On Thursday, we had our talent show with the junior high youth at camp. I always really like talent show, even though it means a late night, because by this point of camp, the audience is the best. They receive the gifts as they are intended, not judged on their perfection. And the perfection, really for me, is in the spirit in which they are shared. To see a shy young man that I’ve seen coming to camp for 3 years now get up in front of his peers and lead a song while girls dance behind him is amazing. Then there are the shockingly wonderful God-given gifts that many of our campers bring – singing, playing instruments, creating origami, dancing, and acting just to name a few.
My favorite part of the night was the emcee crew. This team of youth entertained their peers by spoofing directors and senior counselors. The young woman who played me was so funny. She had sunglasses on her head, her hair in a ponytail, the first aid kit on her shoulder, and often greeted the campers with “May the Lord be with you!” And, in the team’s quest for the holy chicken, she was the one who captured it. I couldn’t help but heckle at one point, calling out from the back, “I need a band-aid!”
Another great part of camp has been the worship. All week we’ve had amazing worship, with many campers sharing testimony about the struggles in their lives and the place of God and community in helping them through it. On Thursday we had our call to discipleship service. We don’t do it on the last night, intentionally, because usually emotions are already high as campers realize that they’re going to be going home soon, leaving behind some of the magic of camp.
So there we are at vesper point, hearing amazing testimony and then we were asked to say yes to God, for the first time or to recommit ourselves to being God’s people in the world. The senior counselors created a ring around the worship space, inviting campers to come to them for prayer as they shared their decisions. It was a beautiful way to be church. That should be us all the time – a community of faith encouraging one another, praying with and for one another, and looking toward how we can impact the world.
Tonight was also wonderful. To address the high level of sadness that often goes with the last night, we decided to really celebrate communion. An SC and I had noted that we use those words to describe what we’re doing, but the energy is low as we approach the table. We confuse reverence with being somber. So we decorated the altar and benches with streamers and balloons and, during communion, had the same SCs who had prayed with and for our campers ring the space with sparklers and bubbles. It was amazing. We expressed what we were grateful for before we all joined in the great thanksgiving. It was a wondrous way to close our week worshipfully.
Tomorrow we send our campers home. We send them back to the joys and struggles of everyday life. And, after hearing their hurts, sharing their dreams, and drawing near to our God together, I will continue to pray for them.