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Listening for God: Children’s Camp

I’m listening. How often could we catch ourselves saying this but not really be present in the space of listening. I know that I am guilty of saying it as I multitask throughout the day, most especially during dinner preparation–while I am cooking and answering emails, homework is being done, sports equipment is being searched for, and tales from the day are being shared. In these moments, I realize that listening seems to have become something we all do, while doing something else.  

So, if we aren’t listening with our full attention, could we hear when God is speaking to us?  

Recently, I had a long weekend to think about listening as I chaperoned the first-ever diocese-wide children’s camp at Camp Stevens. If you have ever been to camp, you probably know that the current world around you seems to fall away while you are there. Stresses, task lists, and even deep anxieties are no match for the fun-loving, peaceful environment of camp. It is perhaps why I was a 5-week camper and counselor for a decade of my life…the world of camp is magic. Camp allows us to truly grow, find ourselves, and listen to the world around us. During this retreat, we did just that…we listened! 

Thirty-eight children, ranging in grades 3rd-6th, signed up to be a part of this 3-day, 2-night adventure. The weekend carried a theme of “Listening for God” with scripture from Mark 9:2-8. Our days were filled with hikes, games, small group time, delicious family-style meals, crafts, and tons of laughter. Our nights were filled with warm fires, songs, folk dancing, stargazing, and whispering while beginning to fall asleep. In all of those spaces, we listened. We listened to each other as we got to know our fellow campers, we listened to each other as we checked in on how we were feeling throughout the day, we listened as we learned new skills like needle felting and archery, we listened as we heard about the plants and animals around us like the giant pinecones, acorns, pigs and deer. And we listened to each of us say “God Loves You” as we passed out friendship bracelets before departing. In all of the listening, we heard back, “God loves you too”.  

But we didn’t just listen with our ears, we challenged ourselves to experience God with all 5 of our senses throughout the weekend. During our Sunday worship with Canon Gwynn and Charlette, we reflected on how we had experienced God during our time at camp on giant posterboards. The statements that were shared easily answer the question of why we should listen to begin with. Because, like camp, the answers were magic.  

“I saw how much God loves us through his beautiful creation around us: the deer, my favorite tree to climb, our homemade bridge at Cow Pond, the mountains, and the kindness of my peers. I tasted God’s love in the honeycomb, tea, camp dinners, and smores. I felt God’s love in new and old friendships, hugs, my chaperones, soft wool, and the games we played. And through the sounds of the chickens, wind, crickets, and laughter, I heard God.” 

I’m listening. When I say these words now, they will forever hold more weight. After a weekend of listening with all five of my senses at camp and witnessing this practice in nearly 40 campers, how could they not? God’s love is everywhere because God is love. We just have to listen, look, smell, taste and see. 

Find out more about EDSD’s Formation opportunities at www.edsd.org/formation.

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Category: #Worship & Formation, #Youth, Children, & Families

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