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Ten Days Out…Ten Reasons for Thanksgiving

Our Senior High camp ended ten days ago, and over the last ten days, we’ve been giving thanks for the these  ten gifts we received during the week of camp.IMG_2180

1. Voices raised in song:   During chapel each morning, and at each evening’s campfire and compline, the voices of our campers spilled out over Flathead Lake.  Teenagers are stereotypically passive and resentful, but our Senior Higher campers challenged the norm by engaging enthusiastically…even as we joined in ‘The Hippo Song.”

2.  Hard questions and engaging discussions:   Even though we set aside two hours each day for group reflection and conversation, campers complained that they didn’t have enough time for conversation!  During “Life Together Time” each day, our campers eagerly explored the ways that Scripture and the tradition of the Church challenged them, gave life to them, and raised questions for them.

3.  Sailing excursions: P1010744 Thanks to the help of Phil Healey of Taylor Sailmakers, we got our sailboat into the water this season, and enjoyed several beautiful sailing trips  during the week of Senior High Camp.  We also learned some new sailing skills.P1010747

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Ultimate Frisbee:  We played lots of Ultimate during Senior High camp, but the fabled Staff v. Camper match-up was a highlight of the week.  Bishop Brookhart led us onto the playing field behind the Episcopal flag, and after a hard-played patch, the campers won 7 to 5.

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5.  Table fellowship:  During lunch and dinner our campers were free to share meals with anyone on camp, and over the course if the week, all sorts of combinations of campers shared a meal and conversation with one another.

6.  Kayaking on the lake:  Early morning paddlers enjoyed calm waters and eagle sightings.  Ttwo groups of senior high campers paddled all the way to Wild Horse Island!P1010754

7.  Campers who serve:  Our Senior High campers gave generously to one another and to the camp through their service.  Some campers spend an afternoon pulling noxious weeks from the camp property, others spend an evening assisting the kitchen staff in preparing, serving, and cleaning up from dinner.  Our senior cabin took time to write a letter of encouragement to every camper on camp.

8.  Heartfelt prayers:  Campers asked chaplains, their counselors, and their fellow campers to join them in prayer throughout the week.  The hillsides of camp became places of prayer, places in which campers stopped and turned to God.  We give thanks for the prayers campers and staff offered at camp, and trust that campers continue to turn to God even after they return home.

9. Campership” support:  We’re grateful for the generosity of parishes who helped send many of their Senior High students to Camp Marshall.  Ten more Senior High campers (including two former Grace Campers) requested financial support directly from Camp Marshall.  We are grateful that these ten amazing teenagers could participate in the week of camp, and we are still seeking funds to pay for their camp experience.  Make a donation today to support one or more of those campers.IMG_4538

10. Friendships that sustain our campers even after camp concludes.  Relationships born at camp grow in wonderful ways even after camp concludes.  We give thanks for the unexpected friendships that took root during this year’s Senior High session, and for the ways our campers continue to encourage one another even after camp has ended.

Prayers of the People

 

During this week’s Jr. Middler II session, our oldest group of campers wrote the prayers of the people for chapel:

 

*God we pray for the church worldwide.  We ask you that divisions amongst ourselves would cease, and that we will understand one another better.  We ask that the church helps people and does not hurt them.

 

*God we pray for our government.  Please guide them to make wise decisions, especially financially.  We ask for world peace and a chance for all of our soldiers to come home.  Thank you for their brave service.  Thank you for our freedom. 

 

*God we pray for anyone struggling with depression or addiction.  Get them through the tough time to a brighter future ahead.  Give them hope.  Help them not give up.

 

*God we pray for our own generation.  Help us each to have a better self-image and believe in your love for us. Help us to know our own gifts and use them for you.

 

Amen.

Day Camp in Lewistown

 Head Counselor Janelle FulleIMG_2759r reflects on a week spent in partnership with four churches in     Lewistown, as she and other staff led a day camp for nearly fifty children.
 
What do you get when you combine 44 children (all nine and under), 22 volunteers, a 6 hour drive, 5 Camp Marshall staff and 4 different churches?  YOU GET AN AWESOME DAY CAMP, THAT’S WHAT!
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On a hike together.

Over the last week, five members of Camp Marshall’s staff traveled to Lewistown to lead a day camp for a group of amazing kids.  We worked alongside volunteers from Lewistown’s Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches to bring summer camp to kids who can’t travel across the state to attend Camp Marshall.  Each of the participating parishes  sent kids and volunteers to join together in worship, service, learning, and celebration.

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Spinning wool

   Throughout the week we ate, sang, played, learned and worked together.  Some of our highlights were getting to go on a hike at the fish hatchery, a very funny  skit responding to John’s gospel story about the raising of Lazarus, a visit from a sheep farmer and seeing wool spun into yarn, serving the community through various work projects, AND getting to build and ride on a float for the 4th of July parade!
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A lamb walking behind the “Great Shepherd of the Sheep” themed float.

Our week together was action packed, and we are thankful for the opportunity to be a part of it.  It was especially encouraging to see so many individuals from parishes working together to raise up children in faith.   It was a gift to spend time with God’s people in Lewistown!

Unexpectedly blessed: a camp volunteer reflects on Grace Camp

IMG_8158In the paragraphs below, Janie Koch, Director of Youth Ministry at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Billings, offers her reflections on a week at Camp Marshall’s Grace Camp session.  
IMG_7045This week’s campers have seen and experienced the good, the bad, the funny and amazing, and the heartbreaking aspects of life. But this week, for a week, they come to Grace Camp to simply be kids.
Some notes on our experience together:
Benediction: God blesses us. He gives us the rain and the sun. He offers people to us with whom we are instant friends, and he offers those who instantly challenge us. He provides us with opportunities to learn from one another before we could make a mistake. God’s blessings are boundless…we only need to look up and look out.
What have we all learned? (That question applies to campers and counselors alike.) We have learned not to judge a book by its cover. We have learned techniques in painting. We have expressed ourselves through music. We have also learned that the best memories can be made during the most dreary, soggy, rainy afternoons.Grace Camp Polar Bear
Benediction: We bless God. We follow his desire to love one another. We obey his commandments. We thank God for the sunshine and the rain. We sing praises to him, even when the song involves a hippopotamus! We forgive someone when they have hurt us. We have learned a bit more patience than we started with. We have made sock puppets. We have all learned to open up and share one another’s burdens.
Benediction: We bless others. We show one another how to play the guitar or how to thread a needle or how to write a letter or how to make friendship bracelets. We listen. We pray. We laugh. We trust and prove ourselves trustworthy. We realize that just because we are different does not mean that differences separate or divide us. We have performed in front of one another in the talent show and gone polarbearing (jumping into Flathead Lake even before the sun comes up!).
Benediction: Others bless us. We allow others into our lives. We accept friendship and love and hugs. We allow God to fill us with His love and grace through the smiles and cheers and high fives of those that God places before us. The best definition of this week’s ‘benediction’ theme was offered by a child we thought was not fully engaged in the activities of the week and who appeared to struggle with the discussions and interactions with other campers. At the end of the week, after all the skits, songs, sermons, and activities about benediction and IMG_2759blessings, this child — without hesitation — said, “A blessing is  when God is lovin’ on you!”
May our mighty God continue to bless these children as they return to their homes, May God show God’s grace and mercy and strength to them every day, and may they know that our Heavenly Father continues to shower them with blessings!