There is a special kind of magic that seems to hang in the air at youth camp.

Unlike many of the cultural rhythms of their everyday life, campers aren’t geared incessantly towards productivity and perfection and management about what comes next. One meaningful change that ushers in this sacred space comes as youth turn in their phones at the start of the week for a ‘digital sabbath.’ Passport co-founder Colleen Burroughs told me that despite a few moments of grumbling, campers are actually grateful for the invitation to disconnect. As phones are laid down, so too is their anxiety and constant thrum of fear that accompanies our endless news cycle and social media connectivity. (Would that we all follow their lead from time to time!)

What rhythms inform camp instead are ones of worship and fellowship, of deep engagement and leadership, of taking seriously the lives of teenagers as those who carry the witness of Christ in the world. Away from daily life and pressures and screens, campers begin to soften into God. They lean into one another. They play with exhilarating abandon. They worship honestly. They laugh and run and annoy each other like siblings and trust what God is doing in their midst. They awaken to the sacred invitation that beckons them persistently to ‘love more and fear less.’

It has been such a delight to see this magic up close this week for a few days with our remarkable group. Ray has made friends with practically everyone on campus. Hannah led in worship and was named Honor Camper for the 5th year in a row. Elizabeth has been a constant helper and danced her heart out last night. Ella has been making us all laugh, particularly as she and Hailey played ‘Name That Tune’ while gargling water in front of an auditorium-full of youth. Hailey has showed courage and resolve. Nathan ran the kickball game with a bunch of older kids at the Nicholtown Community Center yesterday and spent all afternoon playing ultimate frisbee with a field full of youth. Micah poured into his work site: scrubbing, painting, cleaning, and disinfecting a woman’s home in great need. Max has offered beautiful leadership for the group, with quiet strength and meaningful openness. Kim, Chris, and Brent have each guided the group with both clarity and whimsy, donning their best 60s costumes, dancing the ‘Waka Waka,’ and telling joke after joke. We even FaceTimed Isabelle while out for milkshakes!

Clear and present, that magic is everywhere we turn, ever-present as Spirit who binds us in love. 

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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