Saturday morning dawned with a beauty seldom surpassed. The temperature was somewhere between great and perfect. The kind of day in which unhappiness can only come as a deliberate choice. Yes, that is an overstatement but pretty sure you get the point. It was a beautiful day in which to do outside work at Slumber Falls UCC Outdoor Camp.
I was part of a team tearing down an old cottage named Dun Wunderin’ whose number of days had run out at least a few years ago. The setting of the old cabin is beautiful, looking down at the river below with the sounds of rushing waters filling your ears with creation’s melody. Of course, the old cabin had its share of dirt, dust, and spiders in prodigious numbers. Nevertheless, through the efforts of the team with the young guys mostly on the roof… down came the cabin. The old cabin had served its purpose; hence the occasion was one of joy.
There is, I believe, a lesson to be learned from this experience. We build what we build for the purposes God places in our lives. In pursuit of those divine purposes, what we have built by the sweat of our brow is in the end, used up. Again, by the sweat of our brow, we tear down. In this case, we retained the foundation for what at some point will be a new cabin. The reality is that concrete lasts a lot longer than wood. The foundation remains ready to serve our vision of the future.
What is the future of Slumber Falls camp anyway? In a word, I would say “bright.” Wednesday afternoon I will begin meeting at Slumber Falls with 60+ clergy from the South Central Conference. During our time together, we will be discussing what we believe should be the priorities of our Conference over the next 10 years. The beginning point of these discussions came from a meeting with the Conference Board of Directors and revolves around spiritual renewal for clergy and lay persons, planting new congregations and renewing old ones, and living out the justice witness as manifested in Jesus Christ. So how might Slumber Falls fit into this discussion?
Research shows that the camp experience correlates with very significant spiritual experience. Young people who attend camp frequently return happier, more confident, and possessing a new or enhanced relationship with others and with God. Personally, I am convinced that the same dynamic can and will hold true with adult campers as well.
The future of the SCC is heavily dependent upon its people living out of a robust spiritual relationship with the divine. There is no more likely setting for this to grow and flourish than in the outdoor camp setting. Consequently, I would envision, under the able leadership of Jeremy Albers, our Camp Director, an increasing number and type of activities at camp that will help all of us to grow closer to God and to one another.
It is not a coincidence that Jesus, after having performed some challenging act, would withdraw to the countryside to renew himself in the Spirit. The cycle of action, reflection, and renewal is a time-tested methodology for the healthy spiritual life. The ideal setting for this dynamic is, in my opinion, in the lap of God’s creation. As it is written in Psalms, “The heavens are declaring the glory of God.” Slumber Falls is a glorious place.