Reprinted from the July 2010 Vineyard
Posted March 12, 2013
The following article by Pam Guice originally appeared on page 7 of the July 2010 issue of the Vineyard. Pam served the Diocese of Georgia as the director of the Honey Creek camping program for more than twenty years, retiring after the summer of 2009. At the diocesan convention held in Valdosta in February 2011, she received the Bishop’s Award in recognition of her work with the summer camping program.
Summer Camps at Honey CreekIt is 1932 – the depths of the Depression – and Episcopalians allocate scarce resources to create Camp Reese on St. Simon’s Island. Why? Because children are important in the life of the church. Some twenty years later, Camp Reese, squeezed by development, is moved to the mainland marshes at a significant cost. Why? Because children are important in the life of the church. Currently called Honey Creek, the camp continues its seventy-eight year mission to provide holy time and sacred space for children and youth to experience community, worship and study. For fifty of those years, Christ Church has actively supported and benefitted from the camp program. All of our clergy have made camp a priority. Over 100 families (from Allen, Ariail, Baker, Boatwright…to Warren, Wisenbaker, Wright and Zipperer) have committed time, talent and treasure to support it. Why? Because children are important in the life of the church.
So what are these benefits? We all know that instruction in the Faith is vital to Christian living. That’s why we support Sunday School, VBS and EYC. We can also confess that there are obstacles to regular attendance. If we do participate fully for a year, we would experience about twenty-four hours of religious instruction. One day. Out of 365. If we participate faithfully. Summer camp gives us the chance to “catch up” our obligation to our children.
Another benefit from camp is the exposure to our extended church family. Community. Episcopalians are a minority in the thicket of Christian denominations found in South Georgia. We can become lost in this maze of diversity. If from a small congregation where size will not allow for a regular youth group or Sunday school community, our children may not understand why we worship, believe or act as we do. Camp provides a place and time to explore and experience identity and community. Quick test for adults: How many Episcopal family members do you know in Albany, Augusta, Bainbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Tifton? Your children have enduring friendships throughout our Christian community.
The most important benefit is having the time, space and support to develop a relationship with Jesus. This relationship engenders a wholeness and security that leads to ministry (and not just the ordained kind!). Consider the story of the Transfiguration (Mark 9) where the disciples, who have known about Jesus, finally know Jesus. They want to stay in that sacred space and moment: “Let us build three booths.” But Jesus is not collecting friends for his Facebook page; he is establishing a meaningful relationship that leads into changed lives. It happens at Honey Creek.
Why support summer camp? “Let the children come to me” (Mark 10:14).