Camp for a Week, Friends for Life!

Halloween Greetings

I love the fall. I am not sure if it’s because we’re finally getting out of the summer heat or if there’s something in the air as rains start to come back. Halloween is especially fun in our house with decorations for a festive change of environment.  My son is particularly excited about Halloween this year. He enjoys trick-or-treating, getting candy, eating candy, and dressing up.  He has been eyeing a dragon costume in his closet for over a year that he is finally big enough to wear. We are looking forward to a fun Sunday and seeing the creative costumes and excitement that this Holiday brings.

Autumn also brings an emphasis on relationships and communities. Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Advent & Christmas offer wonderful opportunities for celebrations. Schools also have their own events for gatherings. Football, cheerleading, drill teams, and bands bring families into the stands and bring our communities together. I have also enjoyed being in New Braunfels where Dia de los Muertos has more of a presence than other places I have lived. This holiday is also called Day of the Dead and many of its traditions originated in Mexico where it was a time to remember and honor those that have come before us but are still celebrated as part of our families. Disney explored this holiday in the animated film Coco. The movie centered on a young boy who did not value the importance of the holiday until he underwent a journey in the land of the dead and connected to his ancestors. The stories shared and connections made during his journey brought a sacredness to how he saw his family and friends and the importance of community.

As Christians we celebrate All Saint’s Day on November 1st where we remember those who have come before us, embodied the gospel, and shaped the world around them in life giving ways. As a result of remembering them, their ministries, and how they lived out the gospel, we have role models from our community that can still serve as guides, a model for self-examination, and the potential we have to answer our callings.

During the Fall Work Camp, we planted a tree and remembered so many of the saints which have been a part of the Slumber Falls Camp community over the years. Their passions, energies and visions have shaped these ministries that have transformed countless number of lives. The property, camp programs, and values are a reflection of their love, generosity, and selflessness to supporting this living ministry that transforms people, renews spirits, and champions the sacredness and calling of healthy, authentic communities. Their stories are still being shared at camp as well as some of their contributions.  From stargazing with Skipper to tales of Old Man River and songs that ring true from the 50s and 60s to today, campers not only have fun, they learn the joy of being a part of a community that strives to be a reflection of what God calls humanity to become.  Remembering is important as we examine our ministries today and look to our future so that we do not lose sight of why God has called us into this sacred ministry.

We are organizing our archives and collecting stories and memories from camps, church retreats, and other events at SFC. If you feel called to write down your fondest memories, record a video of them or how SFC affected your life, or making copies of pictures and handouts from your time at camp, we would love to have a copy of them.  Hard copies or digital files are great.  We also have thousands of slides from the 1960s and ’70s in our archive that we are wanting to transition into digital format. If you would like to help out with this project, we would love to have your assistance. This project is as simple as inserting a slide into a viewer, clicking a button to capture the picture, and repeating this process over and over and over again. It is a great way to relieve camp, see the changes of camp, and see how much has remained the same.

Who we are and where we have come from are important to us as we look toward the future. We have plans to expand our ministries and engage the community, but I do not want to do it in a manner where we forget our identity and calling. Outdoor ministries have played a critical role in the life of our churches, our conference and our families over the years, and summer camps are growing nationally. Slumber Falls Camp is a gem in our conference and offers a ministry experience unlike any other that I have been a part of in Texas or the south. For many who find Slumber Falls Camp, it is the highlight of their year and touchstone in their lives when times get rough or challenging. It is also the welcoming door to many people to understanding who the United Church of Christ is and how we function as one Body of Christ despite different ways in which our ministry’s manifest within our congregations. We are a community that cares for one another.

I hope that you have a fantastic Halloween if you are out and about.  Be safe.  I hope that you also are aware of the joy that celebrations bring for our families and our community as you watch others trick-or-treat.  Holidays remind us of the goodness of others, importance of community, and instill these values in the next generation.  For those of you focusing on the end of the year and making contributions to worthy causes, I ask that you consider supporting Slumber Falls Camp as one of your charities and encourage others who may not know about us to take a leap of faith and give to this incredible ministry. We want you to be a part of our camp family and journey with us as we live out God’s calling. God is alive and love is here, and we will continue championing the gospel message for many years to come. I cannot wait until we are back in person as a whole community so that we can share hugs and stories in person.