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Why Urban Camp?

July 10, 2019
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If you’ve ever been to FirstChurch on a summer weekday, you know the entire building is teeming with energy – KID ENERGY. There are squeals and giggles and running and cheering – all the things that a day camp should have. Our brave camp leader, Rev. Evan Jones, talks below about the little blessings he sees amongst the holy chaos, and how that makes it all worth it. 

We are a little over the halfway mark for this year’s Urban Camp. This is the third year that we have had about 100 campers per week for the 10 weeks of summer.  Urban Camp has changed and grown and adapted over the last three years and it has been an incredible outreach tool for the church. We continue to see new families register every year.

Our staff for the summer is absolutely incredible. These college-age students work 10 -plus hour days for five days a week for 10 weeks in the summer. For many, this is their summer break from school. These are long days and when we get to the “dog days of summer” we all really start to feel it. I must confess that there is a lingering thought that creeps into my mind every year on week six…. Why?  Why do we spend so many hours, sleepless nights, long planning and boundless energy  on this program?

Yet, every year on week six something happens. It is one of the most compelling reasons that I continue to spend the energy on Urban Camp, and in reality, the primary reason that I spend so much energy in ministry.

It’s the light bulb.

Specifically the lightbulb moment.

Sometimes it is faith-related and other times it is not, but inevitably on week six there is a moment in which I get to stand in front of a child as a tiny light bulb goes off in their head.  In past summers it was the first time that a camper visited the Dallas Museum of Art or learned about John Wesley’s understanding of Grace. This week it happened to be about meatballs.

Yep, meatballs.

In cooking camp, after we had divided the meat into small bowls,  added the herbs and salt and asked  a group of kindergarteners to plunge their hands into the raw beef, the lightbulb went off.

We threw them into the oven and let them bake. Upon tasting the first meatball they had ever made with their own hands, wide-eyed, they looked up at me and asked “Can I make meatballs at home?”

It may sound trivial or trite, but this is where our adult understanding of the world gets in the way of childlike wonder.  Something that is so routine or easy or ordinary is like an orb opening in a child’s mind. Perhaps they have eaten a hundred meatballs in their life, but had never once considered that they could be a part of the creation.

So it is of faith as well. We continue to bring our children to church in hopes that they might discover a faith of their own, but seldom do we ponder the childlike notion of discovery.

It is my prayer for you, and for me, that God might speak to us through the ordinary and trite and that we might be open to seeing things in a new way. Find new ways that God might be speaking into your life and be open to the new things that God is teaching you.


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