The United Church of Christ has some of the most remarkable camps and outdoor ministries. Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a week with other folks involved with outdoor ministries at Silver Lake Camp in Connecticut for Consult XXI. Consult occurs every two years and focuses on networking, education, and spiritual renewal for individuals connected to outdoor ministries. This conference was life giving and inspiring. We examined social justice issues and how our camps can better respond and heard keynotes from Rev. John Dorhauer, the UCC General Minister and President.
After one of Rev. Dorhauer’s talks, a fellow director brought up the uniqueness of camping ministries and paralleled them to monastic spiritual experiences. Where in our country are we afforded the opportunity to focus on living with God and all of creation while at the same time being able to serve others? How accessible are these experiences, especially for those desiring to live in this environment? How important or influential are experiences like this to the spiritual formation and faith development of an individual? What are the ripple effects from being around individuals who seek deeper relationships and understandings for life?
I began to think about our summer staff and how serving at Slumber Falls Camp encourages them to grow and transform. Every summer that I have been at camp, I see the changes within the summer staff. The mode they interact with one another, the ability to better articulate their faith, the manners in which they teach and engage others, and their outlook on the world broadens are all effects of living with intentionality. Over time, the lessons become part of who they are and ultimately shape their abilities, paradigms, and desires. Many of them become camp directors, leaders of non-profits, active church members, and even ministers. But all of them become bearers of the gospel in a deeper, more personal way.
This coming summer, I am looking forward to seeing those eager to step up and serve as SALT (Summer Adult Leadership Team) workers and Camp Power Staff (non-programming behind the scenes workers). Each summer staff is unique and shapes the ministries and camping program at Slumber Falls Camp. If you are interested or know someone who desires to serve in either capacity, applications are already online under the summer camp heading. If you are not able, I encourage you to think about ways you can find these monastic like experiences in order to grow more profoundly, lover deeper, and engage with more passion.