Learning why

February 8, 2024 | Focus on Camps | Volume 28 Issue 3
Camp Valaqua |
Camp Valaqua. Photo by Jon Olfert.

When campers first roll down our narrow road into the tall, tall trees, they are usually thinking about themselves: Will I have fun? Will I be scared?

When they return, they often begin to think about the people that surround them: Who will be my counsellor? Will the kids in my cabin be nice?

When they grow into staff roles, they begin thinking about the groups of kids they are looking after: Will my cabin group get along? Will they have fun?

When, eventually, they step into leadership roles they begin thinking about a portion of the camp community: Will the camp wide games work? Will the counsellor-in-training group learn from this devotional? Will this be the right amount of challenge for this out-trip group?

When, even more eventually, they step into a director role, they begin reflecting on the church more broadly: Will these lessons go home with them? Will the staffers take on leadership in their churches?

I have long called this process “turning the corner,” and I look for it each summer in our young staff—that moment when they level up and look at camp from another perspective. It’s the difference of knowing how to do a J-stroke with a canoe paddle and why we teach J-strokes at camp. Every camper and staffer go through a period of how. How do I hit the target at archery? How do I get to the top of the climbing wall? But figuring out the why is deeper work.

Learning why is the big project. Fun is always part of the answer, but just the first part. Fun is the medium through which we steward growth.

We grow in all sorts of ways at camp. Sometimes we grow physically, reaching new heights on the climbing wall or finally hitting the bullseye at the archery range. Sometimes we grow spiritually, getting a glimpse of God’s love in the world.

Sometimes we grow together, sharing a moment in the thin place we create as we worship together around a campfire. At camp, we grow in self-understanding, in relation to one another and in relationship with God. Self, Community, God.

We hope you will come and learn why with us.

Whether you are learning how to hold the canoe paddle or contemplating the meaning of a climbing wall, come grow with us. Join a summer camp community for a week, for a summer, or for life. We are always welcoming new campers, staff and volunteers. 

Camp Valaqua. Photo by Jon Olfert.

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