Quiet Springtime at Camp?
June 2, 2020
Because I live on site, I occassionally walk through the Ranch building looking for a tool or helping finish off perishable food leftover from retreats long ago. As the building gets warm and humid it’s easy to remember the way that the Ranch normally looks in spring and summer. I imagine spring crew staff laughing on the couches before morning devotions, the piles of backpacks from school groups, the smell of pizza bagels on Tuesdays, the whir of the overloaded printer through the office window. Then I imagine the endless bustle of shouting, messily eating campers during meals. Sweaty, beautiful staff filling their coffees and running off to the barn. The stressful moments between skits when I run around the dining hall with a clipboard confirming “can you drive sleeping bags to treeforts?” “your camper switched to biking,” “don’t forget you’re teaching tomorrow…”
Or I think of Andrew pounding away on his computer during the lull of third period activities. Of the comradery during the 7.5 minute year round staff meeting we squeezed in between when Anne called a parent back and when I went to comfort a kid who was devastated by a broken flip flop.
Or I recall the sound of loud, echo-y worship during rained-out campfires, thunder rolling in the distance, the hastily set-up projector glitching, mopping a puddle below the window at the back left that always leaks. Kids are packed together on benches, some wide-eyed. Some of them will realize they are profoundly loved that night, some will feel a powerful hope they didn’t know before, some will realize they can make a difference in this world. I mop up the puddle and pray that the little girl with tears coming through closed eyes and a massive smile on her face will never be the same.
I love the holy chaos of it all.
Holy because it’s this magical place to be twelve and feel free, because the Holy Spirit gets eye to eye with kids and captivates them, because 16 year olds defy every stereotype and step up in leadership and wisdom. Because every hour I get to put my hands on someone’s tired shoulders and pray. Because we adjust saddle stirrups and launder sleeping bags and teach way out of our comfort zone and wash so many melamine plates in hope that the kingdom of God will break forth – and it does!
Chaos because… well… 130 kids… 40 teenagers… an unruly groundhog population… 1 gigantic building that looks like a fake town… you really have to experience it for yourself.
But the dining hall is empty now. It will be for the foreseeable future. Camp is cancelled. In fact we are renovating the floor so even the furniture is gone. I stand there alone. I hear birds singing. I hear the gentle whooshing of my own heartbeat.
I remember and imagine.
The stillness persists.
Is it haunting or are tweeting sparrows just the sound of sabbath?
Without chaos, will the holiness be the same?
What are you up to, Lord?
What are we going to do next?
When I think of the campers and summer staff and all the beautiful transformation that normally happens at summer camp, it seems like a loss for the kingdom of God. However, I truly believe that God is up to something right now and I pray it is more fruitful than summer camps normalcy. The year round staff have mixed feelings as we know a summer of camp is lost but are cherishing a relatively restful season.
We don’t know what will happen in months to come. The only income for the Ranch has been donations and selling manure and a few horses. A huge majority of our business happens in May – September. We have scarce obvious opportunities for ministry. We are trying to make wise decisions. We know that God sees this place and each of us and that He will offer direction and provision on many fronts.
If you’d like to pray. Pray for direction for our year-round team, provision for the Ranch to make it through the pandemic financially, for the summer staff who lost their jobs to have other life-giving opportunities and for the campers to be sustained in their faith and built up as they stay home.
We hope you are well and pray your homes are filled with hope!
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