Every visit, every parish weekend, every retreat, all camp time on The Mountain is wondrous, fun, restorative – and at the same time – never enough. I’ve always left wanting more, and that’s a good thing. When my own kids aged out of Shrine Mont Camps, I felt bereft. But this summer, I found much more of this good thing in a week at Family Camp.Family Camp visits Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley.
All-camp worship kickstarted our week as this whole new family of God: young, young-at-heart, kin, stranger, coming for years, and brand spanking new. We gathered morning, noon and evening for prayer, with fun and field trips for kids and youth, and an incredible workshop on conflict & resolution for adults each morning. Each afternoon offered a hike or a trip to the Luray Caverns, time at the pool or time for “porchin” (verb: to porch).
There was great music throughout by our Family Camp musicians, and we had ample time to get to know each other. Every family has its rituals and traditions, so hay rides, and a carnival, and the talent show were enjoyed again. New ways of being together were introduced, so by mid-week, a beautiful balance of comfort and adventure had taken hold.
A phrase born one morning, and oft repeated throughout the week, is that this is a family “beyond blood,” more like what God has in mind for us all. One young, new camper woke up of a morning so excited that being there wasn't just a dream: he had another whole day of Family Camp coming.Mary Beth (right) and her daughter, Jojo.
In our Prayer Book there are prayers for The Human Family and For the Good Use of Leisure, the hopes expressed in these prayers were echoed throughout our week in community: united in bonds of love, God gives us times of refreshment and peace, rebuilding our bodies and renewing our minds, our spirits opening to the goodness of creation. Family Campers were asked to go and share this good news: we’re family, God loves us mightily, and we can’t wait to be together again next year.
By Mary Beth Emerson
As regional deacon for Region 5, Mary Beth helps facilitate collaborative outreach and service opportunities, while serving as Assistant for Family Ministry at St. Thomas', McLean. This summer was her first year as one of Family Camp's Chaplains, but she's been coming to Shrine Mont for a quarter century or so. Her daughter, Jojo, is a counselor at St. George's camp. Inspired by Shrine Mont's chefs, Mary Beth just finished her first batch of pickled watermelon rinds.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.