A reflection from Ed Jones, secretary and chief of staff for the Diocese of Virginia.
Shrine Mont has always been about connections – making new ones, renewing old ones – but never more so than during this year’s Fourth of July weekend, when perfect weather combined with top-of-the-line bluegrass and fun-filled action on the athletic fields.
The occasion was the Bishop’s Jubilee, when dozens of camp alumni and other guests descended on Shrine Mont in the middle of camp season to eat good food and listen to foot-stomping music.
Beyond the festivities were lots of lower profile activities that grow out of connections to Shrine Mont that have extended through the years and the generations.
Fred Forstall, a former forester who now works for a federal regulatory agency in Washington, was spading away on a project he has been at for years: building up one of the culverts near Shrine Mont Circle that become fast-moving streams during heavy rain. Over the years, parts of the culvert have been washed out, making it more difficult for the water to flow freely.
Forstall, a member of the Shrine Mont board of directors, has been hauling in rocks to build up the bottom, one of which required two men to lift into a truck. It’s a way of staying connected to Shrine Mont, says Forstall, a product of St. George’s Camp whose love affair with Shrine Mont was interrupted by two decades spent working in Alabama. Since 2000, when he moved back to Virginia, the connection has been re-established.
While Forstall was shoveling away, a fast-moving Ultimate Frisbee game was being won by the camps’ staff over a team from “the world” – alumni and others – while bluegrass bands, one from Harrisonburg and the other from Staunton, were getting ready for the late afternoon performances at the lower pavilion.
Life in the camps continued on, as it will for several more weeks. But the sounds of campers singing and swimming were complemented on this weekend by the sounds of others who found Shrine Mont to be just the spot to connect or reconnect on a weekend celebrating the nation’s birthday.
One retired couple from Christ Church, Winchester heard about the bluegrass festival at the last minute and decided to hop in the car for the hour-plus ride. A woman from St. Anne’s, Reston, brought a friend to enjoy midsummer at Shrine Mont as a complement to her parish’s annual retreat in November.
On a weekend when the weather was as sweet as the music, they were not disappointed.
By Ed Jones
Ed Jones is the secretary and chief of staff for the Diocese of Virginia. Ed joined the bishop's staff after a career in journalism that spanned nearly a half-century, retiring as the editor of the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. Ed is the editor of Center Aisle, the Diocese of Virginia’s daily opinion journal for General Convention. Ed is also a deacon, serving St. Mary's, Colonial Beach.
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.