Fading Tail lights…
Up from the amphitheater, campers and their counselors wander back towards their cabins after closing worship. Parents, trying to keep up, find themselves stuck behind the tide of children and young adults. Eventually, everyone: campers, counselors, and parents, make their way back to cabins. Contact information is exchanged, goodbyes are shared, cars are loaded. One by one, headlights and tail lights disappear down the dark driveway, making the journey back into the real world, returning campers to their lives outside of camp. The flow of cars leaving slows to a trickle, until one last car disappearing down the hill indicates that all are gone…
This summer, I was given the opportunity to return to the place that has made such an impact in my faith life as well as my discernment. Lutherlyn, a Lutheran church camp north of Butler, PA is a place that I, and many other young adults, consider to be a second home. Starting in 2006, I have worked 7 of the last 9 summers on staff at camp, serving in a variety of different roles. When I found myself needing something to do this summer, waiting for my internship to start in August, it was a joy and reassuring comfort to hit “submit” on an online application, even moreso to hear the words of Deb, the associate director telling me, “we’d love to have you back, we can definitely find a place for you.”
One week of pre-summer preparations with the summer’s leadership team, two weeks of training with the entire staff, and seven weeks of life-changing adventures in faith for campers of all ages brings us almost, but not quite, to the end of the summer. Next week, as we prepare to wind down and put camp into “off-season” mode, we welcome one last group of campers: a half-week of “family camp” for our rostered leaders in the NWPA and SWPA synods of the ELCA.
Just two weeks from today, I will move onto the next chapter of my life, putting my dog in the backseat of my Jeep, and most of my belongings in the back of a Uhaul, I will depart for Cumberland, Maryland, where I will begin my year-long internship as Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in LaVale, MD.
As I pack that truck, the one thing I won’t have to pack are the lessons learned at camp, and the lessons I’m learning because of camp. That second part is important because some of the things that camp teaches you aren’t discrete, one-time lessons. For the more than two-thirds of my life during which I’ve been a camper and staff member, camp has taught me many things, but the verb teaching is not powerful enough in the past-tense.
Camp has continuously, and will continue to teach me things for the rest of my life. In less than a week, my own tail lights will join the procession out of camp, and in two weeks, that same Jeep will head over the mountains to Maryland, but even still, camp will be a part of me, will be teaching me, and hopefully, before too long, those tail lights disappearing down the driveway, will be headlights coming up, leading me back to this place that means so much to me.