The sun is shining through the tall trees today at Camp Valaqua near Water Valley, Alta., and the a hint of spring is in the air. This time of year brings hiring, planning and anticipation into our little corner of the camp world. Sometimes it is tough to keep track of why we work at this all year long and so I tell myself stories to remember. Here is one of my favourites:
A few years ago in the middle of a challenging week a camper tromped up to me with a confident look on her face and announced, “I know you.”
“I know you, too,” I replied, to which the challenge came: “How?”
“Well,” I stalled a bit. “I know you came here on a field trip in Grade 3 and I helped your mom register you, so I know your name and address. I know you lots of ways.”
That seemed to settle it for the time being, but soon the challenge came again and I had to expand my answer. The game grew, as games tend to do, and soon I had a cabin full of campers whom I had to “know” and who knew me. As the week ground on—some weeks grind, some weeks fly, this one was the grinding type—this game of knowing began to capture me. I found I was so happy to be known myself that it was no wonder these campers wanted so badly to be known.
How we crave to be known. I sat with my Bible late that week reading Psalm 139 and thinking about just how much, and just how important it is, that I am known: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth” (Psalm 139:13-15).
I hope the kids who were here that week felt that knowing, and that love, and that those who come this summer and the summer after that and the decade after that, will feel the same.
I can’t wait for summer. There are so many kids to get to know.
Jon Olfert is director of Camp Valaqua.
Other Focus on Camping stories:
Camp farm program invites delight in God’s creation
The beauty in difference
Peace Camp 2016 was a huge success!
A front-row seat
A special faith-based community
Silver Lake takes steps to deepen faith formation