A favorite Sunday School/VBS song of mine has always been This Little Light of Mine. It’s a great song, with a catchy tune, and lyrics that are, at the same time, animated and inspiring. I mean, really, what’s more fun than singing “Won’t let Satan POOF! it out!?
It’s a fun song to sing – but it’s also confessional. It’s a great statement of faith when we say that we are NOT going to let Satan quench the Light of Christ that we promise to carry into the world. We joyfully sing of how we are going let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Pass it On is another favorite song from my childhood. I know that some people think it’s pithy, but I love it. I’ve always thought of it as the summer camp version of Silent Night. The sentiment of the song, pithy though it may be, is that when you realize how much better your life is because of whatever – God’s love, springtime, or summer camp – you WANT to tell others about it so that they can experience the same thing.
When I go out to talk about summer camp in the congregations, I almost always have someone tell me afterwards that they can tell that I believe in what we do – and it’s true! I do believe in what we do.
I LOVE to talk about camp – who we are, where we’ve come from, and where we’re going. I’ve experienced the impact of church camp in my own life, and more importantly, I’ve seen the impact of camp on the lives of countless others.
You’re darn right I’m gonna shout it from the mountaintops!
I’ve been working on my Master’s thesis for seminary this spring. Not surprisingly, I’ve managed to find a way to write about Nawakwa, specifically the work of Nawakwa’s founder, Hadwin Fischer, and the lasting impact he had on the Lutheran Church in this area. When he was trying to get people to buy into the idea of leadership training for the church in an outdoor setting, he didn’t have the luxury of 85 years of history, hundreds of pastors, or thousands and thousands of campers to point to.
He didn’t have the legacy, but he had a vision of what could be – based on his experiences with well-rounded, well-networked, faithful living.
He also possessed the charisma to persuade others into believing in that vision with him.
And Dr. Fischer had a really strong work ethic – he put in countless hours of work – from details and drawings to fundraising to digging holes and pounding nails – and speaking in congregations and training staff and teaching classes at camp. He worked really hard for a cause he believed in – and I believe that he truly loved doing it. Unfortunately, he loved the work so much that he literally worked himself to death at the age of 63.
Because you’re reading this blog, it’s probably safe to say that you believe in that vision that Dr. Fischer cast so many years ago – that the church can be a strong, effective force for good in the world – and that church camp (as we practice it) strengthens the church by strengthening the faith of the people in it.
When Jesus sent the disciples out into the world to make disciples – to evangelize- he didn’t send just one person out, because it was too big a job for one person alone– he sent them all!
Likewise, when we look at how to share the good news of the Camping Corporation, we don’t ask just one person or even one committee to do that. No one of us can, by ourselves, share the good news of God’s work at Kirchenwald, Nawakwa, and The Wittel Farm with the whole world – or even the whole Lower Susquehanna Synod. It’s too big a deal.
We need everyone to embrace our mission of faith formation for a stronger church and PASS IT ON. We cannot hide our light under a bushel – or Satan will POOF it out!
Talk about it; don’t be still!
Shout it from the mountaintop!
It doesn’t matter how you describe it, the important thing is that we need all of us who have been enriched, encouraged, and inspired by God’s work through the Camping Corporation to share that good news. If everyone who camp to summer camp at Kirchenwald and Nawakwa brought one friend to camp this summer, we’d still have room left over for more – so tell others about camp and invite them to give it a try as well.
It’s not just about “the more, the merrier,” it’s about sharing and proclaiming God’s love and carrying out God’s mission in the world.
Holy and gracious God, you give us everything that we need – food and shelter, family and friends, and a world full of promise and beauty. Most of all, you call us and claim us as your children and promise to hold us in the palm of your hand forever. We thank you for all these gifts and the gift of the camping corporation. Help us to pass on the story of your work in these places so that more people will experience your boundless love and grace. Keep our flames burning brightly as we carry them out into the world. AMEN!