Reflections on Camp LaVerne

Eight weeks ago at Ministry Summer Service orientation Mary Jo Flory-Stuery reminded us that no matter where we go this summer, a ministry is already present and working there. There are many ministries at Camp La Verne, but I believe one of the most important is Capture the Flag. Despite the competitiveness, Capture the Flag was a blessing to me and the entire camp. As I was jokingly trying to intimidate the other team or encouraging my own team, I grew closer to campers, more so that I did even at meal times or campfires. Whether someone was watching the game, guarding the jail, or making a mad dash for the flag, relationships were built and made stronger. The game brought me closer to nature (I have the scratches to prove it), closer to the campers, and closer to God. Capture the Flag as a ministry at Camp La Verne bring everyone laughter, joy, excitement, and friendship.

Camp La Verne! Returning to a home camp after a long hiatus is like watching your favorite television show after it has been off the air for years. The memories start flooding in and you cannot help that little smile that slowly starts spreading across your face. The sights are familiar, the smells are familiar, and the people are wonderfully familiar. It is camp! It is home! Returning to Camp La Verne was an amazing treat for me. I remembered the wonderful summer weeks that I spent there. The little hike up and down that steep hill to the kitchen three times a day, going back to the basics and trekking up the mountain to sleep under the stars, and the great campfire talent/skit show where we can go on and on for hours! I loved being able to experience this wonderful week with the Junior and Senior High youth. The directors always have such an awesome time planned and I loved being able to relive those moments with new people and fresh faces to Camp La Verne. I loved showing my team my home camp and taking part in camp history in a whole new way – as a teacher of Peace. It was an incredible week and I am so glad we were able to be there. Thank you to campers, counselors, and directors alike for opening your arms and hearts and letting us in and welcoming us home! Kiyikiyikus, nobody like us! We are the kids from Camp La Verne!

If you desire more toned and defined muscles, visit Camp La Verne. We did some heavy leg-work this week through hiking and extreme games of capture the flag. These activities, for me, were great opportunities to bond with the campers. Getting to know them, laughing together, sweating together, walking together, singing together, etc., all helped make that connection I needed to be called their friend. On day one we took a hike to watch a beautiful sunset. It was gorgeous. As time passed us by, the rays of the sun slowly began hiding off behind the mountains, and the moon arose as we hiked back to camp. One of many memorable moments this week was when we led our peace workshops with the Senior High campers. They engaged and responded with what was on their hearts, answering: who they think are marginalized (left out, forgotten about) in their communities and daily lives, why they thought peace is important, and why loving our neighbors is a form of peacemaking. In our last workshop with this group we even received questions that went way beyond what we were expecting, like, “How can some Christians read the Bible but come out with an interpretation in support of war?” The campers were thinking – thinking big. Overall, I enjoyed myself this week!

One of the highlights of the week for me was the opportunity to go on an overnight hike. This was something I had never experienced before, so I approached it with a bit of apprehension, but it turned out to be a wonderful time. It was definitely the part of the week where we bonded most with the campers. We hiked about 2 miles out into the forest and set up camp in a large clearing. We cooked dinner, played a few games of capture the flag, then slept out under the stars (which were incredible!). The next morning we woke up, cooked breakfast, played a few more games of capture the flag, then hiked back to camp. It was a great experience that allowed us to experience God in a new way and get to know each other a little better.

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