This week I’m at camp. It’s lovely. The diocese in which I serve is blessed to own it’s own camp in gorgeous setting of Riding Mountain National Park, and we have programmes run for children and youth every summer.
So this week, I’m with a great group of 10-12 year olds, and aside from having crazy amounts of fun, our theme is on God’s great creation. It’s a fun time to see what the kids know about environmental protection, and to watch them making a connection between that and their faith.
One of our first activities for ‘Jesus Time’ was to get to know your space. I invited the kids to go outside for 10-15 minutes and find a space to call their own. They were asked to find somewhere where they could stretch out their hands and not touch anyone else. Then, have a seat, and get to know what’s there.
When we came back, they had really engaged. They had found bugs, they had found various plants, they had found patterns in the rocks and bark and twigs. And they were asking questions about them – how did they form that way, what kind of bug was that, how many 4-leaf clovers were found, &c.
It was great to see these kids getting WOWed by nature. It was great to see them being inspired and engaged and curious. It was great to see them getting to know their place a little bit better. I hope that this will stay with them – that sometimes if you slow down and leave the distractions of modern life, that there are wonders in nature just waiting to be found.
It’s like God’s treasure hunt for us, I told the kids. But it’s not just a kids’ idea. It’s a chance for all of us to get to know our space a little bit better. It’s a chance to see what treasures are hiding in our midst, waiting to be found and celebrated. It’s a chance to get to know more intimately the world that supports and sustains us – and hopefully a chance for us to care more deeply about that space so that we will take action to protect it.
The theology is simple – God made the creation, and us as part of it. So when we destroy God’s creation, we are insulting God. When we look after God’s creation, we are living out our mission. The more we know our place within God’s creation, the more capable we will be to care for it. The kids understood it – at least here at camp – maybe we all need to learn from it, to take some time and learn our place, to know our surroundings, to see what it is that God has declared Good for us.
How do you teach children about creation care? How do you encourage adults to engage their faith through Creation Matters?