the role of camps

June 30, 2007

Blogging really is a discipline. I’m really struggling to get back into the habit after all these weeks of simply not getting around to it.

Today holiday really started. I’m sitting here, and there is really nothing that I need to do tomorrow! Or the day after. Or for the next week. I’ll be reading all the books which I never get around to, and if I don’t read them, then that’s OK as well. I’m at Hartbeespoortdam with Maryke and her family. This is the first time I’ll be on holiday with them, and we’ve been in a relationship for more than 4 years now.

On our way here we COMPLETELY missed the road. We more than doubled the distance! That was after Maryke told me with great certainty not to take the road which was the correct one. The conversation that came out of this really got me thinking, no, not about our relationship, but about some other things. I mean, that is one of the greatest things in our relationship, that she challenge me to think about things. Maybe one day I’ll tell the story in more detail.

OK, so I attended an adventure camp for 14-15 year old kids the past week. Got me wondering about camps. Again! Why do we keep on doing it? Does it really make a difference? What part of camps is really making the difference?

Brian McLaren talk about camps as a new way of a monastic experience in New Kind of Christian. I think there is something in what he says. We get away from life and get some time to just spend practicing our faith. Yes, I think practice is the correct word. We practice our faith, so that it will be more real in our lives whes we get back. Well, maybe that’s the ideal.

Personally, I know that camps have had a major influence in my life. But why? And how? Maybe it was the people I met, the relationships that formed. But looking back I can’t pinpoint one event that made all the difference. Who wrote that poem saying:
Two roads diverged in the wood
And I, I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference

I can’t look back and pinpoint the place where the roads diverged, and where I took a certain road. But somehow, I know that camps plated a major role.

On Wednesday we let the whole group absail down one of the cliffs. Around the afternoon, when it was one of the girls turn, she decided that she couldn’t do this. By late afternoon she came around to another event which I facilitated. At this event she got forced to push her limits just a little bit further, going a bit higher than she thought possible, walking over poles and stuff. In the reviewing afterwards, it came out that she didn’t do the absail, and so I asked her whether she thought it would be possible to try it now, now that she have already some of the other items. So she agreed. So we saw this girl, with her fear of heights, go down an absail. I do believe that this moment would be remembered.

I saw the effect an experience like this could have on someone about 5-6 years ago on a camp, when a girl in my team pushed her own limits, her fear of heights. No, she didn’t overcome her fear of heights, but she faced it, and started pushing it further and. Halfway through the day, she was able to face the highest event on the terrain. She was scared to death, but the fact that she was able to do it, remained with her, yes, even today. We became very good friends over the years, and over and over again, we would visit that day, and find meaning in what happened.

Yes, I believe that camps can have a lasting effect, but I’m still not sure what it is that cause this effect.

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