NEWS FROM SLUMBER FALLS CAMP
Dear Friends of the Camp,
It is hard to believe that we just concluded my 20th summer at Slumber Falls Camp. Where has the time gone? This has been an amazing journey since I arrived in the summer of 1997. Over these years there have been a lot of changes. Anyone remember sweating in our food during the hot summer when all we had in Woelke Lodge was box fans? Of course the kitchen was even hotter. We have added new facilities including Kelsey Lodge, Horak Court, Jeannette's Wing, an Observatory and totally remodeled Borne and Memorial. This summer those changes continue with the addition of what I am calling the River View Deck.
Change is often a hard thing for folks to deal with in life. Life is really like the Guadalupe River. It is full of twists and turns and of course lots of changes. On any given day it could be extremely low or filled to flood stage. Friends, when life stops changing, we have ceased to be alive.
I know that with my leaving at the end of this year, there will be more changes coming. I am optimistic that those changes will continue to improve this place we call Slumber Falls. I look forward to coming back to visit in the years ahead to see all the new changes because I know that this ministry is alive and growing.
I have always said that the real reward for me has been to see the growth and development in young people that takes place at Slumber Falls. Through the years I have seen many young people who have grown up at camp to become CITs, Counselors, Directors, SALT staff, and assume leadership in the wider church. A number of our campers and staff have gone on to seminary and now serve the church as ordained ministers. Mandy Palm who directed our last session of camp this summer was a camper years ago when Bonnie and I were volunteer staff here at Slumber Falls prior to my taking my current position. I have watched Mandy mature and move through her years at camp to serve in every position listed above. It was fitting that she directed this last session of camp for my 20 year ministry since she is also the current Chair of our Camp Council.
Kevin Witt oversees the national Outdoor Ministry program for the United Methodist church. In a recent blog post he shared a conversation that he had with his 30 year old daughter about her experiences at a variety of camps during her formative years. What she said is right on target in my opinion about the value of this ministry that we have all been a part of.
"What always amazed me was the way very different people from many different backgrounds can come to live together and so quickly open up to embrace and support each other as friends. I mean everyone not just those who would normally get the attention and acceptance. Every time, without exception, a unique atmosphere grew and came alive that drew people to care for each other and to participate in a shared gracefulness to work through problems. Clicks, rejection, put downs just had no place. Nobody pushed that agenda, but it was somehow understood without coercion, but out of joy and respect. Camp was a safe place. That was a core value that people cherished and held close. I did not experience that consistently in school and other activities and groups I was a part of. In those environments, there was a lot of pressure to fit in and to meet expectations, and those who did not measure up were so often isolated or rejected passively or deliberately. I would say what impacted me most was the genuine experience of community among diverse people, and the very real possibility of nurturing that in life."
My own son John captured a similar sentiment a few years ago when he coined our tag line,
"CAMP FOR A WEEK, FRIENDS FOR LIFE"
Friends, Slumber Falls Camp is a sacred place. I invite all of you to continue to work to make it a place that continues a 58 year tradition of touching the lives of both young and old with the message of the gospel. For me that message of grace is summed up in the UCC statement, "No Matter Who You Are, Or Where You Are On Life's Journey, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE."
I hope to see you at the falls whenever you get a chance to visit.
Rev. Charles L Stark
Director of Outdoor Ministry