“Almighty and everlasting God, you made the universe with all its marvelous order, its atoms, worlds, and galaxies, and the infinite complexity of living creatures: Grant that, as we probe the mysteries of your creation, we may come to know you more truly, and more surely fulfill our role in your eternal purpose; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
– "For Knowledge of God's Creation," The Book of Common Prayer, page 827
Explorers Camp closed Friday, August 1st. While all of our camps reside in the woods, separated from the wilderness only by cabins and screens, Explorers take their outdoorsy-ness a little more seriously, discovering the Shenandoah Valley with as few conveniences as possible. Explorers Camp is in session as long as any other camp - beginning with Explorers the Great on June 22 and wrapping up the first of August - but if one walked through Bear Wallow Camp on a given day one might ask themselves, “Self, why is it so quiet?” Explorers II was really only at Shrine Mont proper for a few days, the rest of the time they were gallivanting around Duncan Knob and canoeing the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.
Before Explorers’ three days away from Shrine Mont, long-time camp traditions were observed and new traditions were made. For every pool party, it's customary for counselors to swim in ridiculous clothing and dresses.
Explorers play a human chess match with wit, cunning, and some St. Elizabeth’s buddies.
The next day the packs were stuffed, the kids were excited, and Explorers' three-day hike and canoe trips began. Explorers campers were allowed to state a preference for their three-day trip - hike or canoe - but every camper goes on one.
Fun fact: St. George's Session IV and Explorers Session II went on the same three-day trips at different times in the summer, and the Explorers counselors served as leaders for the St. G's three-days.
The three-day hike crew trekked up to Duncan Knob in the George Washington National Forest where they experienced a breathtaking view that even the picture below doesn't do justice.
The weather during the three-days was gorgeous, and unusually cool for the end of July. For canoeing, the sun reflecting off the water made for a peaceful easy feeling.
For Explorers, three days away from Shrine Mont was just a flash, and they returned just as quickly as they left. Luckily, camp is a full week long and there was more camp to be had. In the town of Mount Jackson, there is a bowling alley. But not just a regular bowling alley, a Duckpin Bowling alley. The bowling balls are smaller and are lighter, and they have a tendency to be more unpredictable. All this made for antics among counselors and campers. In Explorers case, it's OK for them to be indoors once in a while.
The final evening program is an Explorers staple: paint twister! In the end, all the Explorers campers were vibrant examples of a game well played.
Closing at Explorers is an intimate and energized experience. Explorers rejoiced in their time with God’s creation, that it had renewed them and given them a deeper understanding of what about nature and one another we hold so dear. Days spent hiking North Mountain and Duncan Knob, canoeing the Shenandoah, coming together as a community left an impression on Explorers. They'll carry that impression with them off this mountain.
By Greg Deekens
Greg Deekens first came to Shrine Mont Camps three years ago, working as a counselor at St. Sebastian’s Sports Camp. Since then camp has been a big part of Greg's life, and allowed him to take the skills he has learned as a counselor and apply them to life off the mountain.
Greg is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, where he studies broadcast journalism and business management.
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.