Monday, October 03, 2011

SWB: Church Camp and Connections

Dreamcatcher image from Juror 2 - exceptionally curious t-shirts website.

I love looking for, finding and observing connections in life and today's focus for Sleeping with Bread is exactly that - defining where connections are and aren't made.

I don't know if you ever had the chance to see the TV program "Connections", with James Burke - the science historian; but it is one of my favorite documentary series". James makes his way through the world, exploring the how, why, and what of things that have come to be from the perspective of 1978. I love to find out the way things work and how what they do connects people. I love studying connections!
(If you would like to watch some episodes of Connections, you can view them at Top Documentary Film's website.)

SWB Meme prompt: Where did you feel the least and the most "Connected" this week?

There is some crossover for me this week on where I've felt the most or least connected. If you have ever been a part of summer camp as a kid, or even more so as a staff person as adult - you will understand what I mean when I say "Camps" (especially church camp) have a particular culture and feeling about them that is incredibly consistant, no matter the camp.

Summer camps have a tender place in my heart. I grew up going the Camp Burton from the age of seven, until I became staff at the age of fifteen. When I worked with the Salvation Army, I spent ten summers transporting children and teens to camp as well as leading a few teen week camps along the way at Camp Longpoint. Now with my work in the Lutheran Church, I spend a great deal of time working and attending Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center with summer camps, retreats and special events. This last weekend, I had an opportunity to visit another local camp as I was the guest speaker for Mission Meadows Jr. High fall retreat.

Within a few minutes of my arrival at camp on Friday night, I was reminded of the consistency of camp culture. From the squeaking screen door at the camp office, to the dining hall filled with bouncing campers and a full coffee maker, the beautiful chapel for worship, the red boxy cabins sprinkled across the surrounding hills and the bell tower that held the camp bell - I felt at home.

In some ways, it felt like a parallel universe. The was the friendly camp director, the college-age kitchen and support staff, the counselors and the hopping schedule full of things like chapel, meals, photo relays, 'free-time', snack, crafts, outdoor games and kids - you can't have camp without the kids! So much was the same, yet all the faces were different! Besides a few folks I knew from previous ministry contact, I was part of an entirely new community.

I was welcomed into that community at an amazing pace - that is the way camp works. Within 24 hours, it was as if I'd been a part of the group forever. Folks knew my name, included me in their conversations, meals and activities - again I felt at home.

I think that from my perspective, the only way I felt dis-connected is that the faces and names were different. There were kids and staff that reminded me of other kids and staff at other camps - but they were still very new to me. I don't know if I'd really call it feeling dis-connected, but maybe a little melancholy for the faces I did know. I keep remembering childhood camp memories like: singing around the campfire, going to canteen and making art in the craft shack. As an adult I was remembering: moving worship services, crazy games of shaving cream wiffle-ball, and hours driving to and from camp - as well as the deep conversations with campers along the way.

There is one thing that is always consistant for me about church camp culture: I always have butterflies as I drive into camp and I always feel a sad gratefulness as I drive away. Camp had always been a place for me to connect with people, but even more importantly - with God. This Friday and Saturday were no different, and I'd like to thank the team for inviting me to be a part of that community.

Camp is the place (even though this one was new to me) that I feel very connected to God and where I'm reminded that God has an amazing way of bringing us into faith community - even if the sign on the driveway is different than the one you are used to.

The names of the camps that I've been involved with may be different, but what the sign communicates to me is: Camp ________________: a place to connect with, serve and love God and people.

Thank you God for camp and for helping me make the connection with you and some new community this weekend.


Mel said...

I've never been but I think I'd liken it to retreats with kindred souls on a similar journey. I always leave with a saddened grateful heart.1

Tara Lamont said...

Thanks for reading Mel - so glad you know the sad grateful feeling too!