Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Summer Camp

Summer Camp is coming. For most of my life I have made time to do camp at least once during the summer, and sometimes during other parts of the year. This year I have been asked to serve on the staff of the Riverside District of the UMC Jr High staff.
For me this means going back to the cabins. I took a year off from that last year as I was the camp dean for the Santa Barbara District with a dear friend and colleague, Amy Aitken. I have been the cabin counselor for many years, but I can honestly say that as I have gotten older (mind you I am still only 31) I have enjoyed the comfort of having my own time to manage as the camp dean. Now, I have to manage the time of the youth in my cabin, and my time...less sleep for me.
The truth of the matter is this. I believe that camp changes everyone involved, from the cooks on-site to the campers and most especially the counselors. It is intentional community, where we have a chance to "try out" our faith and personhood in a safe environment (fewer external pressures, and the additional freedom of others "trying on" their own ideas about who and what they should be). That is exciting.
Camp holds a particular place in my heart as it is through camp that I have come to understand who I am in ministry. I started down the road to ministry at camp, when as a 6 or 7 year old camper I so enjoyed camp, and felt the community of God at work, that I realized that I was being called to care for others through this kind of ministry. I have since added the call to Baptise, and serve the Lord's Supper to that of preaching, rounding out my call a little bit more.
Camp still holds a special place in my heart. I have done camp for every year of my life except one. I have done all kinds of camp programs, from summer day camps, to elementary, Jr High and Sr High camp, to weekend retreat camps, and work camps like Sierra Service Project and Mountain TOP. Each time I am reminded that the environment of Christian care and community, where people have to work through their issues, God is heightened in the awareness of the individual and the group, faith is challenged and built, and people are better able to find themselves is what the church can be. Which brings me to the real excitement of my call to ministry...to bring that intentionality to the local church, and the experience of worship from the local church into the camp environment, along with the long-term connection of the church.
Thanks to the counselors who have made significant differences in my life (Marie, Les, Floyd, Jackie, Tom, John, Sue, Amy, Jen, Matt and so many others). Thanks to the counselors who give their time and energy to serve the children, youth and adults of our world to help them become more fully themselves. You all are a blessing to the world around you.


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