Just this last weekend, I and three other chaperones took students to Rock On overnight camp along with 300 other 3rd-5th grade students in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. This is our second year at Camp Glisson in the fall located in beautiful Dahlonega, Georgia.
We ate together. Table life around a huge table over Lucky Charms and the biggest cinnamon buns on the planet. Because we ate, we also served one another and cleaned up together. There was something for the pickiest eater and the students who eat anything as we ate family style, passing plates, pouring, spooning, etc.
We played together. The lake excursion was the favorite of the trip, by far. The teams were separated so well that our students were able to do their ‘special’ more than once. No waiting in line to maybe get one ride. Multiple zipline rides, multiple jumps from the landings, multiple swings on the high swing (so that if you only went halfway the first time, you were going all the way to the top every time afterwards.). Lots of videos and still shots were sent home to parents.
We worshipped and danced together. From sitting in the back by the fans on Friday night to serving communion in the center of the room by Sunday morning. Sacred spaces all over campus kept us on the lookout everywhere we walked. Man, did we walk. Good thing I wore my Fitbit this time!
We prayed together. Young adults who know Camp Glisson like the back of their hands escorted and presented a prayer walk all over campus. We truly got a tour of the sacred spaces and followed in the footsteps of all who had gone before us.
The first aid kit I kept in my backpack was used once by another church’s leaders to help with a spider bite, so bring the Benadryl. We were always with other students from other churches so we met new friends and recognized old ones. Conversations before breakfast over the coffee/tea table with colleagues I only knew through Facebook were precious, indeed. Watching a college student serve as one of our chaperones was both hilarious and surprisingly effective. Rev. Debby Fox and the Connection Ministries team were aware of the developmental needs of this age group and Chuck Bell is a very gifted worship leader who engaged the students beyond singing. Our students participated in conversations with our ‘stage’ leaders because these leaders were all over the place all weekend, were completely accessible, and started conversations with my kids all weekend long. So glad that the music didn’t ring our ears and students were in bed early. And I can’t thank enough the partnering churches who shared our cabins and rotations who’s chaperones made their presence known so our kids felt like their kids, too. One big family.
Away at camp builds relationships…memories…kindnesses…connections with other churches…independence…conversations…and a desire to come back to a place where we can stay with God, grow with God, and go with God.
“The Lord is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer…my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2