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Campers report breakthrough experiences

Camp directors reported that campers experienced “breakthroughs” as they used of the National Council of Churches’ curriculum with the theme, “Breakthrough.”

Junior high campers learn to play guitar

At Pilgrim Firs, camps—except kids camp—were up in attendance, said Deeg Nelson, managing director.   With 65 campers, junior high camp had the most in recent years.

“The presence of 12 youth who had not been to camp before changed the dynamic at the camp, calling the repeat campers to be more intentional about being welcoming,” he said.

Mark Boyd, that camp’s director, said one girl’s breakthrough leaving with many friends, was contrary to her expectations when she first arrived.

“We mixed the youth in different groups and drew anyone sitting on the fringes into activities,” he said.  “Older campers also were mentors to the new campers.”

Mark, who leads junior and senior high youth at United Churches of Olympia, said enjoys the junior high age because they are “testing their wings” and “pushing themselves and us with challenging questions.”

mark boyd
Mark Boyd joins Pilgrim Firs staff.

At the end of August, Mark came on staff at Pilgrim Firs as full-time maintenance supervisor. He brings skills from work with utility and construction firms. He and Deeg are currently checking each cabin to be sure it is up to par.

Planning to assist in the leadership of family camp, Susan and David Morris of Fauntleroy UCC in Seattle agreed 10 days beforehand to direct the camp when they learned that Rick and Jennifer Russell of Eastgate UCC in Bellevue were unable to direct it because of Jennifer’s health.

“It was a profound experience of the Holy Spirit working overtime through gifts of a covenant community,” said Susan. “We pieced together the camp with the help of Deeg and participants.”

Susan had planned the adult morning program, so they recruited others to reflect on the theme, while holding “our dear friends, the Russells, in our hearts,” she said.  

“We created a Family Camp of about 35 folks—ages four to 90 years—who sang, studied, crafted, recreated, played, prayed and cared for one another in compassionate, faithful ways.  We left grateful for this ‘jewel’ of an intergenerational camping experience that embraced families of many configurations,” Susan said. 

“We held the Russells closeby creating a mural of favorite Pilgrim Firs sights, and experiences and by sending notes and  prayers of love.”

It was a “breakthrough” for Susan to realize “we don’t have to manage or plan every detail of an event, but can trust in the Holy Spirit and gift of community.”

N-Sid-Sen camps were also creative, spirited experiences that brought alive the theme, “Breakthrough.”

Bob Watrous of Shalom UCC in Richland used his theatre props skills to create a brick wall.  As part of intermediate camp, the children broke through the brick wall.  On the bricks were names of things that hold people back.

Senior high aqua camp on St. Joe River

John and Mary Lu Hubbe also of Shalom in Richland, appreciated gathering senior high aqua campers at the new Stillwater welcome lodge, and then sending campers in groups to their cabins.

Mary Lu led campers in using the labyrinth in the floor of the lodge, encouraging them to consider new ways of praying—being grateful for the experience at camp, reflecting on troubles at homes, thinking of a phrase while walking through the labyrinth to build inner peace.

Some danced in the labyrinth, some wore prayer shawls, said Mary Lu, director, counselor or nurse at various camps for 19 years.

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Copyright © September 2009 - Pacific Northwest United Church of Christ Conference News


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