Frequently Asked Questions

For whom are these classes intended?
The Compass Points courses are intended for current and aspiring outdoor ministry professionals who would like to expand and deepen their knowledge in camp and retreat ministry. The participants come from a wide variety of positions, facility types, and program models. Persons of all denominations are welcome.

How much does it cost?
Click on the Upcoming Courses tab in the menu above for the current cost for tuition, lodging, and meals.

Is financial aid available?
There is a $25.00 discount for members of Lutheran Outdoor Ministries, Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Association, United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries, Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers Inc. and the Outdoor Ministries Association of the United Church of Christ. Additional support may be provided by a participant’s home site, denomination, and/or sponsoring association.

Who are the faculty for these classes?
The faculty are selected due to their knowledge in the course subject and each have experience in outdoor ministry. The Biblical and Theological Foundations and Program Design and Implementation courses are taught by the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia (near Atlanta).

Do I need to enroll in the Compass Points program before I start taking classes?
Participants may take just one, several, or all of the classes. The program will track your progress if you decide to complete all eight courses and pursue the Compass Points certificate.

Where do these courses take place?
One of the back-to-back course offerings takes place at Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, GA) every year and a half. The other courses are held at selected camp and retreat sites across the United States. In order to keep the prices low for the participants, the Compass Points Coordinating Council selects these locations based on the host site’s bid.

What is the schedule for a typical Compass Points course?
All of the classes in the program (except for the Site Administration and Capstone courses) involve the participants gathering in person for two and a half days. These courses are offered back-to-back during the week – one from Sunday dinner to Wednesday lunch and the other from Wednesday dinner to Saturday lunch. Class time will begin with dinner on the first night. For the next two days, the class will meet from breakfast to lunch, from lunch to dinner (with some sort of break), and then a period of time after dinner. The course content will be delivered using lecture, small and large group discussions, class presentations, and other activities. On the last day, the class meets until lunch (on either Wednesday or Saturday).

Do I have to attend all of the class?
These courses are intense in the amount of content presented; full attendance and participation are required in order to receive credit. Any exceptions (highly discouraged) must be arranged in advance. The courses are designed around sharing and discussion with faculty and fellow participants, so your participation is important to the overall quality and experience both for you and your fellow learners.

Is there a final project related to these courses?
Each of the courses has a final project. The instructors use this assignment to evaluate the participation’s articulation of the subject matter. The final project is typically due one or two months after the class. The instructors will grade the final project and give the participant a passing grade or request to re-write of some or all of the assignment.

Can I take a course without completing the final project?
Participants may audit a course without receiving credit towards the certificate. Courses can be taken as a stand-alone class if one seeks to deepen knowledge in that particular subject matter.

What do I receive if I complete the certificate program?
Participants who complete all eight courses receive a compass inscribed with their name and a certificate signed by the President of Columbia Theological Seminary. More than that, graduates of the program enjoy a network of collegial support and expand the effectiveness of their ministry.

Do you have other questions?
Please contact Joel Winchip at