After years of dreaming about holding a “Family Camp” in our area, and finally collecting enough brave friends to take the plunge, 67 of us pulled off our first ever 3-day camp.
It was better than I had imagined it would be.
For years my husband and I have been longing to participate in a camp experience that included the parents and the children, but was more than just ‘tenting’. However, there was nothing remotely local to fill this desire.
One night, back in the winter, we took out a notebook and started to sketch out some ideas. (The ideas are always the fun part, because they take no commitment!) But, once we started talking about it, we realized why these things don’t just happen… it takes a lot of work and resources to get lift off.
But, we had friends who were in on the dream too; and with so many hands on deck this thing was ready to fly.
At the camp, we lived in a little ‘neighborhood’ of cabins, our front porches turned in to a central area where the kids played tetherball and blew bubbles together. We watched teenage young men horse around with wee ones, and gaggles of girls laugh as they walked together, and even more boys play pick-up soccer with their dads and sisters. We sat on the decks and chatted at all hours; it was old-fashioned and perfect.
We sang songs to Jesus and heard stories about his love. We ate together and played hard. We endured the chaos of a noisy dining hall and the inconvenience of rain. We got lots of bug bites and poor sleeps, but we enjoyed the campfires and the early morning pick-up soccer games covered in dew.
It was especially poignant to see the fathers able to spend lots of time with their children playing and talking, building in the sand, boating and eating, and praying and worshiping in the context of a community of other like-minded hearts.
A preacher recently pointed out that the Apostles presented one of the big benefits of becoming a Christian was ‘joining the body’ in this life i.e. being part of the deep-love-community of Christ. I confess, I have often thought of this as more of a trial than a benefit (all these people who I drive crazy, and who drive me crazy too – yikes!).
Yet, I have had an unquenchable hunger for this kind of broader connectivity; though have not found it in well-meaning programs or religious activity. This gospel kind of love-life is up close and personal, it’s organic and real and even messy and it can’t be tidily tucked into a church pew. This kind of life, I have found in my North American pocket of the world, is not easy to do.
As much as I desire closeness, I often feel more comfortable with distance and privacy and looking good from far off.
Yet, I saw this love in action this week, this profound ‘body life’, as fellow believers looked out for the needs of others (sharing toothpaste with the family that forgot theirs –ahem), children helped with the workload, and we got to experience each other at the ugly times of day (early morning puffy eyes!) and at the weary times of exhaustion as well.
And that great-big awesome fellowship extravaganza lit a fresh spark of hope, showing me that it is possible.
Love is bigger than our isolation and it will not let us be satisfied in our tidy pockets of comfort; we were made for faith-life together, that often looks like a mess and feels like sand in your sleeping bag, but is actually the stuff of heart-knit and passion-life.
I believe there’s more to come and it’s bigger and better than we ever imagined; it’s more than just a camp experience, it’s meant to be every day.
And I believe that Jesus is taking us there.