From August 6-11, 20 teenagers and six phenomenal adult leaders headed to Massanetta Springs Camp and Conference Center for a week of fellowship, fun, and faith!
During the week, we delved into questions of identity, with "Who do you say I am?" as the theme for the week. We played games, talked, and learned together how Jesus calls us "very good" in Genesis. Before we have accomplished anything, we are beloved by God. In the mornings, we engaged in meditative practices together before quiet time, when all participants were invited to rest and spend time on their devotional booklets.
We discussed our cultures, neighborhoods, what it means to follow Jesus in a world where suffering and oppression happen, and how we are called as Christians to be peacemakers, listeners, and open to one another, celebrating difference rather than erasing it. I was so proud of how our youth and leaders engaged in the subject matter and experienced together what it's like, at least for a week, to live in the Christian community.
We also played innumerable games of Gaga Ball (pictured below), a few rounds of trash-can (also shown below), and other hilarious and fun games. We tie-dyed our T-shirts and created gifts for a secret buddy throughout the week, with most youth creating mosaic pieces for their partners. In the afternoons, youth could play in the pool, hang out in the lodge's common area, do arts and crafts, or play foursquare in the Nook. On our last day, as a special treat, we went to Massanutten Resort and Waterpark and spent the afternoon playing in the water.
On the last night, Kayden, a youth deacon, and Meggin Capers, chair of the Youth Ministry Council, planned a beautiful prayer station and communion service. There were stations where youth could light candles to pray for someone, create beaded lanyards to represent the fruits of the spirit they longed for, places where they could clip notes of gratitude, and even a prayer station for the world, communities, and neighborhoods, and more. We closed that service with communion before the youth went off to their small groups for affirmations of one another and the sharing of the gifts they created for their secret buddies.
Overall, it was a beautiful week of community, and I'm so grateful for each youth who participated and for every leader who gave a week of their summer to partake in the wildness and beauty of camp.