Summer Camp 2012
As many know, June is the month of summer camp for our youth and children. They look forward to it all year, and they reminisce about it all summer. I’ve often shared about camp before by telling you what we learned from our theme and/or keynoter, but this time I’d like to tell you more about camp by running through a typical day of CYF (high school) camp:
Morning: We wake in our bunks around 7 am. Our cabins are nice; each cabin sleeps 8-18 people in small bedrooms with 2-4 bunk beds per room, two bathrooms, and a living room. We go to a dining hall for breakfast, then trek across the meadow to another large meeting space called Inglis Hall. Once there, we hear morning announcements, sing warm up songs (like “Rise and Shine”), followed by a couple of more worshipful songs, then we
hear the day’s keynote. (This year our CYF Keynoter was Brandon Gilvin from Week of Compassion.) This is followed by about 15 minutes of “solo time”, during which campers spread out across the meadow in silence and spend time journaling or in prayer. Afterward, we meet in our “family groups”, which are small groups consisting of 8-12 campers, an ECOY leader, and two adult leaders, that meet together throughout the week. In our family group meetings, we play group building games, discuss our responses to the keynote, complete activities that help us dig deeper into the scripture and message for the day, and otherwise build relationships and offer our support to one another. For example, my group this year discussed the questions and problems that are most getting in the way of our relationship with God, and offered each other support on how to overcome those. (Lifelong friendships often begin in family groups.) We have a brief break in the meadow while the camp directors, counselors, keynoter, and chaplain gather for a staff meeting, then we have lunch in the dining hall.
Afternoon: Lunch is followed by a time called FOB (“flat on bunk”, aka nap time / quiet hour), which is then followed by about an hour and a half of free time, which can be spent playing games in the meadow or ‘hanging out’ in a few of the designated meeting
spaces. We then have two “interest group” times; interest groups are 1 hr. small groups led with a focus on a particular interest. Some examples are: arts and crafts, Nertz (a card game), ultimate Frisbee, guitar jam session, sexuality and spirituality, worship planning, labyrinth walking, pie baking, hiking, and more… Campers sign up for the interest groups of their choice, and can sign up for different groups each day. (One afternoon of the week
is reserved for a service project for the camp.) We then gather for dinner.
Evening: After dinner in the dining hall, we have our second daily family group meeting,
followed by some sort of whole camp activity. (Monday was group hip hop dancing, Tuesday was a pool party, Wednesday was a special evening of worship and meditation called “Meditation Night”, during which campers silently and individually visit worship stations designed by all of the family groups, Thursday was a special celebration of the graduates and the camp “frolic”, and Friday was a “gift share” or talent show, with t-shirt signing and camp slide show.) On the nights with shorter big group activities, we have a “campfire” time where we take turns leading funny skits and silly songs around a campfire (often made of flashlights due to fire bans). Every night concludes with worship in the chapel, each service uniquely led by a family group, with songs, scripture, portrayals of the day’s message, and communion. We sing a lullaby to each other in the courtyard of the chapel, then walk back to our cabins where we share in a final devotional time with our cabin mates before bed. Our heads hit our pillows between 11pm and midnight (occasionally later), our bodies exhausted, but our hearts filled with the Holy Spirit.
Our youth, especially as they get older, come to camp with a lot of questions that need
answering and hurts that need healing. At the end of the week, we head home newly
transformed, more connected to our Creator, on a path toward wholeness, more fully alive.
The vast majority of youth who regularly participate in camp remain faithful to God in
their adult life. We greatly appreciate your support of the camping ministry, for we are not
just sending our youth away on vacation; we are making lifelong Disciples of Christ.
With hope and gratitude,
The first weekend in November 30, 2012, the youth and 15 adults from around the region gathered at John Wesley Ranch in Divide, CO for the regional CYF (high school) Fall Retreat, Andy, Miranda, and I among them. We played, sang, participated in workshops, and worshipped together, exploring the theme for the weekend, which focused on developing and growing a personal relationship with God. Worship services focused on checking in on the current state of our relationship with God, praying by candlelight for reconciliation or greater depth and renewed passion in our relationship, and watching the sun rise while making a new level of commitment to God. Small group workshops addressed important components of relationship: communication (nurturing a prayer life and learning to communicate with God as well as listen for God’s voice), anger management (understanding anger and how to work through it), fun and laughter (celebrating God’s presence in times of joy, silliness, embarrassing moments, and fun adventures), and everyday experiences (incorporating connections to God throughout a normal day, finding ways to include God in the inner workings of our life, both big and small).
It was a weekend rich with food for our souls, and we came home with deeper insights into our understanding of God’s heart, God’s desire to be known by us, and our ability to enter into a dynamic relationship with God that is more than just ‘belief in’ God, but a living, growing, interactive exchange of love. As we transition into the season of Advent and begin to anticipate once again our annual celebration of Christ’s birth on earth, let us remember that Christ came to reveal God’s heart to us, so that we may better know God and enter more fully into that most sacred of relationships. Let us take time to check in on that relationship, seek reconciliation and depth, and celebrate the many ways that we are blessed by the love of our Maker.
With hope and gratitude,