A wonderful performance of Bones the musical was put on by a great session of MAD session two campers. Besides rehearsals, campers hiked to the cross, went to freedom fest for the 4th of July, and cheered on the staff vs world game for the Bishop’s Jubilee. Their creative evening programs included craftival, live-action clue, box fort, and their world famous last night talent show. We will miss the wonderful harmonious singing from these amazing campers!
What a fun and innovative time our session two campers of St. George’s had this week! It was an action packed week full of hiking to North Mountain, going on camp outs, and even a scavenger hunt to help save our beloved Squadoosh (our Shrine Mont mythical creature). Campers and counselors also had fun with a camp dance, bonfire with s’mores, and celebrating Christmas. We were reminded this week that we are all a part of the body of Christ and to share that love when we head back into the valley of the world. Thanks for a wonderful time, good ol’ St. G’s!
What an energetic week session one of sports camp had! Some old time favorites sports such as basketball, tennis, and soccer were played, as well as some new favorites, like tae kwon do and cricket. Some other activities that were enjoyed was the all camp carnival, a pool party, a bonfire, and the famous kangaroo court. Thanks for a great first session sport lovers, we’ll see you next year!
Music and Drama camp started off their season with a pun-derful group of session one campers! Activities on docket for the week included a dance with sports camp, and hilarious improv night, and a camp olympics. The last night they had a talent show that included s’mores, yum! They ended the session with a wonderful performance of Allen Pote’s musical, Moses and the Freedom Fanatics. Bravo MAD camp!
St. Andrew’s was jam packed with activities this year! Campers canoed, hiked to Seven Springs and the Cross, camped out behind Lexington House, ate tons of butt buns, and had a talent show! Not to mention the all-camp carnival and cook-out. Who knew you could fit so much into one week?
St. George's kicked off the beginning of the summer with a bang! Though at first the week was a little rainy, the sun dipped in and out and showed up for good by the end of the session. Campers played Messy Kickball (some messier than others), Question the Counselor, participated in an all-camp carnival, ate s'mores while searching for Bigfoot, beat the pavement for the real camp stories in the newspaper elective and created in the art elective. Christmas was full of cheer with caroling, a special Christmas service, and the traditional playing of the Christmas rat ball. Campers learned about the body of Christ and headed out into the valley of the world after final worship.
Explorers the Great RECAP
Explorers the Great session had an action packed couple of weeks on the mountain. They had their scheduled three day hikes which included trips to some waterfalls. Something new that was tried this year was rock climbing and the campers had a blast! Although there was time spent away from camp, there were also some traditional activities planned such as walkie talkie tag, campfire and s’mores, camp carnival, and an impromptu dance with St. George’s. Keep on adventuring explorers!
I'm listening to Tracy Chapman's "Revolution" and I can't help but think of camp. That might seem like a strange connection at first blush, but hear me out.
You see, in the tradition of the love of Christ, we at Shrine Mont Camps guide campers to be a force for love in this world. Regardless of any political ideology, I'm guessing you'll agree this is quite the fantastic mission. But in a world so divided, so fraught with anger and frustration - isn't choosing to be a force for love a revolutionary act?
Chapman's song speaks about the impoverished among us and how they will rise up in society - my question is, who will meet them and how will they treat them? Jesus spoke of the least of these among us and how we are to reach out to these persons. At Shrine Mont Camps, we learn that anyone we meet might be the least among us - our campers and counselors come from a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, and identities. They have so many different stories to tell. Each of them - and of us, really - could and likely has been the "least of these" at some point in our lives. It may even change from day to day and moment to moment. It is this empathy that we lead with at camp.
The revolutionary power of love. We hope our campers, counselors, and staff take this away when they leave camp; that for a short time, there was a consensus somewhere, somehow, to lead with our hearts. A short time that will hopefully stay with everyone who experiences the power of a summer at Shrine Mont Camps. As we lead our way into the Valley of the World, we take our lessons from camp and do our best to lead with empathy, love, and open hearts.
As Chapman says, a revolution can start with a whisper. Something as gentle, subtle, and powerful as love - for your neighbor, your friend, yourself. Campers know this from their time at Shrine Mont Camps. We hope that you will welcome them to share this lesson with you and the wider world. We are pretty proud of it, and we're guessing you will be too.
Camp starts this weekend!
I’ve been getting the calls and emails, the worries and wonderings. And I am so happy to help with them- you see, I know that for so many parents, the start of summer camp is a time of excitement (I get a week off!) and trepidation (will my child enjoy it? Will they get hurt?).
Having worked with children most of my life, and thus with their parents, I know from experience and stories that you may possibly be a ball of emotion yourself, regardless of if your child is one. So please, let me provide some observations based on my history, and what I know about Shrine Mont Camps:
Megan, Camp Registrar
"When the world is sick, can’t no one be well. But I dreamt we were all beautiful and strong.”
I began director’s training last year still grappling with the idea that I work within a system that isn’t doing everything it can to truly meet the needs of all students. I teach first grade at a public charter school. Working for a system that demands and depends on data to determine the “wholeness” and the “worth” of a child, while seeing day-to-day that such a system deprives a child from truly becoming whole and from recognizing one’s own worth, becomes exhausting. I struggle daily with the regimented system of schooling while actively conforming to perform my job. I work in a space and structure designed for the success of a select few students where conversations often center on what kids cannot do, versus what they can. So often in schools, fear for the unknown allows adults, school workers, to claim kids as unfit for a classroom. I often find myself challenging that notion and pushing back, if a kid’s place is not the classroom, after all, where is it?
When I got to camp, I felt comfort knowing I was once again in a community where love and spirit drive decisions and campers sit as the intention. During training week, I posed four questions to my staff: Why are you here? What words will campers use to describe me? What experiences do I want my campers to have? And What is the long-term impact of those experiences? We reflected quietly for some time and then shared together. I modeled by sharing my long story of why I come to camp and why I am the Director of St. Andrew’s. Not wanting my staff to feel forced to share too many personal details, I also shared what impact I hoped would bring this summer, “I want campers to recognize and own their gifts. This can and will empower then to advocate for themselves.” As my one-hour session transformed into a two-hour session, I sat overwhelmed and grateful listening to each of their stories. After all, only when we can be honest with each other about who we are at the core, can we truly begin to impact change.
During camp, I watched my staff lead with love, compassion, and grace as my campers experienced, hikes, art time, and canoeing. I watched them prioritize camper interests through Camptivity (the St. A’s version of free electives) and specialized chaplain’s time centered around creating personalized character cards. I watched campers engage daily in the intentional noticing and naming of each other’s strengths through the DLP framework (describe, label, praise). I watched our campers collaborate and lead joint activities with every camp on the mountain. I watched brave spaces being opened where campers described God as “a perfectly autistic being” and questioned why humans so often divide each other into groups and judge. But mostly I watched my campers being campers and doing camp. After all, regardless of diagnosis, camp is a place where all kids can be successful. Yet in an institutionalized setting, this often breaks down.
As I reflect on what the bridge is between camp and a classroom, I am drawn to the combination of high expectations, patience, and love. I wonder what it could look like for a school to be so grounded in mission that a child comes first and a test score comes second.
This summer, I sat through day one of professional development at a different school in a new city. As a district, we grounded ourselves in a shared school wide mission. Then we grounded ourselves in our personal “whys”. As I wrote mine down, I couldn’t help but notice the resemblance to why I so
whole heartedly believe in the mission of St. Andrew’s and Shrine Mont Camps. While I still don’t fully understand how to bridge the gap to create a more natural classroom that serves all students, I know my camp experience grounds me in my work and my “whys”:
1. To help kids discover, understand, and own the unique gifts they bring to the world and empower them to advocate for themselves through those gifts;
2. So that every child feels loved and valued;
And only then, after grounding myself in the whole child, can I begin to address my third “why”
3. To provide a strong educational foundation early on that drives a passion for learning
Come find out how camp can change you, your life, and your perspective! Apply today.
- Katie Franzel, St. Andrew's Camp Director
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you."
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.