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07223 April 17, 2007
Presbyterian camping pioneer Don Hostetter dies
Led PC(USA)'s camping ministry for 50 years
by Jerry Van Marter
LOUISVILLE - The Rev. Donald A Hostetter, a pioneer in the development of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s camping ministry, died early Easter morning (April 8) following a massive stroke. He was 77.
Hostetter, a "preacher's kid," was born in West Grove, PA and grew up in Presbyterian manses in Pennsylvania. He graduated from Grove City College and Princeton Theological Seminary and chose camping ministry as his vocation in 1953 while leading a senior high school conference at Denton Lake, NY.
A career-long member of Hudson River Presbytery, Hostetter learned church camp ministry under the tutelage of such PC(USA) Board of Christian Education leaders Maurice Bone, Fritz Messenger, Gordon Hermanson, Hamlin Tobey, Paul Calvin Payne and L.B. Sharpe.
In 1962, Hostetter became field director for the Presbyterian Christian Education Council, a partnership between the Presbyteries of Hudson River, New York City, and Long Island. His responsibilities included all aspects of Christian education for the three Presbyteries' 45,000 members and 300 churches, but most importantly he supervised the camp and conference centers of the presbyteries - Minden in Bridgehampton and the Presbyterian Center in Holmes.
By 1977, these camping responsibilities became his full time occupation, and as executive director of the Presbyterian Center at Holmes, Don orchestrated its transformation from a 100-acre eight-week summer camp to a 550-acre year-round camp and conference facility.
In 1986, Hostestter established The Consultant's Network of the PC(USA) to provide advisory services to the denomination's 140 camps and conference centers. After his retirement in 1994, he was named executive director emeritus of the Presbyterian Center at Holmes and continued his leadership of The Consultant's Network.
The American Camping Association voted to give Hostetter its highest award - the "Legend in Camping Award", which was to be presented in March 2008. He continued to preach, teach, travel and consult right up until his death.
Hostetter is survived by his wife Joan; his sons, Mark and Jonathan; his grandchildren Forest, Charlotte, Lani, Lea, and Kai; his stepchildren Janet, Joyce and Jim; his stepgrandchildren Amelia, Christopher, Ariana, Abigail, and Max; and his "adopted" grandchildren Leighana and Anika.
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