In middle school I was a camper at Stony Lake for three summers. In college I was a counselor at Stony Lake for two summers. Fifteen years ago I was hired by Living Water Ministries as Director of Stony Lake and Marketing, and ten years ago I became Executive Director. For twenty summers of my life (excluding summers spent volunteering for a week or bringing kids to Stony Lake and Michi-Lu-Ca as a Youth Director), I have known the hustle and bustle of camp life in this place. The routine of preparing the facility, hiring staff, creating programming, and recruiting campers is deeply baked into my DNA. Our site at Stony Lake was founded in 1945, and if the routines are baked into my DNA after only twenty years, they are most certainly baked into the soil of this place after seventy-five years of operation.
A summer without camp is such an incredibly foreign idea that I don’t think I have my mind around it yet. It feels unnatural. A summer without camp feels like a car with no tires. It just feels incomplete. I’m not sure that feeling is going to subside, or that I want it to.
Human beings are wired to be in community. It’s one of the ways we are made in God’s image. Within God’s self is an expression of community in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and within each of us is a connectedness to God and the world around us. The camp experience is one that creates space to discover that connectedness and to experience it with one another in community. Through the camp experience we learn to see God more clearly in the world around us, to discover God in the face of our neighbors, and to even experience God’s presence within ourselves. Witnessing faith come alive at camp is what draws me to this work, and it is has been what has fueled these first seventy-five years of ministry at Stony Lake.
Even though the 2020 summer season isn’t happening, the work before us at Living Water Ministries is immense. We’re having to step out of the comfort of our routines and invent new strategies for engaging community, strengthening our operations, bolstering our fundraising efforts, and innovating programs. Because the routines have been shattered, the work feels very uphill and at the same time pretty exciting. The dismantling of routines creates the opportunity to look at things from a new perspective, to see new possibilities, and to rediscover purpose.
The work of Living Water Ministries, at its very core, is about sharing the gospel with others. Primarily, we do this work in and through experiences of Christian community, but how we do this work has been interrupted. As we navigate the ways in which the world has changed and will be changed as a result of COVID-19 we will be doing so with an eye for how we stay true to the essence of who we are and who we are called to be. While it is too early to know all the ways in which the world will be different as a result of this pandemic, it feels right to say that returning to what was “normal” isn’t realistic. A new “normal” is emerging, and I am confident that the work of bringing people together in Christian community to transform lives and the world will still be a relevant, needed part of our life together. I’ll leave you this week with words from Isaiah 43:19 that speak to God’s work in times like these.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
May we all be part of the new thing God is springing forth in the wilderness of this pandemic.
Peace be with you,
Living Water Ministries