Earlier this week, our full time staff gathered for a zoom meeting. During the retreat season, we do these weekly but in the busyness of summer we try to do them once a month. We started our meeting by sharing ways that we have seen God working this summer and there was a resounding theme across our ministry: Community.
Community is at the core of most camps. At CPM, we see this emerge in the temporary communities that are established for one week of youth camp, Silver Beach, or on a canoe trip; the summer staff community that intentionally exists; or the full time staff who have committed to living a life in community together. But in our meeting this morning, it was apparent that the community of Covenant Pines Ministries reaches beyond what would typically come to mind when you think of “camp community.”
At Adventurous Christians, there is another Wilderness Camp off the Gunflint Trail, and our staff has gotten to know their staff quite well over the years. At the beginning of this summer, when both camps were out on their staff training trip, the two groups crossed paths. Mind you, this was not planned and truthfully shouldn’t have even happened given the routes both groups were taking. This short exchange allowed for some shared laughs, but also an opportunity for our staff to care for some of theirs in a time of need. The timing lined up perfectly enough to care for our friends when some of them really needed it.
Earlier this summer, there was a camper at Covenant Pines who needed a little more one-on-one attention then your typical camper. This happens from time to time, and we do our best to provide that attention when needed. This camper had a desire to still participate at camp, to feel a part of this unique community that is created each week, but also knew she had limitations. Her counselor was attentive, thoughtful and caring for this camper (all while also lifeguarding) to make camp a place where she felt comfortable to participate.
Every first day of camp is a little chaotic, including at the Bus Stop at Salem Covenant Church. We load all the campers on the bus making sure everyone is accounted for, pack the trailers and answer any questions about the week of camp ahead. Once the buses leave, there is a communal exhale as the campers make their way to camp. Some parents choose to stick around and share their excitement for their campers with each other, pray together, and make plans to hear about their campers weeks when they get back. The parents who send their children to camp are creating their own little community themselves, making the impact of the week of camp grow farther.
These stories share the ways that the community of Covenant Pines Ministries reaches beyond our campers each week. Stories were also shared about the personal community staff are finding, volunteers who are coming up and contributing to and bringing life to our community, and the growth we are observing within the people we are serving alongside. It is a humbling reminder that we are all apart of something bigger. A bigger story, and an even bigger community in God’s family.