Thank you, John Smoke for teaching my son to be still—together.
This past week was summer camp for the children of Downers Grove First UMC. It is the fourth time Howie and my boys participated since Howie joined the staff. Going to camp that first time three years ago was a grace for our family as my sons, immediately welcomed, genuinely became and felt a part of the community.
On Thursday, I finally visited Wesley Woods camp for the day. It was a holy experience to witness not only the beauty of the campground nestled along the lake, but also be present to the movement of camp. You see, the camp is designed to enrich and train and build community, be a space outside of time and away from routines and worries, technology and expectations.
And everyone is involved: the young campers are placed in groups that cabin with and are led by a Counselor-In-Training (8th and 9th graders), senior high Counselor or other adult. So, when I came to visit, I first observed Howie leading a group of kids in singing songs that physically move them and songs that speak from the Bible. Next I ran into Lysander who is now a Counselor caring for the younger kids—and how beautiful to witness his compassion for these little ones, and how they love his long, unruly hair and attention on them! Next, I found Clark doing crafts, encouraged by an adult volunteer, the parent of a CIT.
And John, coordinating it all—after a storm ripped through the night before that terrified the kids and kept the counselors up until the wee hours of the night. Still, John tells me how he breaks out the Tibetan singing bowl each morning and each night to guide the whole camp community into stillness, into awareness of God’s presence, together. And I could see it in every person – the young and not-so-young – all had such joy and peace about them. How lovely to be in their presence.
I am grateful to these parents and pastors and teenagers and camp staff—all who conspire to make time and space for this holy moment this week. My family will always carry the experience of camp week, and I pray they have the privilege of taking part in that sacred moment for many years to come!