Desert to Sand Hills

Hey Y’all

These past two weeks I have been to the camps in both Arizona and Nebraska. The two camps could not have been anymore different from each other but they were both very moving and spiritual in their own way. Something that they both had in common is how compassionate and caring everyone involved was about camp. I had some really good and deep discussions with the campers and I believe that they have really learned something from the experience. I really enjoyed my time at both of these camps and would recommend going to anyone.

Arizona was a triple camp in the Desert Mountains. Being from Virginia, I had never seen the desert before so this was a whole new experience environment wise for me. However me being from Virginia, I have grown up with triple camps so that part was familiar. For those who do not know, a triple camp has all three age groups (Elementary- High). They do have some separations between the ages but they are all there on the grounds together. There were some differences between a Virginia triple and an Arizona triple but those were easy adjustments for me.

Since I was at a triple camp, I ended up being a floater between all three age groups. It was nice being able to see how each of these groups functions and get to know a wide range of campers. It challenged me to make sure that my workshops could also be done with a younger crowd and not just with the High Schoolers that I will be working with for most of the summer. I think this is important for my first camp because it made me think even deeper in what I wanted to do with the campers. I did a workshop on bullying with the CCF (Elementary) and Chi Rho (Middle) groups that went really well. They learned not to bully someone especially because they are different from you. They also learned to stand up for others and themselves even when it can be scary. With the CYF (High) I ended up doing one interest group workshop having to do with the LGBTQ+ community and what it means to be an ally, as well as another that had to do with making encouragement rocks. I also did two of the keynotes for this group, one on standing up and the other on doing justice. With all three of these things, I feel like they got a lot out of it.

There were a lot of really fun moments at the Arizona camp. One of my favorite things was that I got to be Ms. Whatamess for the CCF and give them the results of the cabin inspections. I got to dress up in a crazy costume and try to convince them that it wasn’t actually me the whole week. I loved being able to join each group for their evening activities. I loved being a part of the scavenger hunts, messy games, and much more. All the vespers were moving and I loved to see the growth in the campers throughout the week as they became a community and strengthen their connection with God.

Nebraska was a CYF camp located in the sand hills by a lovely river and lagoon. Unlike the camp in Arizona which was a DOC camp, this camp was both DOC and UCC. The main difference I found in regards to that is the amount of times that I had communion during the week, but other than that it functioned very similarly to other camps I have been to. In this camp I was in a cabin as well as a leader in a family group which helped me really connect with these campers and know the things that they are going through. These campers, just like the ones in Arizona are amazing individuals who can really think deeply about the topics spading a wide range. During the week I did my interest group about the LGBTQ+ community and had really deep discussion on this topic. The insight that these campers shared in the discussions was absolutely wonderful. I was able to do this with the majority of the campers in this camp and I feel like they all got something out of it. Throughout the week, it felt like I could not even go a moment without seeing some sort of growth and understanding from this group. It was moving to be able to be a part of this spiritual place. In a way it was also a bit magical feeling because during vespers every night, we would be surrounded by more fireflies than I have ever seen at one time in my life. I could really feel God there.

I had some new experiences at this camp, one of which was going tanking. For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t before this week), tanking is when you ride in a cow tank down a river. A cow tank kind of looks like a bit of a deeper kiddie pool with benches for sitting built in for the riders. I had so much fun doing this and laughed the whole way with the people I was riding with. We also went to a fort together, so I was able to learn a bit of history while I was there. One of my favorite things was the bag skits. During this the campers select bags that they have no idea what is in it and they have to create and preform a skit. They are also able to bid on special items that they can also use. I laughed so much while watching the skits. The money raised from the auction and various other things throughout the week went to Hurricane relief in Puerto Rico. This camp is one of the most mission focused camps that I have ever seen and it warms my heart.

This camp loves doing tie dye and I enjoyed joining right in. The community that was formed is very tight and loving, no one was ever left out. I enjoyed being able to teach them new games and energizers that they have never seen. I enjoyed this camp so much. The connections I formed at both of these camps will last a lifetime. I am looking forward to many more camps like these during the summer.



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