It takes a while to connect with the traditions and overall “quirkiness” of Camp Kirkwood, but once you do, you’re hooked! Each morning, our middle and high schoolers stumble out of their bunks and charge down to the “Coop” for breakfast. When stomachs are full and tables cleared, our frazzled cohort makes its way to “BOBS,” where we begin our day with worship. Camp songs blare, hand motions fly, and spirits rise as we prepare our hearts to hear God’s word. For the first time, we’ve had the privilege of welcoming a different BMPC associate pastor to preach every morning. Campers have a unique chance to build relationships with pastors they see from a distance on Sunday mornings.
Camp Kirkwood provides youth a rare opportunity to connect with themselves through a 45-minute “quiet time” every morning. After worship, we ask everyone to find a quiet place around the camp to spend some time alone with God. Campers are empowered to use their time in the way they find most enriching. Many use the guides we provide, others journal, some even paint! By the time the bell rings, everyone is ready to head to small group activities, canoeing, scavenger hunts, rope courses, fishing, gaga and many other activities around the camp.
After dinner, we gather again for an evening worship service. This year’s camp theme has been “Reconnect.” We’ve challenged youth to reconnect to themselves, to one another, to God, to their calling and to the world around them. A sermon series on Romans builds on the spiritual groundwork laid by pastors in each morning service. Campers join their small groups again after the service to explore scripture and ask tough questions of their faith.
It has been a joy to watch as our young people have been transformed by their experiences here. When we boarded the bus last Sunday, the nervous excitement was palpable. Each person came to camp with their own identities, joys and struggles. Kids wondered how they would fit into the relational network that was forming around them. By yesterday, teens were opening up about some of their deepest challenges, taking leadership roles in daily activities, and exploring new aspects of their faith together.
Out of many, one community has been formed. I’m willing to bet that each of our wonderful camp counselors would agree with me when I say, “Thank God for this opportunity to reconnect at Kirkwood!”