Virtually popping up out of nowhere in Western South Dakota is 71,000 acres of granite spires and cliffs, gentle mountain summits, rolling green hills, sparkling blue waters, huge skies, and open ranges of the wild west. Custer State Park will inspire you to go out and find adventure!
Custer State Park is a rustic, remote, secluded area within the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Popular activities include hiking, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives as you explore the park and its surrounding areas.
Here you’ll see one of the largest herds of publicly owned bison in the world – 1,300 bison roaming through the hills and meadows! Expect to also see antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, mountain lions, prairie dogs, and wild turkeys.
ACMNP in Custer provides:
Our Custer State Park teams serve at three different locations: Blue Bell, State Game, and Sylvan Lake. The teams are typically comprised of two team members in each location. These sites are 7-20 miles apart from each other.
Ministry team members seek employment from Custer State Park Resort either at Blue Bell Lodge, State Game Lodge, or Sylvan Lake Lodge, depending upon ministry assignment offered.
"God is awesome! I was amazed all summer at how creative He is in designing such a beautiful country that is so varied. He made mountains, beaches, prairies, forests, rivers, oceans, and islands."
Custer State Park, SD
What should I expect?
Are you ready for an adventure of a lifetime? You have come to the right place. In addition to having a national park as your backyard, you will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful and important ministry efforts. National parks, although beautiful, are remote and challenging locations.
Can I choose my park?
While we cannot guarantee that you will get your top preference, we do consider your requests as we assemble teams. There is a section of the application where you will be able to list your top three park preferences.
If we are not able to offer you the park of your choosing, we will suggest an alternate park location that might fit with your interests and team needs. We ask that you apply to ACMNP for the ministry experience more than the park location, and we will do our best to find a good fit.
As you can imagine, team assembly is a complicated process. Every team member placement has to take into account employer needs, team needs, dates of availability, various ministry logistics, and applicant interests. We appreciate your flexibility and openness through this process. Trust us, by the end of a summer with ACMNP, every team member claims their national park as the best national park. There really is no bad placement!
What does a typical week look like?
One of the greatest ministry opportunities you will have is through your seasonal employment. Working 40-hours each week through the local hospitality concessionaire gives you the opportunity to get to know and work alongside those within the community. Not only does your employment provide you with an income, but working in this context gives you credibility for your ministry as you become friends with people who may have negative associations with Christians. That said, a big portion of your week will be your job, which is also a significant part of your ministry.
Can I apply with a friend?
Yes, you can absolutely apply with a friend! You will find a section on the application to indicate who you are hoping to serve with, please be sure to list them there.
If you are applying with a group of people, we would strongly encourage you to separate into pairs, and spread out into multiple parks. The experience is typically much stronger when you are serving on a team with new friends from different backgrounds. Not to mention, groups of friends serving in multiple parks generally enjoy sharing their experiences and encouraging one another from across the parks.
Who are we looking for?
What will this cost me?
Ministry Team Members will actually earn an income through seasonal employment with private park hospitality companies (concessionaires). Additionally, seminarians enrolled in a seminary or theological graduate program will be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship stipend ($3,000 for returning seminarian leaders). If you are interested in our Advanced Leadership Development Program, you can earn $1000 through your participation. Room and board is provided at minimal cost and differs by national park location and employer. You will find quickly that living in a national park is very inexpensive, and most team members usually walk away with $2500-3000 in their pockets by the end of the summer!
ACMNP's ministry in the national parks is a specialized effort and presents unique challenges. Therefore, every ministry team member is required to attend the ACMNP National Training Conference. There is a $25 application fee to process your application, and a $350 program fee to cover training, program, and season expenses. We have a reduced fee of $275 for returning alumni. Some team members choose to raise support to help cover these costs.
Please also note that Ministry Team Members are responsible for transportation to/from the training conference and transportation to/from the national park where they will serve.
You are just a few clicks away from a life-changing season in a national park! Can you hear the call? What are you waiting for…
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”