At the start of this summer, I was most nervous about coming to a new camp every week and fitting myself into their tight-knit community. The camps thus far have graciously and lovingly welcomed me into their “family” and made me feel right at home. It has been no different at Camp Christian in Ohio. This camp has been running for over 75 years, with thousands of campers, staff, and counselors experiencing God’s beauty over many generations.
This year, however, marks a period of transition. After this summer, the camp system is changing its organizational layout that has been in place for decades, consolidating some camps, and renaming many of the camps for several different reasons. As with all change, there is a sense of apprehension and grief. Understandably, many of the people who have grown up loving this camp are uncertain and scared of the changes, not aware of what might happen. I have spent much of my time here in observation, learning the situation and history as best I can.
On the last night of camp, there is a special worship service called Consecration, which is planned by the campers and delves a little deeper spiritually than the rest of the week’s worship services. Last week’s Consecration included a special service in which the camp community could say goodbye to Hiram conference as they have known it, and welcome a new tradition and style of camp.
The overall message of the service, and the phrase printed on our nametags, “Take Fire, Not Ashes”, comes from a quote by Jean Jaures: “Take from the altars of the past the fire – not the ashes.”
This quote really struck me. It reminds me that the spirit of God, which we can view as a fire of love and compassion for us, is more powerful than any ashes which may be left behind. Though this was my first time visiting this camp, and I didn’t have the same emotional experience as the rest of the community, there have been many times in my life when I believed that there were only ashes and no fire. Having recently graduated college, I experienced a lot of sadness because I didn’t know when I would see some of my closest friends again. I spent four years at Chapman making a home and creating community – to not have that anymore seems devastating. This quote inspires me to take with me the best out of every situation and remember that my good experiences will carry
over into the new places in my new, exciting, and shifting path of life. I am so thankful for the community at Camp Christian who welcomed me with open arms and look forward to my second week of CYF conference here!