July 1, 2009
Green Lake Bible Camp, Spicer MN
Camp, Day 4
Sarah Semmler Smith
We’ve arrived at the ‘flow point’ of camp today. The kids know the songs, the Biblical theme verse, and are genuinely excited to be here. Friendships are forming. Flirtations and mini-dramas are unfolding between teenage campers. The counselors have hit their stride with each other and with the kids, having learned what makes them laugh and how to help them focus at the right times. The weather is sunny and breezy this week in MN and in the low 80’s – just cool enough to make swimming a brave versus essential activity. Its tie-dye day, and soon the camp will be an explosion of swirled rainbow colors.
I’ve been struck again, as I visit a Lutheran Bible camp after an absence of three years, at how much the campers truly love to sing and dance and spend time in worship. Two songs seem to be favorites for this week’s bunch; both have to do with dancing, interestingly. In the first song, there is a break-out/jam session in the middle of the verses where everyone yells, “Let’s dance!” and to the rhythm of the guitars, everybody breaks into their own free-spirited rendition or move. The giggles produced during that moment of the song are always contagious.
The second song, “Holy Time” really is a song that functions as invocation. The lyrics: “This is holy time, gathered together to worship you, to love one another. And as we pray, and as we sing, and as we dance and as we dream, Oh Lord I beg of you, just this one thing: Won’t you dance with me? Throughout the heavens and below the sea, up on the mountain top, flow with the breeze, come carry me. Oh Lord won’t you dance, with me?” This song captures so well the raw spirituality of children at this age; their longing for something real and of God; the vastness of their imagination; their incurable curiosity and ability to laugh and play in any moment. “Holy Time” seems to be a young persons prayer to be a part of the life of the Divine, a yearning for a life of faith that is hardwired to something profoundly close and accepting of them, and yet vast and powerful enough to take them on adventures to the worlds and beyond.
At camp, God dances with the counselors and children. At GLBC, you can see it during cabin meals, as counselors and their cabins chare a laugh over a rice crispy bar. You can see it in Bible study, where games and activities help make values a topic accessible and interesting to 7th grade boys; you can feel it in worship at the crackling of the fire as young eyes who peer into the orange flames listen to the strumming of the guitar and ask in that quiet moment, “Who am I, really? Who will I become? Where are you God in all this anyway?”
To the music, creativity, spirit of play, adventure, and dance at camp, I take off my hat, and Thank God for such a ministry in the ELCA.
Sarah Semmler Smith