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Campcraft School of Ministry

Today I'm writing to inform you about a side of our school that's been somewhat dormant for the past several years. But first, a bit of background. In June of 2001, before I was even finished with my first degree in ministry, I was handed the leadership position of a "college" by one of the largest martial arts organizations at the time. I was a few years into my ministry career and was very involved in martial arts ministry; and was a young leader with a head full of ideas for this organization.


They had long been struggling to receive any accreditation for the school. During the committee meeting, I suggested not conforming to the traditional approach to education because the way they were trying to do it would never work. Instead, rely upon a more esoteric system and organize as a religious school of training, which would allow for the many philosophies being represented in the type of training they provided. Accreditation, or circumvention of such, was permitted for religious institutions. With that nugget, the steering committee elected me to serve as President of this college. That first year was a nightmare. The school was a diploma mill- it was being managed by too many conflicting people, each of which issued "qualifications" as they saw fit based on martial arts prowess and not academic qualification. It took me an entire year to get that under control, and I did it by making it a Christian college, which was not overly popular at the time.


Our first church school campus circa 2003. My uncle Jerry was the Pastor.

Still, in college, I took classes, read books on being a higher education administrator, and did all I could to become competent. I graduated in 2003 with my Bachelor's and immediately jumped back in for my Master's, which I completed in only one horrendous year. It took me a few years to learn enough to function as a college, but by late 2004, we had grown to have a couple of hundred students studying Christian Martial Arts Ministry and Church Ministry. I had a lot of help from local pastors and friends more educated than myself, and I spent many hours talking to the higher education authorities in my state (Indiana at the time). I wanted to make sure everything we did was legal, legit and met the baseline requirements for a degree or diploma.


In early 2005, we had a breakthrough. I had partnered with a missions organization, and I contributed to a new ministry curriculum. This partnership enabled us to provide our training curriculum as a school. This curriculum was also incredibly affordable for the end student. We jumped from a couple of hundred students in 2004 to having twelve satellite campuses (many in foreign nations) and over one-thousand total students in 2005. By 2006, we had reached two-thousand total students and twenty satellite branches. I made very little income from this venture, but it was ministry, and many people were being trained, so it was worthwhile. At this time in my life, God asked me an important question.


Our second church campus circa 2006.

Do you want to be a millionaire? Yep, that's what I felt like God asked me. My response was that I would instead affect a million souls than have a million dollars. Within a day or two of this question, two influential organizations approached me to buy out my bible college. It was the same week that our lives dramatically shifted to a wilderness season (a time of great suffering) because I refused their offers, albeit for the right reasons. I detail this in my book, The Gospel of Survival, so I'll forgo anymore here. Suffice to say. It was a rough and educational period.


Within months, I ended up legally reorganizing the school, then renaming the school to block greedy people from running it into the ground pursuing their secret agenda. When money is involved, church people get very mean. This hidden agenda is one of the many factors that lead us into the wilderness and outdoor ministry as the school's focus henceforth. Within a year of this change, we became one of only a handful of schools offering training in wilderness ministry and the only school specializing in outdoor skills.

New minister ordained at a Pathfinder Gathering

I had to shut down ministry-based operations in 2015 when I took over as the Lead Instructor at The Pathfinder School, the workload was too much to do it all, and that's saying something considering what I 'd done in the past. In 2018, we reopened with Bethlehem Outdoor College (which had been in existence since 2011). Since our trademark registrations passed and have all been granted- we've renamed BOC to the Campcraft School of Ministry and we're all finally under one umbrella, and Robyn and I are the leaders. Learning from the past twenty years- this is the way forward for us as a specialized school of ministry.


So, what do we do? Well, we offer three levels of ministerial training. We offer a 5-day Ministry Camp, which is an introduction to Outdoor Ministry and how to do it. This camp is a ministry licensing class, so not only will you learn how to pray, share your testimony, and do essential ministry functions, but you'll learn to do it all through survival and bushcraft skills training. This class is a great way to visit with us in person to receive hands-on training with our school's instructors and me, all of whom have graduated from this unique training program. This course gives you the tools to begin an outdoor ministry in your area, whether you call it a school, work with a church, or other clubs- the end goal is to make disciples for Jesus Christ.


Aaron Branch when he graduated from his Instructor's Diploma program

For those desiring a higher level of ministerial training and a complete understanding of our unique outdoor skills curriculum, we offer an Associate of Arts in Practical Outdoors Ministry. This program is for those that desire to operate professionally in ministry, own an outdoor school, or have an intense calling to share the Gospel of Survival. For graduates of the Associate degree program, we offer a Bachelor of Arts in Practical Outdoor Ministry, which continues building upon the foundation we've established. We have plans for a Master's level program after enough have completed the required undergraduate-level training.


You can learn more by visiting www.campcraftschoolofministry.org and by reviewing the Frequently Asked Questions for each page.

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