" H e y   A l l "
           Notes from the Vicar of Grace
              inclusion service discovery gratitude
The Rev. Bill Harper

Hey All--

I'm at Summer Camp right now.  I am very, very lucky.  That this can actually be called "work" seems amazing.  As most of you know, I carve out a bit of time each Summer to be a Chaplain at Camp Dudley, in upstate New York.  It's located at the foot of the Adirondacks and right on the shores of Lake Champlain.  Every day the sun sets behind those Adirondacks, and then rises every new day above the green mountains in Vermont, just across the lake.  In other words, here at Camp we are surrounded by mountains and water-and it does feel a lot like home.

But it's not home, and that's why being here is good for the soul.  My soul.  And the soul of the other 300 or so boys running around this place.  My job here is pretty simple: I preach on Sunday morning.  Other than that, I might do Vespers in cabins before bed, or I could end up cleaning tents in the Hike Hut.  I might sit down with a homesick 11 year old, or just smile from a big Adirondack chair on the Theater porch as young boys play, banter and build friendships.  I'm reminded in all of this that being at Camp stirs up in me the longing and dreams for the kind of community I imagine  in church life.  Here at Camp there's really no clear sense of "who's in charge."  Sure, there's some obvious leadership.  And there is indeed a Director, who carries the walkie talkie and the whistle.  He moves around a lot, looks busy, but always seems to have time to talk with one kid.  And there are program directors, area directors, maintenance guys; there are coaches and lifeguards and women who teach you how to silk-screen or weave a lanyard.  But the real leader in any given moment, with any given boy, might be a 17 year old cabin counselor who spends two hours teaching a 12 year old from Baltimore how to swim, or who sits up with him in the middle of the night when he misses the lights and sounds of his city.  Here, somehow, there is always time, always someone, always company and connection.  And under it is this sense that "this" is how life is meant to be-just like this. 

Sure, what boys like about Camp (including this boy, and his sons) is days on end in the same shorts, no wallet, no clocks, walking to breakfast in your pajamas and flip-flops with your hair standing up and not a worry at all.  But underneath that is something more substantial, more completely human-something we all share.  Here at Camp life is simple, in that honest, unsentimental way.  Hungers are satisfied, love is found, laughter happens, joy is unbridled, tears are allowed.  There's nothing like a week at Camp.  Or a Sunday morning at Grace.  Either way, it's life as it could be-and sometimes is. 

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