Youth Peace Travel Team at Camp Mardela

Camp Mardela Quilt 2
Camp Mardela
July 14 -20, 2013

Unexpected. This word describes many of the experiences we’ve had on the Youth Peace Travel Team and the ways God works. Our week at Mardela wasn’t any different.

During our week, there were surprise blessings, such as Heather and Jacob surprising me with an “Appreciate Amanda Day” and a random dance party in the kitchen. There were also unexpected jobs, such as the day I had to help the kitchen staff chase a squirrel out of the dining hall with brooms, boxes, and air horns (don’t worry, the squirrel eventually returned to his tree safely!).

We also saw God work in unexpected ways. There were times when the campers didn’t seem to be listening. But then, during our biblical peacemaking session, they surprised us with enthusiastic participation in skits and songs. When campers shared what they had learned at camp at the Thursday night campfire, I was overjoyed when a majority of campers shared something they had learned at peace sessions.

We could also see God in the spirit of the campers. They enjoyed God’s creation while fishing and swimming. They showed the creating spirit God gives us by drawing and making bracelets. And they were joyful when we taught songs to them that we had learned at other camps.

There were ups and downs this week, but God blessed us and the campers. I think we all learned that we can expect the unexpected and God always has a plan for us.

YPTT at Camp Ithiel

July 7 – 15, 2013

A reflection on Camp Ithiel from Heather

Camp Ithiel.

Just another way of saying “God is with us.”

A little bit of harmony in the midst of city life.

A small group of Jr. Highers came to camp and tried to leave behind things from home as they discovered what it means to follow Jesus. We were part of a family at Camp Ithiel. We played “9 square in the air” and sang about how God makes beautiful things. We saw snake friends and marveled at the grey color that the lake turned when the rain fell.

We wondered,

Does an alligator really live in there, and when had we seen a brighter double rainbow?

Campers and staff learned about peace and being connected with one another.

Camp Ithiel.

The 2013 Youth Peace Travel Team visits Camp Bethel!

June 30 – July 5, 2013

“The Church isn’t the building, it’s the people.” Each camp we’ve visited has its own landmarks and specific charm, for sure, but the previous statement can certainly be applied to church camps. Our experience at Camp Bethel was augmented by the presence of an enthusiastic staff who put one hundred and ten percent into everything they did. If campers lacked energy or enthusiasm for an activity, their counselors were there to pick up the slack and refresh the campers’ spark. Even kitchen staff got in on the fun, creatively passing out ice cream bars via “Sheriff Twin Pop” and having everyone eat one of the dinners with unusual utensils (ladles, ice cream scoops, tongs…). A meal time which ended without a time for singing, jumping, and clapping did not exist at any point this week.
This group of campers participated and stayed attentive throughout our Peace Sessions every morning. They added a part of a massive “peace quilt” at the end of every session throughout the week to reflect that session’s theme (Conflict Transformation, Creation Peace, Biblical Peacemaking, Bullying, and Just Peace). Morning watches, vespers, and skit night all utilized the staff, counselors, and campers abilities to speak, act, sing, and reflect. Did we mention it poured rain every single day of camp this week? It took a lot of energy sometimes to make up for the weather and we’d like shout out to Katie and Maureen who did phenomenally as they organized and led the camp!

On another note, the 2013 YPTT crew has essentially transformed part of its downtime into a theological book club and here are some of the things we’ve been reading:

A Quaker Book of Wisdom – Robert Lawrence Smith
Biblical Peacemaking – Dale Brown
Velvet Elvis – Rob Bell
Jesus for President – Shane Claibourne
How Coffee Saved My Life: And Other Stories of Stumbling to Grace – Ellie Roscher
The Book of Psalms – Robert Alter
Love Wins – Rob Bell
The Middle Man – Dorothy Brandt Davis and Sara Elizabeth Davis
Enemy Pie – Derek Munson
Alexander Mack: A Man Who Rippled the Waters – Myrna Grove

YPTT at Camp Eder

YPTT at Camp Eder

June 16 – 27, 2013

God is everywhere, and he smiles a lot. I grew up knowing that God’s presence was all around me but I’ve never thought of it as I have this week. God is always present, and it is me that is arriving on the scene. I have felt that way this week at Camp Eder in Fairfield, PA. I understand my role as a part of Christ’s body better now and I feel that he loves me more than ever. Please enjoy my top ten reasons to return to Camp Eder.

10) To count how many toads I see. (I saw three on the first night!)

9) There is a camp dog! (Buddy, a beagle)

8) Laying under the shade tree with Jacob and campers in the ball field after a little hike up to that area or laying in the hammocks.

7) Playing beach ball beside the pool with the Junior Highers.

6) Daily practicing early morning Lectio Divina with my team members by the river.

5) Coming back from a peace walk in the orchard with Amanda and two campers, and getting drenched in Godkisses as cold
fat rain drops fall from the sky in an almost summer rain.

4) The skits that the campers performed when we asked them to enact peacemaking during our Biblical Peacemaking

3) Hearing campers explain to each other who Jesus is.

2) Painting a mural and explaining to campers that with all of their paint strokes together – they could only paint one thing on the mural. “We could make a beautiful thing” (a peace analogy).

1) Weeping by the campfire as we gave our old things to God and also gave God the permission to do new things in our lives. This reminded me why I wish to go into Outdoor Ministry.

Bonus: A camper had a birthday on Friday and the camp cook made her a cake (each table had a cake that day). What a display of love.

Making like Ghandi and peacin’ out,

Camp Shepherd’s Spring

This week we were at Shepherd’s Spring in Maryland. It was a busy time for us because we led three peace sessions per day everyday, but the campers enjoyed learning about peace and made goals for how they will be peacemakers when they return home. The campers were little kids (8-11 years old), and our patience was tried at times, but we loved teaching and spending time with them. Besides leading peace, we had fun swimming, worshiping, hiking, eating, canoeing, and playing four square with the campers and counselors. Shepherd’s Spring is a gorgeous camp, and we saw God do great things here in the staff’s loving care and the campers’ growth.