With all the things going on in the world, prayer is more important than ever before.  At camp, people from all places and walks of life come together in prayer every day.  It’s a powerful way in which the community leans on God and each other.  One of our long time campers, Maddie, shares how camp has expanded the meaning of prayer in her life.  Her words are extremely important as we all lift our voices in prayer during this time of pandemic and racial unrest.

Before going to camp, I always saw prayer as something that was best done alone. Deep down, I felt like there could be more you can do with prayer. I want to explore more ways of praying, but I didn’t know where to start. I was longing to be invited.

Camp has given me the opportunity to learn there is power in praying with other people. One thing I will never forget about my first year of camp is learning what it meant to interdigitate. Everytime we pray together and open our hands for each other, we are reminded that other peoples’ strengths cover our weaknesses. Praying by holding hands this way helped me feel supported and loved; this is truly powerful.

I’ve always felt the open arms of the camp community. You never have to worry about being excluded when you’re at camp. Everyone is welcome at camp because we are all called by God. Everyone is encouraged to pray together, too. Each time I interdigitated with someone new at camp, I felt more inspired to invite people to pray with me.

I have learned many other ways to pray at camp and at the Great Lakes Gathering. You can pray by coloring, painting, focusing on a specific part of the world, writing in sand, piecing together random words, and singing songs. Those are just some of the many ways you can pray during quarantine. Personally, I’ve been thinking and praying a lot while dancing in my basement.

In Luke 6:12-16, Jesus went to a mountain to pray all night. When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve, who were called apostles. Just as Jesus found a sacred place to pray, we can, too. Finding the right place to feel comfortable to pray is important. I’ve experienced what it’s like to pray in different ways and in many places at camp. For me, going outside to pray helps me feel peaceful and connected with God in all the beauty around me.

In our current situation, we aren’t able to gather together and cover each others’ weaknesses with our strengths. I miss that a lot. We can still hold on to other things that make praying so special to us. Prayer can help lift our spirits during this time. God acts through all of us when we pray for one another to stay healthy and safe. We can spend this summer praying in preparation for when we can be together at wonderful Stony Lake.

To keep myself praying outside of camp, I keep a piece of rope from camp on the door handle of my bedroom. When I walk into my room, I am reminded of the comfort I feel when I’m praying at camp. My family and I pray before dinner, not only out of gratitude for our food, but out of gratitude for everyone who’s done their part and more to stop the spread of the virus.

I encourage you all to continue praying for the day we can all be with each other again. I’m looking forward to the day where we can interdigitate our hands and pray together.

Your fellow camper,
Maddie Smith