- Ben Ward
Community, Camp, & The Relationships Which Bind
Well, what a summer it’s been already! We’re just about half-way through and true to form its been quite the whirlwind! Currently I’m working remotely from a coffee shop in Grass Valley, while our discipleship program called, SURF team, is out on a five-day backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains. While we’re a long way from Redwood Glen, this trip has been made a possibility by the generous support of our sister camp here in Nevada City-Camp Del Oro. It is certainly a beautiful place, Redwoods are replaced by Ponderosa Pines, and Black Oaks in place of Coast Live Oaks. Many things are the same though, the sound of shuffling chairs early in the morning, happy birthday songs at breakfast, a Red-shouldered Hawk vocalizing kiyai, kiyai, kiyai, kiyai!! somewhere in the nearby woods. I am deeply grateful for the chance to base out of Del Oro, and I am also grateful for the genial relationship between TSA camps. At the heart of this connection though are the human relationships which are born and cultivated at camp. Our director Ed, and Del Oro’s director Bob, are old friends who years ago both worked at Redwood Glen running the wilderness program, and as I think over my own last five years at camp, I am encouraged by the wonderful people who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with. Some of these people have become my closest friends, helping each other to grow and supporting each other through the ups and downs of life. When a person comes to work at camp, he or she is instantly assimilated into a culture and community of caring, unified in the pursuit of a common goal. For us and for many camps, that common is goal sharing the message of the Gospel with children who need to meet Jesus. While our community certainly isn’t perfect, individuals the world over have the opportunity to merge our values, cultures, customs and habits in order serve our future generations and instill an understanding of God and of positive lifeways. Under the banner of this common goal, a beautiful thing happens. A relationship, built on the foundation of Christ, holistically builds between campers and staff, campers and campers, staff to staff, staff to God, God to campers, and so on. Think of it this way: The sun’s light shines on everything, allowing plants to photosynthesize, grow, and provide food and nutrients for the soil, animals, and humans alike. With the power of the sun, countless ecosystems are supported and grown, each one complex and deeply interconnected. Built on the foundation of the sun, natural relationships beget more relationships, and life as we know it is able to flourish, adapt and bear the beauty that we know and hold dear. Each organism in the world has a function and purpose, and each organism is vitally important. Extend this concept to camp. For us, camp exists to serve youth, but think of everything that must happen for camp to exist in the first place. A staff must be assembled, both full time and seasonal, training must be administered, money has to come in to support camper’s tuition, we have to operate as a business and a ministry; as an organism with countless, complex relationships. We are living in, and creating an ecosystem where relationship begets relationship and as a result beautiful fruit is born. Most importantly, we depend on the Lord to be the light that will help us grow and and along the way nourish campers and staff alike. No matter who you are; camper, former staff member, board member, TSA officer, program participant, neighbor, camp professional, casual blog reader, or conference attendee, we genuinely hope that you’ll embrace with us the purpose of camp, with all it’s complex relationships, unified in the Love of Christ. We also hope that you'll swing by, and see for yourself!