Hello Regular and New Readers,
For the next week, I’ll be writing about our experience at LYFE Camp, a camp ministry for teens that is one of the many programs offered by Camp Minnesota of the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. When teens return from camp, much of what they experienced can simply seem unexplainable, or received piecemeal, at best. It’s my hope this blog can help parents understand his or her teen’s experience when they arrive home. Perhaps this can serve as a jumping off point to listening to each other about your faith experiences. I encourage you to leave comments on each blog post (perhaps I can find a way to read them as virtual “letters from home”) and of couse, to pray for our physical, emotional, and spiritual safety and growth. I invite you, Dear Reader, to enjoy or endure as I chronicle our journey together this week.
LYFE Camp stands for “Live Your Faith Every day.” Each June for one week, teens from United Methodist Churches from across the state of Minnesota descend upon one of our Camp Minnesota sites (in our case, it’s been Koronis Ministries since 2012) for a time apart to learn about the loving God who created them, walking with the Christ who reconciles and redeems them, and feeling the Holy Spirit who sustains them on this journey. Oh, and they have plenty of fun along the way, too! We’ve have several weeks of LYFE Camp for many years but this year is the first in many in which we have one week of LYFE Camp. Through prayerful, thoughtful consideration, we have elected to merge all weeks into one for 2014. And so God has gathered us in, all 109 campers, Counselors-In-Training (CITs), Senior Counselors (SCs), a Chaplain, and my Co-Dean and me.
Today is counselor arrival day. We mostly caravanned as a large group or two and arrived here at Koronis this afternoon. After getting settled into our cabins, we split into vehicles to head out for supper in town and along the way each car had to write a new meal grace. Highlights included prayers based on songs like “Happy,” “I Don’t Care,” and “Let It Go.” We made a quick shopping trip for last-minute supplies and headed back to camp. It was excellent staff bonding time as 24 CITs and 18 SCs from two weeks melted together. The better we know each other, the better we can work with our campers!
Tonight we practiced new songs and a few old favorites we were a little dusty on (those verses of “Weave Me the Sunshine,” for example), worshiped together and went to Sanctuary (more on this later in the week), and prepared to lead our small groups. I can’t tell you how excited this group is for all of the campers to arrive tomorrow! This is an excellent group of counselors, some of whom work on camp nearly year-round and all of whom volunteer their time and talent for the week. If you have the opportunity to personally thank your teen’s counselors, please do so!
Personally, this is a special year for me at LYFE Camp. It’s my 20th anniversary here. I’ve been attending since 1994, when Pastor Norm required my two friends and I to attend a United Methodist camp for our confirmation program. Let me tell you, I sure didn’t want to go. But something special happened that week. Long story short, I’ve been back every year since, excluding a mandatory year off before I was eligible to become a Senior Counselor. This is my first year attending as a commissioned pastor and my last year attending with my current church, Excelsior UMC. For me, there is excitement and sadness that comes with such milestones.
Either way, with God’s help, it will be an excellent week.
Stay tuned, Dear Reader!
Just a few photos today of SCs and CITs sharing and listening to the new prayers they wrote tonight: