What do your kids do during the summer? What did you do for the summers when you were a kid? Some of my fondest memories of my childhood summers are connected to Guide Camp. For my son and daughters, many summer memories will be tied up with weeks at Camp Geddie. For around twenty years now our summer plans have been built around camp dates and costs.
I remember sleeping in bell tents on wooden platforms and brailling up the sides during the day to air them out, kitchen duty and helping the leader make porridge for breakfast, dish water that was so hot it would almost take your skin right off, licorice for tuck, polar dip, campfire and more. At our church camp the girls sleep on bunk beds in cabins, eat in the Irwin Lodge, canoe, hike, swim, worship, and of course have campfires on the beach. Most of all we spend time with other young people, some friends when we arrive, some we make after we get there.
What is it that makes summer camp so special? Is it the amazing scenery, the activities, the food (no, that can’t be it), time away from home? Those are all great features. We may learn a lot about ourselves and others at camp, we may learn new skills, try challenges we would normally be afraid to try. At a Guide or Scout camp the kids learn about cooking on fires, repairing tents, making knots, fending for themselves in the woods, and camp crafts. At a church camp we will hear God’s word in a different setting and with extra time to reflect and new people with whom to discuss things.
I think the real value comes in the unplanned moments. When it is raining for the third day in a row and everyone just runs out in the rain to play anyway. The moment when you first notice the sunrise. That moment just after the final song at the end of campfire as everyone sits in silence for a moment looking at the dying flames before heading to bed. Those are the moments in which your spirits are refreshed and if you listen carefully you can hear God’s whisper of reassurance and love.