by Lee Hull Moses
I went to church camp for the first time when I was 11. I don’t remember much about that first week, except that I made a friend named Andrea and I got stung by a bee. I must have had a good time, though, because I went back every summer for the next ten years.
Camp was my happy place, and those weeks spent as a camper and later as a counselor were about as formative of my faith life and my vocation as any other experience. Vespers on the hill overlooking the lake, meals in the dining hall, songs around the campfire, climbing the big tree in the front yard, playing four square while we waited for dinner… In all these, I sensed something happening — I don’t know what I called it then; today, I call it a little glimpse of the kingdom of God.
I’m thinking about all this today because next week, I’m going back to camp. To Christmount, this time, with a bunch of kids from First Christian. I’ll be there all week with them, as the keynoter for the camp, which means I get to introduce the Bible story for the day and get them thinking about what it might have to do with them. I also get to hang out with some really great kids, explore the creek and the mountains, sing some songs, play some games, and make some new friends.
It’s been awhile, since I was a camper or a counselor, and to be totally honest, I’m maybe just as nervous as I was that first time. Will I get along with the other counselors? Will the kids like me? Who will I play with during free time? These, coupled with some new grown-up anxieties I wouldn’t have imagined when I was 11, like, will I be able to get a run in? Will I gain five pounds on camp food and s’mores? Can I survive without constant access to my cell phone? Will everybody at home survive without me? (I already know these answers: not on those hilly Christmount roads, probably, yes, and yes.)
Camp has the potential to plant some seeds for our kids, for all of us. The community we build at church camp, imperfect and temporary thought it may be, can paint a picture of how the world should be. It’s the beloved community Jesus imagined, where all are welcomed, embraced, and loved.
All this is to say thank you: thanks for sending our kids to camp next week, and thanks for sending me. Your financial gifts and your gifts of time and support make it possible for us to experience the kingdom of God. Thank you.