It’s September 1, and the beginning of fall is still three weeks away on the celestial calendar. Yet with schools starting, our summer programming nearing its completion, and the Labor Day Weekend looming before us, we have already begun to speak of summer as if it’s over. So what happened this summer?
Earlier this year we had eyed a July 1st start date for our sites. For the most part, that’s what we stuck to, though we did have a few who set out earlier and blazed a trail for the rest of our sites. Each site had to meet the challenges of hiring staff, acquiring the necessary supplies for increased cleaning and hygiene, getting those items delivered from companies who were dealing with their own shortage of staff, and from time to time we had to deal with the challenges of getting food delivered on time.
And yet, perhaps in part because of those challenges, we’re aware that the summer was filled with many good things. We have heard from several campers and parents about how this was the best summer camp event ever! Positive points cited were deeper conversations, clear expressions of care for everyone in the face of COVID, and staff who clearly love providing sacred space to all who come to our sites.
I have seen firsthand all the hard work happening across our ministry, and the way that our staff has stepped into this challenge with strength and grace to provide places where campers experience life-changing support through community, creation, and faith. Lest we think only our United Methodist and Episcopal campers experience this, I was in attendance for a Muslim youth camp held at Magruder in August and I can affirm that they experienced it, too!
And you, dear reader, have been a part of this experience of community, creation, and faith. You have engaged with this weekly epistle by sharing your experiences and stories through these months. You have provided support to this life-changing ministry through praying, donating, volunteering, and participating in events.
These nine weeks of July and August may have passed, but their impact on the lives of those who participated in this ministry will last a very long time.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
P.S. As of this writing, we have exactly zero reported cases of COVID transmission from our camp operations this summer!
*PHOTO: The end of summer signals huckleberry harvest! These ripe berries were seen at Camp Magruder (Todd Bartlett).
I have shared my photography with you and have struggled some with the idea of “taking” a photograph, a term that I do find better than “shooting photos.” But I recently read a meditation by Richard Rohr that gave me a new perspective on photography, and the idea that one “receives” an image rather than “takes” it. I think this insight may have greater application than only to photography. Here is the link to read the meditation for yourself. Let me know what you think. ~Todd
*PHOTO: This Great Blue Heron took off from its tree perch at Magruder while Todd was watching, and he was able to receive the gift of that image (Todd Bartlett).
Late summer brings us not only ripe huckleberries, but also red tomatoes, crunchy apples, and a rich variety of squash. Can we use Richard Rohr's insight about photography to help us receive the gifts of harvest, rather than take in the harvest? Interestingly, those of us in camp and retreat ministry rarely think about taking donations, but we are very much aware of the privilege of receiving donations. The great thing about donating to a cause that is meaningful to you is that there is a gift involved for both donor and recipient. When you give to camp and retreat ministry, you also receive the gift of knowing that you have made a difference. Like those sweet berries, the gifts of the harvest at the end of the summer camping season are available for all of us to savor, as we celebrate the work of the community in this life-transforming ministry.