Holy Moly, there are almost two hundred campers and staff here at Shrine Mont Camp this week!! This is Fr. Daniel Vélez, Vicar of St. Gabriel´s ~ San Gabriel in Leesburg and the Shrine Mont blogger for Camp!
You know how it feels when you go to a party and you don’t know anyone? You may feel like an outsider and a tinge lonely until someone engages you in conversation. Well, I was feeling that way for the first hour or so after arriving because there are so many campers and I don’t know any of them except for four volunteers: Liam, Eva, Adrik, and LJ. Of course I also know the magnificent Paris Ball.
After dinner the campers, volunteers, my friend and parishioner Liam and I went to the Cathedral of the Transfiguration for an All Camp Worship. Whoa! Two hundred campers glorifying God with voice and body!! If you love worshiping at the Cathedral you MUST see what it’s like with these many Christian kids rocking the house in joyful praise! I sat at an empty bench to the side and close to the front as people gathered hoping that someone would sit down with me. Most campers might feel awkward sitting next to the stranger among them, but as the crowd started pouring in, four people sat next to me. The young lady to my right introduced herself and said she was with St. George’s camp. She was having a grand old time, especially as the cool praise songs were sung. At one point, as we sang and moved to the rhythm of Light the Fire she reached out and held my hand. Then as we sang the line that says, “wrap your arms around me”, and everyone put an arm on their neighbor, she put her arm around my shoulder and we continued swaying and singing. So much for feeling like an outsider and lonely! Thank you, my new sister in Christ! It was a Holy Spirit moment, you know how the Holy Spirit moves in the most unexpected ways!
I can imagine first-time campers feeling the way I did when I first arrived yesterday. “Who are all these people? I don’t know anyone!” I am sure that on the first day of camp all the returning campers run into old friends, or they come from the same church, and so they get wrapped up into their joyful reunions. As you heard, it took no time for me to be genuinely welcomed and authentically integrated into the Shrine Mont Camp scene!
Later the same night of my first day, as the rain poured out of the sky like a tropical storm, the campers danced and sung pop songs at the top of their lungs at the upper pavilion next to the pool. They St. George’s and Explorers were all having a grand ole time, some were dressing up in outfits brought in for the occasion, making the event somewhat of a costume ball. The raindrops hitting the tin roof sounded as loud as the speakers that were blaring out music. It was wonderful to watch the campers dance together without inhibitions, social norms, or criticism from any onlookers dictating who should dance with whom or even how to dance! I was rocking to the beat too! It was liberating, exhilarating, and joyful to be part of the Holy fun at Shrine Mont Camp!
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.