The spirit, or sweetness of camp became evident long before the campers arrived. From the moment that I pulled on to Port Oneida Road until my last camper and I got choked up as he got into the van, I’ve pondered what makes camp so special. I remember coming around Glen Lake following Brock in his Jeep; he was so excited he could hardly stand it. As we walked around camp, I met a number of Leelanau staff members, all of whom gave me hugs; then Brock and I ran up Pyramid Point. We just missed the sunset, but the trip was still worthwhile.
One extremely important thing that we as Christian Scientists can do is to build up our spiritual foundation. And our foundation strengthens as we unite in prayer. In our church manual, Mrs. Eddy tells us, “It shall be the duty of every member of this church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not to be made to forget not to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind.” (Man. 42). Nothing is more vital than our personal prayer in the morning. I’m so grateful for the time set aside everyday for us to talk with God, time to pray for ourselves, for our campers, and for each other. I attribute a great deal of our success to our diligence in the morning.
This quiet time in the morning would be worthless if we didn’t take our inspiration and use it. I remember hiking up to my first Leelanau testimony meeting and being absolutely blown away. The readings were inspiring, and the testimonies left me wanting more. I literally did not want the service to end. There is something inspiring about hearing young Christian Scientist give testimonies. As I ran down the backside of that ridge, I was soaring with inspiration. And that spiritual high that I was on simply blended right on into the next one.
Overall, I think we all enjoy coming to Church and Sunday School more here than we do at home. You might be the only person in your Sunday School at home and you might be thinking, “Ok. So, church at camp is cool, but at home, it’s sooo boring. My Sunday school teacher only talks about the lesson, and the Wednesday services are so dull.” Well, guess what? We are the young Christian Scientists. We can and should be bringing inspiration to our church services. We should be standing up each week as if we were back at camp, overflowing with gratitude for God’s healing power. I guarantee that as you bring inspiration to church, you will feel that same sense of inspiration reflected back to you.
Another major attribute that is extremely tangible at camp is that of selfless giving. We look out for one another. We focus on the needs of each other all summer long. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to us that, as we do this, our own needs will also be met. As a rookie on staff, I found myself frequently asking questions. The funny thing is that I often asked Tim and Kurt for information, the two members on staff who were just as much in the dark as I was. But with the love and support from campers and staff alike, we were able to assimilate into the culture.
One of my favorite parts of the summer was walking down and back from dips. Now, the actual dipping was refreshing and invigorating, but what was even better was the love that I saw expressed everyday. Boys, guys, men, walking arm and arm with each other, checking in with one another, and supporting each other.
And again, when you go back to school, you probably don’t have the same kind of supportive environment that you have here. But isn’t it up to us to get that ball rolling? Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health, “Millions of unprejudiced minds – simple seekers for Truth, weary wanderers, athirst in the desert – are waiting and watching for rest and drink. Give them a cup of cold water in Christ’s name, and never fear the consequences.” We all have what it takes. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here healing and loving and sending our campers back into the world feeling inspired to do the same.
One final part of camp and the staff that makes the spirit that much stronger is the courage we maintain in the face of animal magnetism. When things are going well, rather than coast, we are constantly reminded to raise the bar and to give more. And when things get tough, we don’t pack up and go home. Instead, we stand up to error and fight. During the flag trip, we found ourselves caught in the middle of the storm. While that experience changed my life, I hope that none of you will actually find yourself stuck on a ridge in the middle of a storm. However, life may often feel as tumultuous as it did that night, and when it does, remember the story of Elijah. From I Kings, “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” God is always with us, and we can continue to stand up to the aggressive mental suggestions of mortal mind with great courage and confidence for our power comes from God.
Go forward, trusting that Divine Love is truly meeting our every need. Take the spirit of camp with you and spread it throughout your community. I am a firm believer that the more you put in, them more you get out, or as a favorite coach of mine like to say, “The hole through which you give is the hole through which you receive. As manifestations of God, each of us is extremely important. We are indispensable to each other, and cherished by our Father-Mother God. Let us dare to be exceptional young men and women. Be the ones to inspire those sitting in the pews around you; be the ones who create and maintain a supportive environment overflowing with unselfish love; and let us stand up with divine courage as we continue to demonstrate the nothingness of error. Let us go forward, and live by Mrs. Eddy’s words in Misc. Writings, “Beloved children, the world has need of you, – and more as children than as men and women: it needs your innocence, unselfishness, faithful affection, uncontaminated lives. You need also to watch, and pray that you preserve these virtues unstained, and lose them not through contact with the world. What grander ambition is there than to maintain in yourselves what Jesus loved, and to know that your example, more than words, makes morals for mankind!”