Is on in just a few hours. Tune in now!
Or try to find it at www.logoonline.com.
I'm off to TNP camp tomorrow!
Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd
Is on in just a few hours. Tune in now!
For someone who prides himself on being very organized, I'm not dealing with today like that at all. I keep lurching from one task to another. Part of it is that I'm trying to coordinate several different schedules and agendas at the same time.
I'm a bit overwhelmed today. We are on the brink of beginning the TNP camp for this year. I have one of the counselors from out of town staying at my house this weekend. I still need to pack and prepare for the week ahead. Tomorrow we will train all our staff and then go and watch Camp Out on Logo (did I mention that you could as well? Yes, OK then...). Campers arrive on Sunday.
This week is my last "normal" week of the summer. Essentially, from here on out, I'm gone somewhere. Next week is the TNP Camp. The week after is the ELCA Churchwide Assembly. Just a few days after that, my family is taking a trip to Alaska. Each of these things are brining their own stress.
I left my parent’s home on Sunday to head to the camp where I worked. I’ve been talking about this quite a bit lately, but the week finally came where I was going to be volunteering with a week of Fine Arts Camp. The Fine Arts program was set up by some friends of mine, who were also former staff at this camp.
For those of you who are not Lutheran (and for those of you who don’t realize this), I should explain that Lutherans have a thing for camping. We have a huge camping network throughout the
Anyway, I was returning for the first substantial visit since I had stopped working there in 1999. I had been there for a half of a day on a few occasions, but I was never there long enough to participate in any of the programs. There were several reasons for this. First, by the time I stopped working at the camps, I was a bit burned out. Camping is a very high-energy job. You are “on” for about 22 hours per day. By the end of the summer, you get very tired. After four summers, I had given all I could. Another reason was that I wanted to be respectful of those who were doing my job after me. I didn’t want to be one of those former program coordinators who criticizes his successors.
I was invited to be a part of this week along with about a dozen other volunteers. At one point, it looked like we might outnumber the kids! In the end, there were 20 kids, three counselors, and us volunteers. We all have very small job descriptions. I helped with some drama and movement exercises in the afternoon each day, but other than that, I really didn’t have a lot of responsibility. It was the same way for many of the other volunteers. We would spend days being calm. We would watch and participate in the other activities, while trying not to be too intrusive.
I think the most difficult part for me is the urge to evaluate. I’m a program person, so I am constantly seeing what is good and what could be improved. I may be biased, but I think that we did quite well as a staff. I had heard from friends who went after I did that the staff has not always been so stellar since I left. The energy level was low. They were there for their own personal relationship with Jesus, instead of helping foster the faith of the campers. This made me leery about just sitting and watching a bad campfire or a bad worship.
However, I have to say, this staff was stellar! The program staff was excellent! They taught songs better than I have ever seen them taught (even from when I worked there). The camp was cleaner than I had seen it for a long time. They were also tireless. They spent late nights working on the next day or the next week. They wanted to write up song cards for many of the more “wordy” songs. When we wanted to teach some songs as a part of the drama component, they immediately started singing it at worship and at campfire. I was very impressed.
I decided that since I couldn’t stop evaluating, that I must share my findings. Often, working at a camp is a rather thankless job. I wanted to make sure that this staff knew that they were doing wonderful work to present a cohesive message of God’s call in our lives.
The program coordinator (the position I once held) grew up at camp, quite literally. Her father was the site manager during most of her childhood and youth. I think her love of the place and of the people she encountered there motivated her to work as hard as she could to make it a faithful place for others.
I have a goal to write letters to this staff to let them know that I think they are doing good work. They need to hear this so they do not burn out, as I did. Being a summer camp staff member doesn’t fit well into a cost/benefit analysis. I’m hoping that my encouragement will help to make their summer worth all the effort they are putting into this place and this ministry.
For many people, me included, camp is what the Celtics would call a “thin place” where our mundane lives on earth and the glory of God are incredibly close. I’m glad to have the opportunity to continue to contribute to the ongoing ministry of my camp.
I’ll end with our camp cheer:
It’s great to be alive in God’s great north woods!
I like to think of myself of an urbanite. I now dwell in a metropolitan area. I like being in the city. However, I still enjoy the weekends at home with my parents. Their house has become a sort of retreat center for me. I grew up 15 miles from the nearest town, and five miles from the nearest phone line. Our location is great for things like picking blueberries that grow wild on a rock ridge, or in some recent logging activity.
Of course, there is another aspect of small town life. Our town hosts a district fair. It’s not quite the county fair, but it’s a pretty big deal. During my weekend at my parents, it was the fair weekend. I haven’t been to the fair since I was in high school. The fair is something that takes a bit of commitment from everyone in the community. My father drove in his ’55 Ford Crown
Eventually, my parents decided that I could remember enough to join in. Of course, I wasn’t dressed like the rest of the square dancers. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. All the other men were wearing jeans and country shirts, usually matching their wives. I was probably 25 years younger than the next youngest dance (which I believe was my mother). I can remember your basic moves, like your do-si-do and your allemande left. But sometimes there was some move that I hadn’t ever heard of, or I couldn’t pull it out of my long term memory fast enough to execute the move.
The other dancers didn’t seem to mind much at all. They all asked me if I would be joining the local square dancing club. When I informed them that I didn’t like in our small town anymore, they told me that I could probably find a club in
After the dancing was over, my parents had signed up for a shift working at the church food booth. The booth was more of a mini-restaurant, with a very limited menu. When they got there, they discovered how short-staffed they were. I ended up volunteering for the rest of the evening. After picking blueberries all morning (in a hunched over position), I spent the afternoon hunched over a counter, taking food orders.
Whoever said that you can’t go back obviously never came from a small town. It was as if I hadn’t left. Of course, I don’t want to move back to our small town. But it was nice to visit my childhood days again (without all the awkwardness of puberty!).
I am at my parents house for the weekend. It's always a relaxing time with them. Their house (the house where I grew up) is waaaay out in the woods. We live 15 miles out of our tiny town, and it is in the woods.
A few months ago, we bought these drink mixes at Costco. We got piña colada mix and strawberry daiquiri mix. Yum. Anyway, we put them away and forgot about them for quite a while. You see, we tend to be wine drinkers. Usually, the most hard liquor we have is vodka, which we attempt to mix with everything. And since these two drink mixes require something OTHER than vodka, we didn't have a lot of opportunity to use them.
It's been a while since I've talked about Camp Out, the documentary film created about The Naming Project Summer Camp. After all the showings last summer and fall, it's been pretty quiet. However...all that's about to change!
I understand that the above statement is not that rare of an assertion. Many of us were camp counselors for a stint in high school or college. For about 10 years, people have been throwing around the statistic that 75% of ELCA church leaders got their ministry "start" in camping ministry. Since I am a churchy person and many of my friends are pastors or church leaders, many of us have had some experience with a camp.
I've been gushing on and off about our Community Supported Agriculture farm share. I think it's time to gush a little more.
There is certainly a lot going on in the ELCA. It's time ripe with angst.