Tall Turf Ministries History: Pursuing God’s Vision
Responding to growing racial tensions taking place across West Michigan in the 1960’s,
Camp Tall Turf began in 1969 with four core premises:
1. Reconcile to God
2. Reconcile to oneself
3. Reconcile with others by finding common ground
4. Reconcile with creation.
Its purpose: To pursue and advance God’s vision of wholeness, unity, justice, peace and healing (Shalom) for today’s increasingly diverse world. This is done through building relationships that make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of youth.
As the years progressed, it was clear year-long programming was needed to carry out this purpose and Tall Turf Ministries (TTM) was formed as the overarching entity.
Today, a year-round ministry of reconciliation builds on the primary and foundational experiences that occur while being part of a diverse and caring community at summer camp. TTM’s year-round ministry provides ongoing support to enable and equip young people with developmental assets such as: faith and confidence; the ability to face and overcome challenges; to achieve their potential; and to live lives of celebration while serving as agents of renewal and reconciliation in their communities.
Programs and outreach performed by Tall Turf Ministries are constantly changing to meet the needs of the community. These changes are made with the direction of the staff and governing board, as well as with input from the community we serve.
Tall Turf Ministries Programs
Overnight Youth Camp
Each Camp Tall Turf session offers up to 128 youth fun, faith and fellowship in a safe and peaceful environment with opportunities for personal growth. Campers will practice devotions designed to reflect on their experiences and their confidence in the Lord. Each cabin, consisting of a group of 8 youth supervised by one adult, will learn to work as a community in their living quarters, in the dining hall and camp activities.
Each day, campers have opportunities to choose their own adventures in leadership training, sports, science, arts and adventure under the care of qualified adults held to the highest standards of the American Camping Association. Each activity will be facilitated to emphasize the camp theme. As these young people build relationships through shared experience, the message of reconciliation is lived and practiced throughout the summer.
Held over a weekend, sessions are organized around a curriculum of reconciliation, but also offer lots of time for families to participate in recreational activities and interact with one another.
City Camp is a partnership between Neland Church and Tall Turf Ministries. City Camp takes place for one week during the summer and brings students entering 2nd-8th grade together for a week of singing, skits, memory verses, activity groups, and Bible lessons.
Camp-To-Go (Summer 2020)
All in-person programming was suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain outreach efforts while complying with state-required social distancing, Camp-To-Go was created. “Camp-To-Go” kits included STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) and worship themes. Youth ages 8-13 were the specific target for developmental activities, although some younger youth participated with help from their families. Online resources were created to teach the projects and master skills. Kits were distributed 4 times throughout the summer, each with different activities and items to encourage hands-on learning. Kits were curated by Tall Turf Ministries staff and distributed in partnership with Neland Church.