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! 

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