a summer
staffer while a student at Texas A&M.
Vince says that Ryan “always had a soft spot
for kids who needed help. He just always
wanted to help those less fortunate, less
popular. But something special happened while
92 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
he was at Camp Lone Star. The experience
at camp, working with campers, especially
those who did not quite fit in, just grabbed his
heart. It had everything to do with him going
into the ministry.”
Not all those who heard God’s call to ministry
while at Camp Lone Star, found their service in
the Lutheran church. Rev. Paul Schulz is a
pastor at Hill Country Bible Church in Austin.
In a letter to Keith Lund, Paul tells his story:
In 1982, a few days short of my 15th
birthday, I attended two weeks of camp at Lone
Star as a wayward, rebellious Catholic teenager
(my Lutheran friend invited me). While there I
had a dramatic experience with the Holy Spirit
where He convicted me of my sin and told
me “Jesus died so you can live!” it was the
most profound and direct experience I’ve had
with the Lord to this day and it changed my life
forever. From that day on I knew not only that I
was saved, but that the purpose of my life was to
tell others about Jesus. By God’s grace, 18 years
later I went into full time vocational Ministry
and over the last 14 years I have had the
privilege of serving in major leadership positions
in two of the largest and most influential
churches in Texas.
Although I am but one story of all the lives
that have been touched by the ministry of Camp
Lone Star, I think it is very important for you all
to know how big of an impact your efforts are
having for the Kingdom of God. This summer
many young people will attend your camp and
you never know which one (or many) of them
will be forever changed and used by God to lead
the next generation for the cause of Christ.
Please keep up the great work!
Mike Linebrink points to a week at Camp
Lone Star called Priest Corps that had a big
impact on his life. As a high school junior, in
1964, he was nominated for the camp by his
pastor at St. Paul, Austin, Rev. Albert Jesse. Mike
said there were about 30 other attendees, from
across Texas, all nominated by their pastors.
“It was a week of Bible study and mentoring
by some really great folks, including Rev. Leo
Symmank and Rich Bimler, a DCE,” recalls Mike.
“It was a very intense, very spiritual week and it
was definitely a convincing week for me. I knew
then that my career would be in service to the
church. Others at that camp were Walt Waiser
and Marty Doering. Both went on to full time
Rev. Larry Krueger, Senior Pastor at St. Paul
Lutheran Church in Waco, tells about a lifechanging
experience he had at Camp Lone Star.
In 1980 some friends of mine, former
Bluebonnet Zone Walther Leaguers, were leading
a weekend retreat at Camp Lone Star. I wanted to
A reunion of 1964 Priest Corps camp
participants occurred a few years ago
when these four met at the Camp
Lone Star barbecue. From left to right
are Neal Krenzke, Rev. Walt Waiser,
Rev. Leo Symmank, and Mike
Chapter 6 ✦ 93
Rev. Larry Krueger is shown in a
photo from his days as a seminary
student. Rev. Krueger has served in
a number of pastoral roles, including
campus pastor at Texas A&M and
Assistant to LCMS Synodical
President Jerry Kieschnick, during
Kieschnick’s three terms of office.
Today he is Senior Pastor at St. Paul
Lutheran Church in Waco, and serves
as Secretary of the Texas District
Board of Directors.
see them and maybe help with the retreat. I rode
there on my motorcycle. I only knew a few of the
kids attending the retreat, but I noticed right away
they weren’t treating the leaders with much
respect. That really bothered me. It made me sad.
Part of the retreat, one afternoon, was a silent
hour, where you go outside and just sit by
yourself. That was when they were clearing land
for the Retreat Center. There was a bulldozer
there, so I went and sat on the bulldozer seat.
I guess you could call this time the
wilderness years of my spiritual journey. I was
not exactly a model Christian.
While sitting there I prayed hard about the
way kids were treating my friends, the retreat
leaders. I said, “Lord, this just isn’t right.”
It wasn’t a voice from heaven, but might as
well have been, of the Lord saying, “That’s the
way you’re treating me.” That hit me right
between the eyes.
If there was ever a moment of deep
repentance, that was the moment. I said: “You’re
right, Lord. I’m living on the fence. I’m living this
way in this world and another way in Your world.
I’m not living a consistent Christian life.” Well,
that was quite a silent hour for me. It was a time
of conviction, as well as a time of foregiveness.
When we got back together with the group,
we had a Love Circle. This was a time when you
would go around the circle and tell people why
you love them. It was probably the corniest hour
of the retreat. Kids were saying things like, “I
love you because you have pretty hair,” Or “I
love you because you have a nice smile.” This
was killing me. This wasn’t what love was about.
I knew because I had just had one of the greatest
love experiences of my life.
So it came my time and I just said what was
on my heart, “This is garbage. This is not what
love is about.”
And I shared about my last hour with the
Lord. “Love is about forgiveness. It is about what
the Lord just did for me.”
I went around and knelt in front of every kid
in that circle and talked to them about God’s
love. I told them, “The Lord loves you because
no matter what, you can receive the forgiveness
of God and have the love of the Lord in your
Everybody in the room was bawling by the
time I got through. It was a very spiritual
moment in the old Rec Hall.
That was a change point in my life. It
happened at that retreat. That was the day that
God put me on the path to do what I do today.
It was my burning bush. From that point
forward I had a burning desire to serve Him.
Camp Lone Star has a deep spot in my heart
because of that experience.”
So, why does Camp Lone Star matter?
The individuals quoted in this book certainly
know why. As do thousands of others who have
been touched by the powerful ministry that has
occurred over 75 years of camp.
How about you? Why does Camp Lone Star
matter to you? Can you share your answer with
We’ll let our District President, Rev. Ken
Hennings, have the last word: “My prayer is that
this ministry will long be as dynamic as it has
been over the past 75 years, and that, by God’s
grace, it will continue to be a defining part of
who we are as Lutheran Christians in Texas.”
Soli Deo Gloria
94 ✦ IN THE MIDST OF GOD’S CREATION - 75 YEARS AT CAMP LONE STAR
TOM AND LOMT BOARD MEMBERS
Year Name Position Term
1979 Ron Mueller Vice President 1979-1980
1979 Harlan Teske 1979-1980
1979 Rev. Thomas Sorensen 1979-1982
1979 Betty Frost 1979-1984
1979 Rev. James Noffke President/Treasurer 1979-1984
1979 Chris Bentz President/Treasurer 1979-1986
1979 Wilbert Kalbas Vice President 1979-1987
1979 Jerry Saegert 1979-1985
1979 Betty Boecker Secretary 1979-1988
1980 Randy Kerkman 1980-1985 & 1991-1997
1981 Rick Allmon 1981-1982
1982 Rev. Lawrence Kelm 1982-1986
1982 Gary Frieling 1982-1988
1984 Rev. Ken Hennings President 1984-1991
1984 Jim Noack 1984-1991
1985 Bonnie Hahn Secretary 1985-1994
1984 Gary Bounds Treasurer 1984-1995
1985 Mike Linebrink 1985-1996 & 2004-2009
1986 Ron Bartels 1986
1986 Rev. Steve McClintic 1986-1991
1987 Phil Wade 1987
1987 Ron Lammert President/Vice President/DC Chairman 1987-1996 & 2001-2011
1988 Edith Jutzi 1988-1991
1988 Dr. Laurence Meissner 1988-1993
1988 Henry Janhsen 1988-1994
1988 Marvin Stelzer 1988-1994
1988 John Kueck 1988-1995
1991 Rev. Walt Waiser President/Vice President 1991-1999
1991 Catherine Burkhard Secretary 1991-2002
1992 Rev. Tim Dinger 1992-1997 & 2013-2019
1993 Dr. Joe Frost President/Vice President/DC Chairman 1993-1996 & 2001-2007
1993 Don Rawe 1993-1996
1993 Pat Klekamp 1993-1996
1993 Hubert Noack 1993-2002
1993 Glenn Hurta Treasurer/DC Chairman 1993-2003
1993 Lawrence Lieder 1993-2004
1993 Rebecca Kieschnick President 1993-2005
1994 Wes Krueger Vice President 1994-2000
1994 Curtis Doering Treasurer 1994-2005
1995 Joe Gorder 1995-2000
1995 Buddy Hingst 1995-2001
1995 David Howard DC Chairman 1995-2004 & 2013-2015
1996 Warren Ressel DC Chairman 1995-1999
1996 Dr. Merlin Kunkel 1996-1997
1997 Jack Catron 1997
1997 Mark McClain 1997-2000
TOM and LOMT Board Members ✦ 95
1998 Terry Rathert DC Chairman 1998-2000
1999 Rev. Michael Meissner 1999-2000 & 2007-2013
2000 Kathy Lentz 2000-2001
2000 Laura Jennett Treasurer 2000-2009
2000 Michael Cuda Treasurer/DC Vice Chairman 2000-2011
2001 David Goeke 2001-2002
2001 Rev. David Jung Vice President/Secretary 2001-2007
2001 Suzanne Neuhaus 2001-2009
2002 Marty Criswell 2002-2003
2002 Doug Dalrample Secretary 2002-2004
2002 Dee Terry 2002-2005
2003 Dennis Watson Vice President 2003-2012
2004 Dean Gaertner 2004-2013
2004 Kathy Howard President/Secretary 2004-2013
2006 Janet Hurta 2005-2008
2005 Greg Peterson Secretary 2005-2013
2006 Michael Skains 2006-2011
2006 Lloyd Koehnen Treasurer/DC Chairman 2006-2018
2007 Koy Domann Vice President 2007-2016
2008 Troy Johnson President 2008-2017
2009 Terry Rawe 2008-2012
2009 Claire Spivey 2009-2012
2009 Kathy Walther Treasurer 2009-2012
2009 Jill Neuhaus 2009-2018
2009 Karin Warren 2009-2018
2012 Vernon Kelinske DC Chairman 2012-2016
2012 Julie Dayton 2012- 2018
2012 Richard Lorenz 2012-2018
2013 Dean Lauppe 2013-2019
2013 Eric Schmidt Secretary 2013-2019
2013 Mark Stirl Treasurer 2013-2019
2015 Michael De Young 2015-2017
2015 Donna Pyle 2015-2017
2016 Rev. Nathaniel Hill 2016-2017
2016 Rev. Michael Mattil 2016-2019
Note 1: “Year” is first year of service, “Position” is any position served during their term.
Note 2: “DC” is an abbreviation for “Development Council.”
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VIEWS FROM THE MIDST OF GOD’ S CREATION
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