Memories of Summer Camp

For a number of people, I imagine there are lots of fond memories of Summer Camp. The summer for some begins the annual pilgrimage to their chosen Camp. A place where you would meet up with friends, and also make new friends, and experience the great outdoors. I had not experienced this in my life, Camp was not a family tradition for me in Scotland. My first experience of this great tradition, was when I was a camp counselor through an organization called Camp America, through their program. I had an interview in Edinburgh Scotland, fulfilled the requirements, and before I knew it, I was on my way to America.  They organize flights, paperwork, and give a little pocket money, and after Camp, some time was allowed for the individual to travel and explore the US.

Mark at Camp Asbury

It has come to my attention that 20 years have passed since my first encounter with camping ministry. I was a camp counselor at Camp Asbury in the East Ohio Conference, with the United Methodist Church.

Group Picture Camp 97

It certainly was a summer to remember, and a lot of first-time experiences. A week before the campers come to camp the staff for the summer goes through their training, experiencing everything, that you as a camp counselor have to allow the kids to experience. These were camping outside under a tarp, and the rest of the time a basic cabin, or if older out in the woods all week. In Rustic there we would fend for ourselves, by building a campfire and this time would require us to cook over it, for every meal. There was a lot of hiking on the various trails, wade through the creek, go down a mud slide, swim in a pond with fish, leeches, and goose poo, and an occasional snake.

There were Bible studies called vespers, it was mostly a time of quiet out in the beauty of creation, under the canopy, or in the cathedral of the forest.

I wrote my first poem during this time:

Liberty and Freedom In the peace of God’s creation, under the canopy of the beauty of a forest. I hear the bird’s sing their worship to the one who made them, God. I hear the wind blow, it reminds me that God blew into us the breath of life. And the Spirit is like the wind, a liberty and freedom as the wind has no limitation. Mark Condy 1997.

Group Camp 98

All these experiences, such as around the campfire, working together, doing the high and low rope challenge courses. (The photos below are me ready to do the Powerpole and having accomplished the challenge) These were times as a group that was rewarding and life shaping, making lasting friends, or just for the summer, but memories were formed.

H – hour, a time when all had to be quiet in a horizontal position, when you could read or sleep but was also a given time to relax and recharge. There were also opportunities to go to the Camp store and buy your keepsakes, such as a T-shirt, hat, or the favorite soft toy, and got your free pencil or pen if I remember correctly. The merchandise took a change after a few years and had a different logo, the one I will always remember is the cross and tree.


There is an opportunity for those who have had contact and connection with Camp Asbury to get together once again.

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60th Anniversary Celebration

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http://www.eocumc.com/camps/summercamp_asbury.html

We made the journey to Camp Asbury for the 50th Anniversary and hope to do the same for the 60th Anniversary. This time we plan to stay overnight and allow our sons have a taste of Camp Asbury, with the hope they would desire to go also one day. Let all who are able to come, make the decision to enjoy this reunion and build further memories by catch up with each other.

A lot has happened in 20 years, let’s use this time to learn how life has been, and to share the paths that we have taken in our spiritual journeys. How have we been “touched by the light”?…

 

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This was my favorite T -shirt

 

I hope this post floods you with memories, of how your life was impacted for the good by Summer Camp and for the good you experienced. Also, may it remind you of the impact you made when contributing, by being there, having had an impact on a person, touching with your presence, if they were younger or older.

I know Camp changed the course of my life forever taking a turn I would never have expected changing the trajectory of my life. I met Susan my wife-to-be at Camp. One of the many reasons why I live in the USA, with my family.

 

 

The letter D begins many a word for direction!

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I have many friends who I’m praying for at present, their dreams have become disappointments, debts have become dread. Their longings have pressed them into a corner, feeling trapped with nowhere to turn, with doubt and despair as their companions, at times even longing for death. They are disillusioned with a life that feels full of dead ends.

The discoverer in some of my friends has dried up, having lost the dream, steps once taken in faith, have now become a dreaded dreary day, the head drooping, feet dragging, dust kicked up with each weary step, as if in a dry desolate desert. Life feels like this when we are at a crossroad in life, and have lost our childlike wonder, where everything is an adventure!

The once trail blazer, now no destination in sight, full of disappointment that needs to be displaced with desire; dreaming of doors opening wide and opportunities in sight. The new dawn, that brings a new day, anticipating all that the Lord is desiring to do, that will draw us into all we desire, and all God desires. The Lord’s heartbeat that causes delight, is to build the people and the church of God’s dreams.

The devil on our back, a dead weight like a dumbbell, debris dug through that needs delivered to the deliverer, who is Jesus. Jesus knows disappointment, and knows every persons doubts and double mindedness, asking for belief and trust in the midst of faithlessness. For he remains faithful.

Jesus, he does not delight in doctrines of demons and finds detestable the deception of falsehood. Jesus does desire freedom for his friends, to debilitate disillusionment by demons. Those negative self thoughts or the supernatural angels of darkness, one or the other. Those things that are churned up, and being dredging up, dirt from the dregs of the past, used to disable his saints. This is the delight of the minions of evil and the desire of a deceiver and destroyer, to fill our lives with dis-ease, or disease, making us sick and disbelieving, and it makes us drop to our knees.

Delighting yourself in the Lord,  welcomes and directs the focus back on the Lord, giving opportunity and hope to resurface and bring us to a place to discus with the Lord our issue, opening dialog to talk, giving an invitation to question why are you downcast oh my soul?

The body may be longing for a change in Direction, and here is a change in direction of thought:

The Butterfly can flutter away on the wind current, it is delicate, remember be gentle or it can be crushed, if trying to capture it by the hand, in good intention. Our lives are just as delicate, blown along with the issues of life, it is finding that balance and not crushing potential, or encouraged in a direction by good intention, but the question needs to be asked, does this match our soul makeup and dreams. It is being sensitive to catch the right wind current and begin to soar. To be blown along by the Holy Spirit!

My sons where arguing over a leaf and the older morning, one was holding onto the leaf and the younger one pulled at the leaf and it ripped and destroyed the delicate leaf, to the disappointment to the older son. The leaf was no longer beautiful. This was one of the very reasons my sons liked the leaf, it was amazing to look at, it was just coming out of the bud stage. The leaf was unfurling from its folded intricacy, much like how a paper fan is folded.

I thought that my older son could have gotten the leaf back if he had let it go, his younger brother just wanted to see what was of interest to him. We have to at times,  simply and with difficulty, we just need to let go of what we are holding onto, to let what we are holding onto free. let it go and if it is for us, God will allow it to come back to us.

Like the butterfly it had to be set free and not held onto, it is created to soar. Like us, when we let go and let God have control, we will enter into our full potential. The hardest part is the patience to wait in those difficult times, when the road is hard and dusty, a desert of barren wasteland, and the destination does not look to be coming into sight. We have to remember that it was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness for the test and it was preparation for the launch of the ministry the Lord had for Jesus to fulfill.

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Friendship as a Spiritual Discipline

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Here is a valued friend. Caryn Dalton.

Facebook: How many friends do you have? All this talk of friends, and is it very friendly? Or is it just a place to hide behind, to see people you know, watching their activates. Do we actually make friends?

Moving away from the virtual reality to everyday interaction with people in your sphere of influence.

People are friendly but not my friends, they are friendly acquaintances. Friendships have to go beyond friendliness to a place of making effort; and this has to be a mutual effort of both parties. This takes action and relationship forming, and a desire to want to be friends. This begins with a person knowing who you are, and you knowing who they are, and not just a superficial façade.

Friends are sharing, caring, supporting, encouraging, counseling, and have actually gotten to know your name, and generally help you to have fun, and laugh. Also give the sense of being cared for and a feeling of being valued. We as human beings do need to be with people, who are loyal friends. Who know you with all your faults, gone through the struggles, and still call you friend.

Then there is being connected spiritually, this takes friendship to another level, your spiritual friendships these can help you in your spiritual quest and journey to find you place in life. This is aided when we overcome self-sufficiency and enter interdependency, we need each other, and we need friendship. This teaches us, and helps us to listen to others. What we hear as we help our friends, tends to have an echo effect, it echoes back to us, showing our areas of blindness. This can also be the grace of God, the delayed process of conversion and change, only highlighted through our deep connection and vulnerability, with friends.

This transformation and restoration work comes to fruition as a result of connection with others and as you pursue God and your God given purpose and role. These moments of support are found in a lot of cases through friends, and the people who we associate with.

I was reading a book this week and this line struck me. Francis of Assisi is remembered to have told the brothers that were caring for him in his illness, “The Lord has shown me what was mine to do, may He show you what is yours to do.” Francis had friends who cared for him in his time of need, will we? St. Francis even in his sickness had a heart that his friends would find their vocation, the what is mine to be done for the Lord.

As wonderful as friendships are this is one of the most difficult areas for me. I find small talk difficult, but it is the initiation ceremony to pave the way to make friendships. Then there is the leap of faith. How to take friendships beyond the superficial acquaintance stage, being aware of the green light to go, what is the signal that tells you to befriend a person? It is being aware or discerning, and open to the gift God gives with the connections we encounter.

Then are we even aware, do we see where friendships are blooming? For the growing of friendship, there has to be a willingness to get to know people, you to know them, and they to know you? It takes time and effort, time which we don’t have a lot of these days, and endurance, sticking with the process and making the effort! It is worth it, I have to convince myself!

A number of years ago a friend gave me a cassette, demonstrating that this was a few years ago, when leaving my home town to go to college. I was losing a friend or the circumstances and availability of the friend was changing. But our friendship continued, and continues still to this day, the words of the song are poignant for me.

Michael W. Smith – Friends Are Friends Forever

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through

But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end

Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

With the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you’ll live in
Is the strength that now you show

But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end

Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

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Making friends is a spiritual practice.

What kind of friend are you to God and others?

Do you cut yourself of from others?

Who do you talk to about your spiritual life?

Do you have a friend to turn to, in a time of crisis?

We can never be perfect as a friend. We have limitations and flaws. List your current limitations (physical, time, emotional, etc.).

Do you want a spiritual friend enough to rearrange your life to have one?

“Spiritual friendship is not an easy path. It winds through the rigors of giving and receiving love to the very end. It lays down convenience and dies to self for the sake of the friend.” Pg. 153.

The quote and some of the questions taken from Spiritual Disciplines Handbook By Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.