SDB Design Sprint Retreat for Camp Reimagining

Written by Carl Greene

June 14, 2023

The first ever SDB Design Sprint for Camp Reimagining took place from June 9th to 11th in Janesville, WI. The innovative gathering at the SDB Center included 24 participants from 9 different Seventh Day Baptist Churches. Here are just a few comments that give a picture of our time together:

“Loved meeting everyone and working with all of you throughout the weekend on our exercises!”

“It was a great weekend! Very insightful and motivating!”

“It has encouraged me to not just reconsider, but pursue new paths in how I participate in camps, and the SDB ministry as a whole.”

What Did We Learn? I am glad you asked.

The dynamism of the gathering went beyond the “what” of excellent content, and highlighted the “how” of interactive discussions and activities. We engaged in Creative Hustle exercises. Played the Mission Possible game. Prototyped creative solutions (crafting at the SDB Center was a new experience). And, we established goals along with first steps toward those goals for our individual camping ministries.

The Design Sprint uses a design thinking approach to leverage existing assets of each camp to address named problems and build generative solutions. The content and activities push us to keep coming back to the five traits of flourishing ministries as established by Thriving Congregations: Compelling Clarity, Faithful Agility, Holy Tenacity, Rooted Relationships, and Dynamic Collaboration.

Who Was There?

Participants included: Pastor Keith and Audra McCall (Edgewater SDB; Edgewater, FL). Pastor Michael Spearl (Union Station SDB; Dunedin, FL). Nicole Goss and Sarah Owen (Foothill Community; Montrose, CA). Logan Curran (Salem SDB; Salem, WV). Pastor Matthew Olson, Casey Ballard, and Chantel Bink (Berlin SDB; Berlin, NY). Xavier Pethtel (Frontier-Carbon Valley; Dacono, CO). Pastor Tim and Karen Smothers (Battle Creek SDB; Battle Creek, MI). Isaac and Samantha Floyd (All Nations SDB; Grand Rapids, MI). Pastor Nathan Crandall, Doneta Osborn, and Brittany Kersten (Milton SDB; Milton, WI). John Pethtel, Nick Kersten, Carl and Cindy Greene (SDB General Conference; Janesville, WI). We were also blessed to host three “youth consultants” from Milton SDB during part of the weekend.

The Design Sprint Retreat was led by a team from the Thriving Congregations Initiative: Chris Aho, Brian Foreman, Andrea Huffman, and Kelly Adams. This Lilly Foundation funded ministry is led by Chris Aho of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). CBF’s Thriving Congregation Initiative exists to equip ministry leaders with tools and strategies necessary to move towards transformation and thriving in their unique congregational context.

The weekend was possible thanks to the collaborative generosity of a number of groups that are supportive of SDB Camp revitalization. The Campbell University Center for Church and Community provided initial grant funding and networking to get this SDB initiative started. Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Thriving Congregations Initiative were more than generous in their allocation of resources and time to make the weekend meet its potential. Finally, the SDB Memorial Fund is a tremendous advocate of revitalizing SDB camps and providing resources to leverage the work.

Want to know more about the Design Sprint Retreat and how it might apply to your ministry context? Contact Carl at

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