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