Wilderness represents to many an untamed world beyond our reach. To others, it is a mysterious and scary state of being. Dr. Brené Brown, author and vulnerability researcher, found that while people describe their own wilderness as being uncontrolled and vast they also find it to be “a place of true belonging, and the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.” When asked about wilderness experience at Camp Stevens, a summer camper stated, “At camp, I lose myself and find myself all at once.” Wilderness holds a balance of wonder and struggle, gratitude and challenge, openness and fear, isolation and connection. Entering the wilderness is a core part of the human experience.
Camp Stevens serves as an entry point to wilderness, through peace and beauty as well as opportunities for challenge and personal discovery. Families, kids, teens and adults have come to our sacred space for both respite and renewal. While campfires and climbing walls are meaningful activities, it’s the transferable skills and experiences gained at camp that change lives. The American Camp Association (ACA) reports that 70% of camp parents report their child gaining self-confidence at camp. 93% of campers report that camp helped them get to know kids who were different from them and their families. 74% of campers reported doing things they were initially afraid to do. Campers and their families are embracing their wilderness!
Upon my return to Camp Stevens, I have committed to sharing this gateway to wilderness and personal growth with as many kids and families as possible, regardless of life circumstances or perceived barriers. Last summer, along with our general scholarship campaign, we joined with our partner, RefugeeNet, to send almost 40 refugee kids to camp, fully loaded with camping gear, transportation, and great enthusiasm. We have committed to doing the same this year, raising resources for this partnership at the Campership Ingathering Sunday on either June 17 or 24, whichever your congregation chooses.
Beyond generosity for others, we hope you will join us for a family camp, send a child in your life to summer camp or come for a group or individual retreat. Together we can all embrace our wilderness. +
Contributed by Kathy Wilder, executive director. Visit campstevens.org to learn about programs and opportunities to visit.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 Diocesan Messenger.
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