I Can See Canada From Here

This past week I was at a High School camp at Dunkirk Camp and Conference Center in Dunkirk, New York. This is a beautiful camp on a cliff overlooking Lake Erie. The sunsets are some of the most beautiful that I have ever seen and at night you can look over the lake and see lights shining from Canada. That was a new experience for me because I have never stood in one country and be able to see another that close.

This camp had tons of campers which was really nice to see. They all had such kind hearts and had a real interest in social justice issues. They had two times almost every day in which they could sign up for things to do. One of those times was the normal interest group time in which the campers picked some fun things to do. In other camps this is normally the time that I would do my workshops but I didn’t at this camp. The other time that the campers got to sign up to do something was called issue groups. This was the time my workshops were placed. I stood to the side watching campers sign up for my workshop with excitement. I have never had this many people in a workshop that they had to sign up for and it made me so happy. I had anywhere from 15 to 20 campers in my workshops. The other issue groups also talked about about so really important things such as relationships, college, and the relationship between science and religion just to name a few.

During the week I lead three different workshops within the issue group time. The first one that I did was the LGBTQ+ one that I have been doing at all the other camps. The second one I modified my poverty simulation to fit within the time. This workshop was written to be a full camp activity to explore class and help understand what people in poverty have to deal with. I was really excited about this workshop because it is the first time I got to do it this summer. The last workshop that I lead was the one on bullying that I have done with some of the younger kids in Arizona but I did modify it a bit so that it was more age appropriate for these campers. All of the workshops went really well. All of the campers were very active in the conversation and were bringing up such amazing points. The conversation got so deep in the LGBTQ+ one that I didn’t even have time to get through some points that I was able to make in the previous times I have run it.

There were two days that the issue group time was taken up by an activities that the whole camp participated in. The first one was giving back to the camp by working on projects on the ground that needs to be done such as painting and weeding. The other full group thing was a talk about drugs which I think that is really important for this age group. The way that they did it, I think, really reached the campers. The way that the talk was done was that the teenagers fighting their drug addiction shared their stories and answered questions. These are people that are their age and that the campers can relate to. I think that both of these are important to let them grow into healthy adults.

This camp was a lot of fun and were very big into skits. They had one night that they were given a story, a genre, a prop, and a character that has to be included. The skits were so funny and it got the campers to meet people they might not have known before. Then for the talent show each Planet Group (family group) had to create a skit to preform in the talent show. At this camp the talent show is the biggest event at the camp and everyone really get into it. One of the skits was literally giving out awards to each cabin and to each counselor. I got the best dancer award which I find a little funny because I am not a good dancer but I did teach them a energizer which might be the reason I got that. All the kids also had a wonderful time at the dance. I loved what they do to close the dance which is that everyone sways within a circle to piano man. The campers are in the outer circle and in the counselors are in the inner circle. About half way through the song the graduates are brought into the middle of the inner circle as a way of honoring them. I thought that this was a touching and wonderful thing to do. My favorite interest group that I joined was the making fairy houses in the woods. The houses were so cute and I think would be great for other camps to do on some hiking trails.

One of the most meaningful moments in camp was when we hiked down down to the beach on the lake. We had a wonderful worship down there where we wrote down something we were struggling with onto a rock and then we threw it into the lake. Another meaningful moment was the senior worship which was focused on hope, I am pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the place. I also found that my planet group was meaningful because we had a lot of really deep conversations. We had activities planned but didn’t use them because our conversations, which is the important part, were just going so well. The campers had some really good insight that I learned a lot from. This camp was a joy to be at and I loved being welcomed into this community like I have been there for years.


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