Stargazing: Memories From Girls Camp


"This is wonder. This is worship."

– by Elisa Dorman

It was the perfect summer night for stargazing in the middle of girls week. The maples carve shadows from the velvety moonlight at the edge of the field. Sparklers illuminate the girls’ faces with frolicking yellow and orange. Some girls jump and dance, squealing and laughing, jousting and running. Others hold this stick of crackling, uncontrolled flickers with a reverent stillness amidst the buzzing oasis of light, etched into the settling darkness.

The sparks simmer and fade and girls gather with friends on the hillside, creating clusters of whisperers laying sprawled, some hand-in-hand, whisked by the damp grass and the evening cool. The foreground stars glimmer and an unfathomable blanket of speckles and shimmers is revealed in the background as pupils widen, drawn out by darkness and awe.

“Woah ho,” a little girl gasps. Others laugh and chatter.
“This is the best.”
“I wish my brother were here, he has this telescope that he got from… wow did you see that shooting…”
“Yeeeee!” Excited voices of new friends blend together.

This is wonder. This is worship. This is holy ground where revelation twinkles by way of the stars and wonder shines mystically, as the crescent moon.

“Have you ever thought about where the universe ends?” The girls hear and, having slid onto their backs, are silent for a minute or two. Their breath sounds seem surprisingly close compared to the endless sky. Wonder wells up with an exhilarating fear of the Lord. Somehow there is peace too. Does His mighty hand reach to the depths of this sky?

United by our humble, fragile presence, we behold. Behold the depths of darkness and silence. Behold the ribbons of diamonds caressing the universe we don’t understand. I’ve heard it said that there is darkness like that of a grave and there is darkness like that of a seed, and I can’t help but think we are planted in this moment. That these little ones, in the company of friends, have been captivated by a sense of awe that will worm through the soil-darkness and one day break through into an expanse of light – that the reverence birthed on this surreal August hill will catalyze a quest for truth.

There are few things that I love more than watching an 11-year-old’s mind get blown at thoughts of the vastness of our world, the greatness of our God or the wonder of their own little, beautiful life. I too am still overwhelmed. This is why camp is amazing.

“Time for bed, ladies,” a cabin leader stirs the campers, now curled up across the grass. They shuffle, taking last looks and making satisfied sighs or smiling at their buddies, knowing something precious has been shared. They walk and run into their cabins and onto their bunks. The dull roar of happy, sleepy girls fades into scattered hushes until there is just a sweet silence left under the stars.

Elisa Dorman is the Program Director at InterVarsity Circle Square Ranch Big Clear Lake. She studied International Development at the University of Ottawa before coming to the Ranch in 2016. She is passionate about outdoor adventure, Jesus, friends, church, justice and of course, summer camp!

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