“I’m getting high! I am getting high!,” filled the silence on the campground. Between the shouts, giggles ensued as each moment passed, and the sounds of silliness and ecstasy reverberated around the camp. I was trying hard not to laugh at the situation as I imagined what a visitor might be thinking if they just arrived on the property. A few minutes before, the air was not filled with excitement, but of a small child not knowing how to make a swing work. Frustration and self-doubt seemed to drain the life out of my 3 year old’s face as he felt that his body did not have the power to make it go without help.
Knowing that my life would be easier if….er…. knowing that my son understood that he had the ability to learn new things and overcome obstacles would be a powerful mental model in helping him develop resiliency to challenges in life. So, I asked him if he wanted to learn how to tap into that power so he could swing on his own without any help. Not convinced at first I showed him some techniques and soon he was discovering that he could make the swing move little by little. While it was not instant gratification at first, he learned that repetition of the movement would start to produce higher and higher results on the swing. At one point I thought he was going to give up but he persisted until he was shouting about getting high.
I discovered a long time ago that much of life is about learning new things. Whether it is developing new skills, new understandings, or increasing knowledge about a particular topic, we have the ability to learn, adapt, and change. This summer was another incredible summer at Slumber Falls Camp. The theme was Creation Speaks, Are We Listening?. I watched new faces that have never been to camp experience the joy of being at Slumber Falls Camp, making new friends, reconnecting with other friends, playing silly games, having meaningful discussions in family groups, and sacred encounters during evening worship services. We did a large marketing push locally and had many new families participate in this summer and become part of our camp family. It was good to hear the laughter and see the excitement on the property as kids played games, sang songs, lead worship, created wonderful arts and crafts, and discovered aspects about themselves that they did not know was even possible before camp.
Camper comments and evaluations are one of the ways we continue to improve our ministries. In reviewing them, I am humbled at the scale of this ministry and the nuances that occur in a single week that would not be possible without our volunteers and summer staff. One camper commented that she felt that her relationship with God was becoming distant and camp helped her realize that it was always possible to fix it and “get back to normal.” Another camper said that the week help her realize that she could change aspects about herself and become a better person. One camper learned that it was ok to step out of his box more and try new things. The reports from camp were heartwarming to read, and while I wish some gave more than one word answers, it was good to see that they really wanted to come back next year.
Discovering the amazing world in which God has created and our abilities to engage it and enhance our own lives and communities, is life giving. Knowing that there are new skills and passions out there that await our discovery is exciting. How will these new experiences change the course of my life? How will my journey unfold knowing that I have a strong spiritual family encouraging and supporting me? How will me relationships transform as a result of the strong understanding and connection that I have with God?
I am always up for new adventures and discovering different ways of viewing the world around me. A few weeks ago, I went to Corpus Christi on vacation so my son could experience the Gulf of Mexico or “ocean” as he called it. I also was curious if I could learn the swashbuckling ways of a pirate like in Pirates of the Caribbean, but that dream only made it as far at Blackbeard’s restaurant. I have not given up on that childhood dream, and who knows what will present itself if my eyes and senses are open. I hope that everyone reading this knows experiences the joy of discovering new passions that enrichen our lives, gives us those highs in life and provide meaning to our relationships with others and all of God’s creation.
Blessings and peace as we transition from the summer months into the fall months. I hope that our paths cross soon if not at camp, at a retreat or work camp, or other event in the life of the church.