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N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs are your homes on lakes

By Mark Boyd

Another N-Sid-Sen sunset by Mark Boyd.

A sunset graces the sky at your home on the lake, N-Sid-Sen.  Yes that’s correct, it’s your home on the lake: N-Sid-Sen.

All 267 acres, all the cabins, the lodges, the more than three miles of trails, the beach front, the gathering spaces, all of it.  It’s yours.

N-Sid-Sen belongs to all of us as surely as we are all part of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ.  Whether you reside in the mountains surrounding Metaline Falls or are surrounded by the waters of Puget Sound on Guemes Island, you have a home at N-Sid-Sen.  Although we are spread from Wallace, Idaho, to Cathlamet, Wash. from Bellingham to Lewiston, it is all part of the same.

In fact, we have two places to call ours:  N-Sid-Sen and Pilgrim Firs.

To share in, to worship together, to play together, to just be together and to listen.

This year at camp I spent time listening.

• Listening to the wind blow through the trees;

• Listening to the ravens harrass the eagles;

• Listening to the deer rustle in the underbrush hoping that we would not notice them;

• Listening to the conversations around the campfires after the songs had been sung;

• Listening to the shared laughter on the many porches;

• Listening to the wise advice given from rocking chairs.

pilgrimfirs camps

I listened to all the folks who came to visit us.

As I listened, I heard: “I went to camp expecting to make friends, but I ended up with family.”

Today with all that is happening in the world wouldn’t it be incredible if we could all live into that statement.

What would happen if we all looked at meeting new folks as gathering more friends around us, not just the mass of friends on Facebook that sometimes become like another collection, but friends that truly are part of our family, however we define family—friends with that deeper connection of a commonality.

Someone once said that if we truly knew someone’s story it would not be possible to hate them.  Isn’t that what family is really about?

Our family at camp has certainly been busy this year.

We have updated the downstairs bathrooms in Spirit Lodge, rebuilt the lakeside stairs on Stillwater porch, built and launched a new floating dock in the cove, put in a new sandbox in front of Forrestor lodge, built a lifeguard chair, moved the entrance sign so it can be seen more easily, purchased a new oven for the kitchen, added new curtains to some of the cabins and removed some dead and dying trees.

That is only the physical stuff we did.  As I listened to folks coming and going this year, I began to wonder, what allows strangers to become friends, to become family.

Is it in the slowing down and not worrying about having to plan meals, meetings, etc? Is it in the invitation of others to come swimming, canoeing, hiking, etc? Is it in the shared play of building a dock, sandbox, lifeguard chair? Is it in the knowledge that it is really OK to do nothing but nap and then nap some more? Yes it certainly is, and yet it is more.

In that more is where I struggle to find a name for it.

At our OMA-UCC (Outdoor Ministries Association of the United Church of Christ) gathering in October this question was presented.

How do we say what it is that we provide? At our Board of Directors and Council Meeting it came up again: How do we inform others of the passion we find in the UCC? 

As I pondered this I wondered what N-Sid-Sen provides beyond food, housing, site and program.

Three words kept coming to me: Breathe. Listen. Passion.

Breathe - We invite and encourage you to come to camp and breathe. When you step out of your car leave your worries and concerns in the trunk and lock it.  Take another breath and look around...

Listen - Take a moment to listen to all the new sounds around you at camp.  Don’t try to identify them, just listen to them with your ears, eyes and feet.  Then listen to yourself...

Passion - As you wander  and unload your mind, think about your passion, what keeps you going, what excites you, what topics compel you to jump in? Find someone to share your passion with.

Friendships started at camp can be separated by miles and months without losing any of their strength.


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News Copyright © December 2014



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