Making Memories and Sharing Faith!
My granddaughter and I went to church camp at Templed Hills last month. Natalie is nine and this was her first time at church camp, or to any overnight camp, for that matter. When I was young, church camp was a standard part of the summer routine beginning around third grade. And church camp was in addition to attending church and Sunday school nearly every week and participating in numerous other church activities throughout the year. There are a few young people today with similar experiences, but many more are like Natalie where exposure to faith is much more random, so I was curious at what she would think of church camp.
We had an amazing time! One gauge is that Natalie definitely wants to go back next year and wants us to bring her twin brothers who will be eight next summer. The three of them are excited, and who knows, my husband may even decide he needs to come along!
We made so many memories. One of the most surprising and rewarding was the first night when we spent time in our room before bed comparing the words used in our different translations of the Bible, talking about why they were different and how it could affect our understanding. Then there was all of the fun, outdoor stuff: hiking up South High for the sunrise, daily swim time, fishing on the pond, shooting off bottle rockets, and a long hike when we were (almost) lost. And other memories of singing silly songs with sillier motions after meals and vespers around the campfire each night. So many memories!
Watching the various grandkids – most of whom didn’t know each other before camp – was enjoyable in and of itself. The first morning at swim tests gave me an idea of how well they would get along. In order to go in the deep end, each kid needed to swim across the pool and back, one at a time under the supervision of the life guard. While these young people had just met the previous afternoon, they still showed tremendous support for each other. “You can do it, Sam!” “It’s just a little farther – keep it up!” “Way to go, Natalie!” The shouts of encouragement began with the first swimmer and picked up anytime a swimmer looked a little fatigued. As each one finished, he or she joined the others at the end of the pool, clapping and urging the next swimmers on.
And who knew that it could be so much fun to be a “hopper” at mealtime, responsible for setting the table, bringing food, and cleaning up! I wonder if any of that enthusiasm made it back home with them?
Whenever there was a request for volunteers, the hands shot up! The grandkids (and grandparents, too, to be fair) read scriptures, helped with the liturgies during vespers, acted in skits, and signed up for the talent show. Perhaps we had an especially good group of grandkids, but I can’t help thinking that somehow camp brought out the best in them.
If you’re already feeling like you missed out on all the fun, there is still one more camp this year. Labor Day Family Camp is scheduled for September 1-3. Click HERE for information. It’s also not too early to start planning for next summer. If you’re a grandparent with one or more grandchildren who will be ages 4-12 next summer, I encourage you to watch for the 2019 schedule and plan to come along. There’s also a “Me and My Pal” camp for other adult/child pairings – parent/child, aunt or uncle with niece or nephew, and so on. There are plenty of other choices for young people to come to Templed Hills on their own, too. I promise you that it will be an experience that campers of all ages won’t soon forget!
Blessings and peace,
Moderator, Ohio Conference