Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Start of the Camp Season

Today many church camps (and camps of all kinds) will welcome their first batch of campers.  The counselors have been trained, the cabins opened and aired out, the mending of boats and equipment is complete:  and now, the work begins.

Participation in a church camp is an important predictor of whether or not a person will continue attending church as an adult or return to church as an adult.  Many of us had our faith shaped at camp, and we can still sing the camp songs.  Many of us experienced a different kind of worship at camp, one that seemed more relevant, and that memory sustains us through many a different kind of worship in our lives.

These days, many people get their only taste of wilderness at a camp.  Granted, it's a tamed sort of wilderness, but it's a place where weeds are allowed to sprout, where we don't control what lives in the tall trees and deep lakes, and where we experience weather often without the benefit of climate controlled buildings.  Some camps are even devoid of wi-fi signals or cell phone towers nearby.  It's a different kind of wilderness, to be without our electronics.

Campers will have a chance to do some activities that may not be part of their everyday lives, like hiking on a trail or paddling a canoe.  There will be some arts and crafts, and some campers will have new materials to play with.  Some may see their first bonfire and have their first s'mores.  Others will learn to cook in a more primitive way.  There might be dramas and songfests. 

For some campers, this may be their first experience being away from home for more than a week-end.  Camp may be their first experience of being away from family and a first introduction to the idea of a larger family, a family of humanity.  The luckiest ones will come away from camp with lifelong friends.

So today, let's offer a prayer for those campers who will have all of those experiences.  Let us pray that these experiences at camp sustain them throughout their years.  Let us pray for counselors and all the others who care for the campers.  Let us pray for all the administrators who work behind the scenes to keep it all running smoothly.  Let us pray for parents and grandparents who help make it possible for children to go to camp.  And let us pray for the little camper in all of us.

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