Perhaps it’s my reluctance to let go of summer but I’ve been thinking a lot about camp these days and how it has been an important part of our family’s life. When our youngest was a newborn we got to thinking—how do you do vacation with little kids in a way that actually feels like vacation? For those of us with limited funds, the options are few. But going to family camp fit the bill. A week where afternoons are spent at the beach, the kids and adults have their own separate morning sessions and all the meals are cooked for you sounded pretty vacationish to me. So off we went. And continued to go for the next several years. Camp became one of those great almost ‘freebies’ as a parent. Those times when you get to feel like a good parent through very little effort on your part. The times when your kids happily play for hours outside while you get to read your book and/or enjoy a cup of coffee. Or when you get to visit with your friends while the kids all hang out without fighting for more than a few minutes. Camp was all of this and more for a full week.
When we first started going to camp a lot of the rationale behind it was to have an affordable vacation as a family. But over the years I’ve been realizing that camp became something a lot larger to all of us. It was a place where we spent countless gadget free hours outside—swimming in the lake, catching frogs, canoeing, building sand castles, playing wide games, relaxing on the beach. It was a place where we felt we belonged. Right from the beginning, camp felt like home. To all of us. And over the years, as many of the same friends came back summer after summer, this became even more the case. And of course, a week with our friends enjoying conversations on the beach, partaking of the Eucharist, learning through the sessions, and eating meals together reminded all of us that we are part of a larger Christian community and that we were all on this walk together.
I’m not sure if I can measure in tangible ways how my kids have been influenced by camp, but I can’t help thinking that all of this is shaping them as Christians. The dictionary defines osmosis as “an ability to learn and understand things gradually without much effort.” I like this. Good instruction and deliberate teaching are absolutely important. But I think there are also times to let your kids just absorb good things. Where you put them somewhere and just allow them to ‘be’ in that environment,and know that just by ‘being there’ they are learning/growing/being taught some pretty important things. Camp is a place where I know that my family is enjoying God’s creation, spending good time with other Christians, and being reminded that we are not alone in our journey as we seek to follow after Jesus. I’m not sure my kids would be able to verbalize any of this. But the fact that camp is one of their favourite places in the world is enough for me.