Greetings from the Village, where our campers are starting to wrap up their two weeks here at camp. These wonderful days are filled with so many blessings, from so many sources: the daily worship services, the engaging Christian education sessions, and of course all the fun and games of being at summer camp.
At first glance, you would think that the children would hate spending time here. It’s summertime and yet they have to be up by 7 AM. By 8 AM they are showered, and have already done their daily chores of sweeping, mopping, or cleaning the bathroom. When 8 AM rolls around, they’re in church, not for a once a week church service but their first of two daily church services. They are fed three meals a day, and not once are they asked “What do you want to eat?” They fast twice a week, the traditional Wednesday and Friday days of fasting. And perhaps most shocking of all, not once do you see a child looking at a screen. Besides a movie or two during the rainy hours when outside play isn’t possible, there’s not a TV in sight. No one is playing video games, and no one has their cell phones, as those are collected upon arrival and distributed only upon departure. Tell all this to a kid who has never been here, and they might ask you, “What is it, a prison camp?”
But what I can tell you, and what you can observe in the photographs on the camp’s daily update page, is that these are some of the happiest days for our young people. Camp-life hearkens back to a simpler time: when every meal was eaten together, when life was lived at a more human pace, and when technology did not invade almost every moment of our lives. Some of you might remember the recording of several albums where the singer or band produced an album “unplugged”. These recordings, made without the use of electronic instruments like electric guitars or synthesizers, allow the audience to hear and artist’s music in a more simpler, pure form. In the same way, camp-life can be considered “life, unplugged”.
And I think there’s an important lesson in all of this for us who are parents, grandparents, and any of us who love children, whether our own or others’. What all this proves very clearly is that while our kids think they know what makes them happy, they’re very often wrong. And we who think we need to follow their own ideas of happiness are also wrong. Take a look at the faces in the photos then you’ll recognize the happiness when life is lived unplugged.
For the next few days, the campers will be given lots of encouragement to continue the growth that they often begin during their two weeks here at the village. They’ll be encouraged to attend church more regularly, pray more often, fast, be loving to those around them, and then anyway that they can, continue the happiness of life unplugged. The adults in their lives should also therefore be encouraged to do the same. Let’s all consider how we might live life a little more unplugged. Maybe it’s a day a week or even just an evening without screens. It shouldn’t take a power outage to get us to bring out the board games and remember how much we love each other’s company. It won’t be long before we discover some forgotten joys in a more simple, even occasionally, unplugged life.