Kanakuk’s “Family of Ministries”

Kanakuk is not a typical summer camp. In fact, (according to a 2015 IRS ruling) it is a church, which minimizes the amount of transparency and public reporting required of most nonprofits and makes it impossible to quantify the number of vulnerable children that Kanakuk impacts on an annual basis. Joe White’s evangelical empire has dozens of affiliated entities, sprawling and franchised programs, and an international reach.


According to Kanakuk Ministries IRS 990 forms, Kanakuk describes its mission as:

  1. To relieve poverty by providing food, clothing, medical supplies, and other basic needs to under privileged or impoverished children;
  2. To advance the Kingdom of God and promote Christian virtue in individuals by providing support for Christian evangelistic organizations and programs;
  3. To educate children and advance the Kingdom of God by operating camps to teach Christian faith and athletic skills;
  4. To assist other religious, charitable, and educational organizations in the conduct of similar activities.

The following compilation of Kanakuk’s “ministries” lists only a few examples of their programs and affiliated organizations that target children and youth:


KLIFE is a parachurch ministry within the Kanakuk empire that seeks to disciple high school students year-round through “klubs.” It was Founded in 1979 by Joe White and a former Kanakuk Kamps director, Richard Beach, and incorporated as a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 1991. Many former Kanakuk campers, counselors and Kanakuk Institute graduates are hired to start, lead and fundraise for local chapters across the U.S.

Kanakuk Link Year

Kanakuk Link Year is a program of Kanakuk Ministries founded by Adam Donyes in 2011. The program served 67 enrolled students over the fall and spring semesters of the 2018-2019 academic year. The program promotes itself as a “gap year” option to students who have graduated high school but are not yet ready for or accepted into colleges and universities.

Kanakuk Child Protection Plan

The U.S. Department of Justice issued the Camp Director’s Guide: Preventing Sexual Exploitation of Children in 1988 and many more best practices emerged in the following decades. Kanakuk only created its Child Protection Plan (“CPP”) after Pete Newman’s 2009 arrest “[r]esponding to the need for a comprehensive safety system in the administration of child abuse protocols in camping,” according to its marketing web site.

Kanakuk Institute

Kanakuk Institute describes itself as “deliver[ing] applicable essentials of seminary, preparing students to live a Christ-exalting life in any occupation” through its eight-month discipleship training program for college graduates. Incorporated as a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2002, its students receive a “Certificate of Leadership and Biblical Studies.” The program has graduated over 1000 students and takes place on Kanakuk Kamps Hawaii-themed family camp campus called K-Kauai in Branson, MO.

KampOut! Day Camp

KampOut! Is a traveling program of Kanakuk Kamps that “brings the exciting adventures in Christian athletics of Kanakuk to your community.” It is a day camp for children ages 5-12 hosted by 50 partners (primarily churches) around the country.

Kanakuk Haiti

Kanakuk Haiti is a program of Kanakuk Ministries that was established by Joe White in partnership with Cross International. Cross International has received scrutiny regarding a lack of transparency on its relationship with affiliated organization Cross Catholic Outreach.

Kids Across America

Kids Across America (KAA) is a set of segregated Kanakuk camps for “urban youth” ages nine to 18. Neighboring Kanakuk Kamps and referred to as part of Kanakuk’s “family of ministries,” the subsidized KAA camps serve up to 6,984 campers and 1,224 “urban youth” leaders (called Kaleos) each summer season. Kaleos work with KAA kids in their home communities around the U.S. and chaperone them at camp. Over 600 college students per year are historically co-recruited with Kanakuk Kamps and hired as summer counselors for KAA. High-profile music artists such as Lecrae and Jordin Sparks and other celebrities have visited and supported KAA over the years.

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