Every Shrine Mont Camp has its own unique personality and culture. Even though many counselors work at more than one camp, the distinctive characteristics of each remain. Art Camp is the camp I know best, having been its chaplain a number of years. I observe it to be one of the most, if not the most, introspective of the camps. And that doesn't surprise me. The kids who choose to come to art camp are interested, after all, in art. Almost all like to do art and learn about art and talk about art. They enjoy other typical camp activities as well - hiking and swimming, playing games and camping. But most are artists. And artists, as a generalization, are more introspective and more comfortable with quiet and stillness than the general population. Artists are, as a generalization, more introverted. By that I don't mean shy, but instead I refer to the classic definition: an introvert is someone who gets energized by quiet and stillness and who expends that energy with others.
Quiet and stillness are like the "white space" in a piece of art or in a written document. If the page were absolutely covered from top to bottom and from side to side, it would be difficult to make out the words or images. Our eye needs "white space" to help us make sense of what we are seeing. In the same way we human beings need quiet and stillness to help us make sense of what we are experiencing.
Thankfully, there are occasions for quiet and stillness woven into the fabric of camp life at almost every turn. At the opening worship service a few days ago, campers were invited to write a brief letter to themselves naming some of their hopes for Art Camp 2014. Silence descended on the Shrine for a moment as campers took out their pens, opened their sketchbooks and began to write. It is not unusual during art time or chaplain's time for a holy silence to fall over the group as campers draw or paint. Quiet conversations are had even on the periphery of a dance. The Goodnight Song offers the entire camp a chance to quiet down and nightly feeling checks invite honest introspection.
Quiet and stillness are not at all counter to the culture of joyful high energy that so marks Shrine Mont Camps. They are, instead, a necessary part of it. Quiet and stillness balance and bless the spirit of all of our camps. Praise God who is known in the activity and in the stillness.
By Bishop Susan Goff
The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff is a summer camp veteran, not to mention the first female bishop elected in the Diocese of Virginia, where she serves as bishop suffragan. This is her third year working as Art Camp's chaplain.
Bishop Goff first worked at Shrine Mont as the director of Senior High Conference in the 1980s, before it became SHYC, and has been a friend and supporter of Shrine Mont Camps for all the years in between and since. While in seminary, Bishop Goff directed Eagle's Nest, the summer camp of the Diocese of Newark, for three summers.
She first joined the bishop’s staff as canon to the ordinary in January 2010. Bishop Goff was consecrated on July 28, 2012. As bishop suffragan, she oversees mission churches, in addition to multicultural and ethnic ministries. Before 2010, Bishop Goff served as rector of St. Christopher’s, Springfield for 15 years. She also served as rector of Immanuel, Old Church, in Mechanicsville; chaplain of St. Catherine’s School in Richmond; and chaplain of St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock.
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.