Blessed Memories

Blessed Memories

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So, I am a day away from heading to our SNEUCC Silver Lake Camp to serve as Chaplain for Week 5 of this summer’s camping season. A few nights ago, two Deans for the week (Rev. Tina Walker Morin and Tracy Morin) and I began the camp adventure by planning, dreaming and of course, tie dyeing tee shirts!  Nothing says “summer camp” like tie dyeing tee shirts. At least where I came from. And where I came from was “church summer camp”. Let me be clear, I do not believe I would be your Area Conference Minister, or any kind of minister, were it not for the faith formation and leadership development that began at our sister outdoor ministry setting in Connecticut, the American Baptist Churches Camp and Conference Center.

So, all this summer camp planning, purchasing, and prepping is raising up in me the blessed memories of days gone by, days at my “dear summer home,” days where I met God in the faces of counselors and camp staff, days when I learned that it was cool to play guitar and a must if I was going to have a place in the world of camping ministry, days when God WAS love, and God was experienced in the camps beautiful nature-filled surroundings, at the all-camp morning watch, and even at the arts and crafts out-post. These memories, created over decades, from camper, to junior counselor, to camp staff to ultimately Camp Director (post ordination), live within me and continue to inspire and enrich my ministry.

Ahhhhhh... blessed memories! AND as I prepare to return to camp, I remember my first week as Dean at our “summer home,” Silver Lake. And what a week it was! I learned that all the assumptions I had from my Baptist Camp summers were not easily transferable to the Silver Lake camp program. I had to completely relearn how things were done in the dining hall for instance. It took me a few days to realize that because the campers knew I wasn’t up to speed on the “how to’s” of everything Silver Lake, they did take advantage of my lack of experience. I won’t go into the details of their antics, just know it was a “live and learn” experience for me! And that week as Dean at Silver Lake reinforced again for me the importance of outdoor ministry in the overall faith formation ministry we do as churches, associations and as a Conference.

And so, even now I am packing my ukulele, my hand drum, my tie-dyed shirts, my walking shoes, my morning reflections, and a heart filled with hopeful anticipation about what holy magic might happen amidst the cedars, the smiles, and the campfires. My prayer is that week 5 will be one that will leave all campers and staff with hearts and minds filled with blessed memories that will carry them through until Silver Lake 2023.

Friends, for me it was church summer camp that formed my faith and gave direction and meaning to my life. What nurtured you? What blessed memories linger within your heart that help you remember that “you are loved, you are God’s, you belong, and that what you do matters?” And when was the last time you tie-dyed a tee shirt, just because?

This week please pray for all of us at Silver Lake; for health and friendships, for transformed hearts and opened minds, for cool swims in the lake and late-night walks under the stars and for unexpected God moments and a good night's rest. And from the porch of my Chaplain’s cabin, I will pray for all of you as well. Have a blessed week!!
 

Author

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Patty Kogut

Patty Kogut is the Area Conference Minister for the Southeast Region of the Southern New England Conference, assisting with pastoral searches and transitions, providing support for churches and pastors and working with Association committees in the ...

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