At Camp

Tomorrow morning I will drive out to a country cemetery to celebrate the life of a woman who died a few months ago. Her family wanted to wait for their summer friends to return, because being “at camp,” as they say here in Maine, was an enormous part of their life. These little plots of land and the humble summer homes built on them have been part of the lives of many of the older people in my church. They are thankful their parents or grandparents spent the money all those years ago that make possible special family times away from the pressures of the work world. They rejoice in being at the lake, whichever lake it is, where their grandchildren and now great-grandchildren are not jacked in to the matrix of modern living.

No ordinary working person could easily afford to buy these properties now, and that magnifies their thankfulness.

When I was young, my parents sent my to Fairly Posh Summer Camp for girls in the hills of West Virginia.

Oh, the hills, beautiful hills, How I love those West Virginia hills!
If o’er sea o’er land I roam, Still I’ll think of happy home,
And my friends among the West Virginia hills.

I remember how it felt to leave the busy Washington suburbs behind and ride on a bus full of girls many hours into the mountains. We stood on the shore of the river and waited for the little barge to come and deliver us to camp. And we looked up into the hills surrounding us, the hills covered with beautiful green trees, the hills off which the sounds of thunder would surely bounce during some night at camp, the beautiful hills.

We all need to get away and be in places of beauty. They clear our heads and open our hearts.

Here in Maine, the United Church of Christ has Summer Camp on a Lake, which just celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Princess and #2 Son will each spend a week there in July. It’s a very different place than Fairly Posh Summer Camp. They don’t offer tennis and archery and rifle. But there is swimming and canoeing and arts-and-crafts and other activities dependent on who the volunteer counselors are from one week to the next. The Princess will be there for a week focusing on peacemaking, for young people entering 5th, 6th and 7th grade. #2 Son is going to Sr. High week, led by a dear friend and colleague and his wife. The theme revolves around the lyrics of Libby Roderick’s song, “How Could Anyone.”

How could anyone ever tell you
You were anything less than beautiful?
How could anyone ever tell you
You were less than whole?
How could anyone fail to notice
That your loving is a miracle?
How deeply you’re connected to my soul.

#2 Son Spirit Quest
(#2 Son at camp last summer)

Camp for me was a place of competition, a place of disappointment, a struggle to fit in and succeed. My last year as a camper, I was the only girl in my tent not to win an award, and I went home feeling a failure. Six years there, six summers, and I had not been recognized as being special in any way. It really hurt. I don’t know if I was looking for the wrong things, or just going to the wrong kind of camp.

When I look back now, I try to remember the beauty of the hills, the feeling of paddling my canoe on the Greenbrier, the fun of being in the plays in the old wooden hall, the beautiful sounds of our singing in the hollow of the hills.

And I am thankful for Summer Camp on a Lake, where my two will hear the loons at night, worship on the lakeshore, bring their mission money to support the Back Bay Mission and hear and see and feel how much they are loved by God and what that calls them to be and do in God’s world.

2 thoughts on “At Camp”

  1. I attended church camps as a girl where competition was getting a seat away from our counselor at meals. As a college student, I worked at posh NC camp and didn’t like the competition there. Pushed academically all school year then pushed to WIN!!! at camp seemed wrong.
    LD will go off to Episcopal Camp if I have to shove her out the door. EC gave Coast kids scholarships this year but I wasn’t able to get her into the week she wanted. Now she doesn’t want to go.
    I want to go to Songbird Camp where coffee drinking and hanging around in bathrobes are legitimate activities. We can sing songs, too, and have a campfire with s’mores after a day of doing nothing but talk and laugh.
    Any other RGBP want to sign up???

  2. And. . . and . . . and LAST weekend was that wonderful UCC church’s Women in the Wild weekend and I recommend it to any women! Lots of peace and laughter. I’m hoping next year to add a knitting service component, too!

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