With this issue we begin Round Seven of our series related to the camping curriculum, Creation Speaks, which we have been using for our programming in 2022. We take our time with these stories and listen to many camp and retreat perspectives so that we can hear anew what God is saying to the people. Today we explore again the image of Light and theses texts: Genesis 1:1-5 and John 8:12.
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Genesis 1:1-5, English Standard Version)
12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)
We all know someone who is a “light” in our life and in the lives of others…. someone who brightens up a room, lifts the mood wherever they are, and leaves a path of light behind them. Through the 2022 Effective Camp survey (see article below), we discovered that 98% of our campers last summer reported that they enjoyed their counselor--that's a lot of light shining in the lives of others!
We can all shine that bright if we turn up the flame of God’s spirit in our lives. It is accessible by all, but like an adjustable lantern, the flame can be turned up or down depending on what we choose. It is our choice. Coming to camp can help “re-light” that flame!
For many, being at camp is the brightest time of their year. It is a chance to slow down and feel God’s light and love in every place at camp. For many, it is the only time they can see stars, breathe mountain air, be offline, and be themselves.
In this year’s curriculum, Creation Speaks, campers discover Jesus as God’s light in the world. One of the many special gifts of participating in camp and retreat ministry is the variety of ways we get to hear God’s voice. Campers hear through nature, through staff and volunteers, and through art, music, prayer, serving, playing, and using all of their senses.
One example from the camp curriculum of how campers might learn about “light” is trying to play Rock, Paper, Scissors in a dark space. The experience creates both laughter and frustration at the ridiculousness of the task. But by lighting just one candle and repeating the activity and then repeating with increased light, campers learn the difference just one little light can make and how it transforms the experience.
Campers learn how bringing just one little light to someone’s life can make a huge difference!
The message of God’s hope, light, and love, experienced at camps and retreats, truly changes lives.
Co-Director, Wallowa Lake Camp
*PHOTO: A statistic in the initial report on Oregon-Idaho's Camp & Retreat Ministry from the "Effective Camp" Survey conducted in the summer of 2022.
During the summer of 2022 we joined with other United Methodist Camp and Retreat Ministries to survey campers about their experience at camp. The participants were 11 to 19-year-olds who participated in our program events. They were given a survey at the beginning of the week and another at the end of the week. We have the initial results from these two surveys. The campers also received a survey three months after their camp experience to see what longer-term impact camp has on their lives. The follow-up survey results are still being tabulated.
What we can tell you from our camper surveys is that the campers who participated in the surveys attended events at Sawtooth, Suttle Lake, and Magruder. Of these campers, 50% identified as United Methodist, and 78% identified as white. Both numbers are lower than the national numbers. In Oregon-Idaho, 91% strongly agreed that they “felt supported and happy at camp.” When asked what they enjoyed most about their week at camp, respondents totaled their experience this way: cabin counselor/group leader 98%; the whole camp experience 93%; spending time in nature 90%; other campers in my group 87%. We also had 90% of campers indicate that they “would love to attend this camp in the future.”
We are pleased with the very positive responses to these surveys and we will look for ways to improve our camp and retreat ministry events in the coming year. We are still reviewing the surveys from the parents and will share some of the facts from that survey next week.
*PHOTO: Yes, those are the brand-new solar panels at Wallowa Lake!! (David Lovegren)
Here are five simple yet effective ideas for shining God's light into the world: