Wow! We’ve already finished our second camp! This past week we were on the beautiful Eastern Shore at Camp Mardela working with their Tweens Camp! It was such a joy to be with this age group; they were so ready to learn more about the Bible and accept Jesus as their Savior. Their questions amazed us, and our one-on-one conversations with campers and counselors created deep connections. Once again, it was hard to leave such an amazing camp at the end of the week. We all truly feel blessed to have visited such a beautiful place.
Our past week at Camp Mardela has touched my heart. I entered the week cautious about being able to relate to children at such a different part of their journey than me. Not that I had low expectations for these kids, I just haven’t had the chance to interact with people that age in quite a while. I have become quite comfortable in my own young adult settings. And what do you know, leadership at camp Mardela continually stressed the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone!! I was absolutely blown away by the children’s ability to participate in creating and interacting in a safe space. Our just peace session offered some space for conversation about war. After hearing from a variety of campers and hearing a variety of comments, I felt full with the Spirit. Even though some opinions may differ, we are all children of God. We offered our stances in love and listened with grace. The children at Camp Mardela taught me more than I had to teach them this week.
Hello again, fellow peace enthusiasts!
I cannot believe what an awesome week we’ve just had. A few times during the week, Mardela felt like something out of a movie – like when the giant bell rang for dinner, or when Chief Geita told jokes or announcements over the loud-speaker. It was a little surreal, but SO much fun. Not only was it fun, but we had such a meaningful experience. The leadership and counselors at Mardela were phenomenal, and I loved watching these staff connect so closely with the campers as well as each other. It was only one week, but still such amazing bonds were formed. My favorite part of the week was when our director, Laura, led the entire group during Thursday worship in telling each other something we gained at camp that week. I saw so many kids open up that night, and the Spirit was surely moving. The campers gained new friends, courage, new experiences, and closer relationships with God. I think I gained another home away from home! Mardela, and Inspiration Hills too, now both hold such a special place in my heart. I can’t wait to have more groups and places to fall in love with this summer. I’m sure this will be a recurring theme in the following weeks, but as Winnie the Pooh said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
Until next time!
There are not enough words to express my appreciation and connection I feel to this camp. From the moment we were picked up at the airport, we were greeted with willing arms to show us to the wondrous Eastern Shore and saw the sunset over the bay. The next day we began to meet the staff. Some opened up quickly to us and others took a day or two to share conversation and jokes, but by Tuesday I felt a deep connection to a few of the staff their and started to have fun with them. On Tuesday, I was having a conversation with one member who truly inspired me. To preface, I have always been a fairly driven athlete. But there are always days when I know I have not worked as hard as I could and I know I could do better. This staff member was discussing his hardship of not being able to work out anymore after the loss of a limb. Later in the week, he shared his story about his recovery in connection to his drive he got from his military experience in his ability to recover from this loss. These motivational speeches, in his eyes may not have meant to motivate, but have really pushed me to keep my work ethic in check. I cannot remember all the reasons why but I felt like most of Thursday and Friday I was crying more often than not, hearing campers open up about what they want to change in the world/their families/themselves, seeing the staff become more of family (with us included), and witnessing these children’s faith grow. I cannot thank Camp Mardela enough for the time and space we had to share and for allowing us to be a part of their family for the week. It was truly a blessing.
Peace, Love, and Camp Mardela
This past week was a time of great spiritual growth and nourishment for me. As all those who know me will tell you, I struggle with change. Warming up to new places, people, and ideas sometimes just takes me a little time. This summer is full of change as each state has a different environment, each district its own theological language, and each camper their own story. As part of our interpersonal conflict resolution workshop, we consider Matthew 18:15-20. We discuss how to talk to each other in love, by acknowledging the feelings and needs of each other as we seek to work through our conflicts. This week verse 20 really stuck out to me. From the New International Version it reads, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” At so many points, I really felt the presence of the Spirit as we gathered with campers and staff. As we worshiped around the campfire we were witness to the life struggles and faith journeys of all. As we discussed what is “just,” we joined as active participants in the discernment of how we live out faith, shaping the world in the process. This recognition of the God here in our interactions not only led me to connect powerfully with the campers and staff at Mardela, but also challenges me to reconsider my approach to change this summer. I hope over the coming weeks when entering a new place to remember the presence of God in each interaction, thus viewing the God in the change. Finally, I also want to especially thank Laura, the director for the week, as through her strong love and determination to bring Christ to those around her, she provided for me an example of how to live that I will not forget. This summer we have had the opportunity to meet and work with many strong passionate women in the church, and each one has empowered and challenged me in incredible ways and for that I am grateful.