Greetings! This past week we had an amazing time at Camp Ithiel in fellowship with Junior High Camp! We were able to refresh from the hot sun with a trip to Twisty Treat with some of the support staff. Again, we were amazed by the youth’s insights during our justice workshops. It was awesome to have a session with each small group and dive deep into our curriculum.
This past week at Camp Ithiel was a blast – full of love-filled conversations about faith, enthusiastic singing, and lots of sun! Because the majority of the campers and staff at Ithiel are not members of the Church of the Brethren, I was less accustomed to the spiritual practices and theological language used. Although I am often quick to share my own thoughts and opinions, this week I spent deliberately practicing open listening. It saddens me to think how easily I could have missed the many blessings that were shared with me this week. The counselors, staff, and campers modeled for me a core element of spirituality that I had no idea I was completely ignoring: surrender. In songs, they lifted their hand over their heads in surrender to the powerful emotion of sharing together in worship and the presence of the spirit in that place. In prayer, they would surrender their tongues to a fervent plea for grace for those with whom they stood. When playing camp games, they would surrender themselves to the joy and laughter of the moment, running full-tilt. Individuals modeled the importance of surrender as they told stories of their own faith journeys during which they placed all faith in God and continued on, often in a new unexpected direction. Now I would say that I am an absolute novice in the area of surrender, but boy did this family in faith inspire me to give it more practice. I hope to practice being more present and surrender myself to my emotions during worship. I also hope to quiet my own thought more often to surrender myself to the wisdom of those around me.
Blessings and peace,
What a wonderful week once again! Camp Ithiel is such a beautiful camp; it was so hard to leave! This week I was amazed by the depth of the youth’s faith, and by how much they yearned to grow deeper in their connection with Christ. Also, the connections being made with counselors and staff are still awesome. They push me to think deeper about my faith, my choices, and my journey. I was really able to open up – even though it typically is a challenge for me.
The campers this week were so awesomely energetic, and they were able to share their energy with me. They shared stories of their lives so gratefully and truly opened up to us. Finally, I appreciated the time I spent with them outside of our sessions, hearing about what life is like in hot and humid Florida, and learning a little bit of Creole.
Peace, Love, and Palm Trees,
Hey y’all! One more superb week has passed us by, and I have to say, I’m more than a little sad to leave. Despite the heat, Camp Ithiel was so much fun. My week was only slightly interrupted with some illness, but the campers and staff brought so much prayer and compassion to me during it. I was beyond humbled to experience their love for me, even when they had only known me a few days.
My favorite part of the week was our last session, which ended up being an open-ended “ask and talk” hour. Some of our most meaningful conversations seem to happen during the unstructured times, and I’m so grateful for those moments. In addition to our sessions, another favorite part of my time there was when YPTT got to take a short adventure to the beach! I’m a sucker for the ocean and I loved having some fun family time with the team.
The campers this week were so joyful and energetic, and the staff were incredibly engaged with their campers. Ithiel’s staff had so many gifts, and I continually saw encouragement and inspiration flowing through these counselors to the children. I was again humbled by their confidence and faith in God as He was at work in them and through them.
Although I can’t wait to experience the Iowa weather compared to Florida, leaving Ithiel wasn’t easy. I was able to take with me some jokes, songs, encouragement, and I think a little sand, too (whoops!).
We have just finished our week at Camp Ithiel. Returning to Camp Ithiel means a lot to me personally. My Brethren Volunteer Service orientation was held there January of 2015. A lot has happened for me since then. Also, Florida in January and Florida in July are vastly different experiences. Anyway, in some ways returning to this camp felt like home for me. This is where my Brethren journey really took off. As much as I loved my orientation at Camp Ithiel, it was awesome to experience the space in a whole new way. One of the themes from the camp curriculum is “Together, the courage to show up.” Being on Peace Team and running around constantly makes showing up mentally at times very challenging. This week specifically I had the opportunity to not only push myself physically to show up despite the heat, but to show up spiritually and mentally for worships theologically different from my own practices. Both of these I have some trouble with. But as I reflected on why it is challenging to listen to those who share different practices of similar ideas, the importance of such action has been heavy on my heart. As children of God, I think we all believe in the same basic ideas. One is not right and one is not wrong. One is not better and one is not worse. Actively loving your neighbor means to actively listen. And even if there are barriers that keep us from being active, whether it is the heat or our own personal walls, we are called to not just tolerate, but to love our neighbors. We should listen and learn from our brothers and sisters in God.
Peace, blessings and patience,