This year’s Amazing Journey Day Camp was different in many ways from our previous camps but many of the same elements were still there. St. Luke, Victoria, and Lutheran Church of the Cross started holding the day camps in 2012 St. George, Cadboro Bay joined in several years ago. This year’s camp was our 10th day camp and it was held outside at St. George.
Being outside worked well in this pandemic time and gave a real feel of “camp” to the week. The group leaders and campers put up their tents each day and enjoyed “tent time” to start off the day. The theme this year was “Beyond our Backyard” and the camp was all about camping and being outdoors. We focused on caring for the earth and what it means to plant God’s love and watch it grow.
There were different areas at the camp including a campfire circle (but no fire!) to hear the parable of the sower; a potting shed where campers built planter boxes and filled them with vegetable starters, herb plants and edible flowers; and a nature house for crafts and other activities including seed art, tieing knots and learning First Aid.
In reflecting on the role of the camp in the lives of our campers and volunteers, one of the strengths of the camp is that we draw campers and volunteers from three churches as well as from the wider community. The day camp includes youth whom we might not see on a Sunday morning in church, but who participate in other programs at the three churches such as “Fantastic Fridays” (a Messy Church evening held at St. Luke) and youth group programs, as well as those in the community who saw the camp advertised and decided to register.
In addition to being a camp experience for school-aged youth, it was a camp experience in a difference sense for the eight teens who helped as small group leaders and assisted in various areas of the camp. While we chose to register less campers this year than in previous years due to COVID-19 precautions (22 campers attended while in other years we had close to 50 campers attend), the same camp feelings of enjoying each other’s company, trying new activities and feeling God’s presence were there as they have been at the day camps each year.
Here Leslie Flynn, a member of the Amazing Journey planning team, shares her reflections on the camp experience:
The theology of children is something that we can all learn from. Although kids may not call playing, singing, crafting or spending time together theology, this is how I see it. As I watched the children of camp respond to the parable of the seed story with looks of wonderment, confusion, intrigue and sometimes criticism, I wondered if this is how the followers of Jesus reacted when they first heard this story.
As I sat in groups of kids and teenagers from over seven different parishes as they ate together, learned together and had fun together, I wondered if God is calling us all to live into a community like this. As I spent many hours outdoors, like a child with bumped knees and wasp stings (there were a few!), I found myself laughing, staring up at the sky, getting dirty and asking God how I am called to best take care of this blessed creation and work toward reconciliation with the people whose land it is. I have been in a classroom studying theology for the past year and to me day camp is practical theology lived in the chaotic energy, joy, fun and messiness of children.