“It takes a village” is a phrase that is never more true than at a place like camp. Filled with so many different programs, moving parts, and people, the only way something this massive, this expansive, this intentional is possible is by so many different people playing important roles throughout the process.
One of the most visible signs of the Rockmont “village” is seen through the “Deer Camp Expedition”. This journey takes our middle age group of campers (11-12 year olds) in Deer Camp on an extended journey into the wilderness. Both Deer Camp tribes hiked to separate campsites yesterday (Monday), the Hickory Tribe to a full tribal campout and the Hemlocks to a cabin campout. Today, both tribes hiked over 1,500 feet of elevation gain on the way to Eden Rock where they ate lunch and had a Morning Watch (songs and a devotion) at one of the most beautiful spots on camp property.
Following the time of fellowship and food, the tribes continue their journey tomorrow – after all, this wouldn’t be an expedition if it ended so soon. Both tribes continue down the opposite sides of the mountain, and where the Hickory tribe slept the night before, the Hemlocks sleep tonight, and vice versa. This process allows our campers to spend two full nights camping in the wild, and both tribes get the opportunity to experience two different campsites and a hike to Eden Rock. Tomorrow morning, both tribes will eat breakfast and hike back to the center of camp where they will shower, unpack, drop off their laundry, and then get ready for lunch.
Along the way – both figuratively and literally – this not so small undertaking passes through almost every area and program of camp. Our CCC (Camping & Climbing Crew) help to cook food at the tribal campsite, deliver campers and staff extra camping gear, organize water delivery, organize food prep, and provide the necessary logistics. The Nurses prepare medicines for every camper’s meals throughout the experience. Our Kitchen staff makes over 160 sandwiches to deliver to the campsite, as well as lunch bags full of cookies, apples, chips, and more! Our Laundry staff has all of our campers’ dirtied, soiled, and smelly clothes washed, folded, and returned the day after our campers return. Our Photographers come along for the journey, too, which enables our parents to have a first-hand account of their son’s grand adventure. The Hickory campers carry all of the lunch sacks from the tribal site to Eden Rock for not only themselves but for Hemlocks, too – literally caring for their brothers by adding weight to their packs. Not to be left out, even the Horseback staff is involved in this expedition! With the help of the staff and some of Rockmont’s finest horses, we carry the second day’s dinner (and the s’mores too) to the Hickory campers.
Without the willing spirit that resides at the heart of every Rockmont staff member, this type of adventure would simply not be possible. Our village is expansive and willing – for that we are super grateful. However, the expedition is bigger than the people that make it possible. This is a journey that is specific and intentional – the timing, pace, location, and wildness all play vital roles- they are all part of a Deer Camper’s invitation to the next two weeks. As they ascend up the mountain, they do so as recent friends and acquaintances. Some go with questions of their place here, some go with doubt at their success on this campout and hike, some go with fears of what lies in the woods, and some go with longings for mom, dad, and the comforts of home. But…they go.
The power of this journey is that it first is a journey, just as the power of adventure lies in the adventure and as the power of leaving in the leaving. Growth is found in the struggle, in the discomfort, in the unknown, in the challenge, in the doubt, in the fear. With a lot of support, praise, and love, our staff encourage these young men to meet the challenge that the mountain poses and enjoy the struggle. As they push themselves, as they see beautiful sights, as they tell stories next to a fire, as they embrace creation, they also transform, grow, and are moved in ways they never expected. That is what answering a call to wildness does. That is Rockmont’s mission put into action.
As these young men return, they return slightly bigger than when they left.
They return as conquerors of mountains: If they can conquer a mountain, certainly they can conquer a little homesickness. They return as brothers who helped each other accomplish a common goal: after climbing a mountain, cooking food with one another, and getting to know each other at a deep level, friendships and brotherhoods are inevitable. They return as boys who just had a whole lot of fun playing in the woods; the woods are God’s playground and an inexhaustible location for a boy’s imagination to run wild.
All of those stories are welcomed. All of those stories are good. As the campers return with smiles, with tall tales, with a palpable excitement for what is to come, all of camp can take pride in knowing their part in this journey and discovering the ways they were changed for the better by giving of themselves so freely.
All of those stories are why it takes a village and why this village does what it does.
Deer Camp Director
Tonight’s Scripture: Luke 12:22-34
Story: Jesus Provides More than Enough (Part 2)
+ Where do you see yourself in the story?
+ What’s the good news?