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^camping is not optional began unofficially at a Pennsylvania campground in 2001 when a group of college friends and acquaintances gathered to share meals, recreation and conversation.  Throughout the weekend, we discovered a shared desire to maintain the supportive, challenging community we had experienced at school.  An organization was born, as well as an annual event.

We believe human beings need one another, that we were created to be interdependent.  In our experience, this has been especially true for individuals who share a commitment to cultivate a faith practice that has implications for every aspect of life.  ^camping is not optional provides a face-to-face opportunity for storytelling.  We share our personal experiences and struggles.  We discover how the unique vocation of another complements our own and we enter into partnership, literally and figuratively.  We learn how others are wrestling with the complexities of everyday life to craft a faith response inclusive of even the most mundane corners of existence.  Our hope is that all participants will leave refreshed for daily service in the Kingdom, knowing that they are supported and challenged in community.

We also believe that human beings were designed to be interdependent with the natural world as well, which is why we've chosen an outdoor setting for these events.  While the average modern life doesn't readily incorporate a daily relationship with the air, trees, soil, land forms and creatures that surround us, spending a period of time in more direct relationship can serve to remind us of the ways in which we might make conscious choices every day to be good stewards of the earth.  In addition, the quiet of a farm or forest or beach provides an important retreat from the noise, an opportunity to breathe deeply, listen closely and love extravagantly.

All people are welcome to participate in any ^camping is not optional events.  Watch the site for information or sign up for the ^camping mailing list.  We look forward to sharing stories with you soon!