A few days after I left the mountain this summer, I was out to lunch with a friend when someone approached us. “I didn’t know people still wore those shirts.” She was passing through town but recognized the classic, worn St. G’s t-shirt. She started recounting her days as a camper at Shrine Mont and I started thinking about the web. At camp we talk a lot about connection. We make meaningful connections with those present on the mountain. Yet, we also enter into a larger web of connections that has been carefully molded and shaped within the history of Shrine Mont Camps. It is a web so deep that strangers can exchange shared understandings and stories. I think about the campers - campers who become counselors, counselors who become colleagues, colleagues who become friends and friends who become family.
This summer, while sharing conversation with another staff member, I said to him, “you probably don’t remember this, but one of my most profound God moments on this mountain involves you. MAD camp was walking the labyrinth and I was one of the last to enter. Right before I walked in, you asked me to sing Sanctuary. My head said ‘no way—just because I work at MAD does not mean I sing!’ But my heart and my voice said ‘of course,’ after all this is camp and we are open to outcomes.” I couldn’t plan for this experience of singing along to be an incredibly spiritual experience. But isn’t that how this web works? We can’t plan who will step on this mountain and mold our lives in a profound way. All of a sudden this memory was weaved into my web, connecting me to my campers, the mountain, and to God in a way I could not have predicted. It’s these little moments, these unplanned memories that shape the web that is camp. It’s the conversations walking to meals, the wind that blows during the good night song, the goofiness of evening games, it’s all these little moments that weave their way into camp that form our web.
As each new wave of campers and counselors step into the Shrine Mont family, I am blessed to be part of the expanding web. As I think about all the unplanned memories happening on the mountain this summer, I feel hopeful always knowing that even in the valley of the world, two strangers can meet and these little unplanned memories join us together—after all, we are all connected to the web.