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This past week my family and I stayed at one of our favorite places in the world, Camp Calumet.  We spend a week’s vacation at Calumet every year.   At the start of the camp session we have a community campfire and we sing songs, watch skits and enjoy the beauty of nature all around us.  At the end of the campfire we sing this song:

“Down Beside the moonlit waters of Lake Ossipee

Lies our beautiful Camp Calumet dear to you and me

Swell the chorus speed it onward till the echo rings

Let our camp go down in history Calumet we sing.”

You may have a place like Calumet, a place you can go to experience the beauty of God’s creation, a place to connect with friends and to remind you of the simple things in life.

We arrived at camp after spending two hours fighting traffic, connected to our phones, listening to the news, and tired from the stress of life.  But that fades away as we looked upon the beautiful lake, gave our friends a hug and settled into our lodge.  We then put away our phones to open a book, we turned off the news and listened to the sounds of our children playing together and we relaxed on the beach as we talked with the people we love most in our lives.

I reflected over my time at camp and realized that I have been coming here for thirty years!  During that time I have come as a camper, a summer staff person, a year round staff person and a chaplain.  I have introduced my wife and children to camp and we have connected with the most amazing people as we experience God’s grace in the people and the place of Camp Calumet.  I would like to share with you this week six lessons that I have learned about my faith from my time at camp over the years and a new realization I have had this past week.

I have learned that God is all around me.  The best thing about camp is that it is set in nature on a lake. I see God in the tress and the flowers, I hear God in the crickets and frogs.  I am completely embraced by God through nature.

I have learned to trust in God.  I have learned to trust God more than anything else in my life because of Camp.  I left college after my junior year because I did not know what I wanted to do with my life.  I started working at camp full time and when I look back at that period of my life I realize how much I trusted Gods grace, love, forgiveness and acceptance.

I have learned to rust in my friends.  My best friends are camp people.  I don’t know what I would do without my friends.  Over the years we have been separated by many miles but we always find our way back to camp and we continue to make new memories with one another.

I have learned that faith comes in many forms.  Calumet is a part of the Lutheran Church, however people of all Faith’s come to camp.  I have learned to respect other people’s beliefs as they respect mine.  I have seen faith practices lived out in a real, meaningful way.  It has opened my eyes to the vastness of God.

Because of camp I have learned to be flexible.  So many parts of our lives are planned.  I have a full schedule and my calendar fills quickly with appointments, reminders, and to do lists.  But things don’t always happen as we plan them.  I have learned to let go and let God have control of my life.  Camp has showed me the most amazing things happen from the places I least expect to experience them.

I have learned that simple can be good.  Over the years I have collected a lot of stuff.  Our house is full of things we want or need.  When I look back to the time that I was on staff I came to camp with my all of my worldly possessions and they all fit in the back of my car.  It seemed life was simpler because of that and I long for the day when I can get rid of all the things that take up space in my life so I can focus on the things that matter, my relationship with God and my relationship with the people that I love.

This past week I was at the pottery shed with my kids and their friends.  We were all trying to make some kind of pottery masterpiece.  I struggled for an hour trying to figure out what to do.  Once I figured out what I wanted to make I tried over and over again to make but failed. I was getting frustrated and upset.  I gave myself on more attempt and I told myself that no matter what happens I am going to keep my creation and be happy with it.  I wanted to create a mug and I started putting it together.  I finished and I looked at what I created and I still was not happy with it.  Then my daughter walks over to me and puts her arm around me and says “I love it daddy, good job.”  In that moment I knew that life was not perfect, that I may see something and think it is terrible but what someone else sees may be beautiful.  I learned in that moment that perfection is unattainable and that I can be happy with what i have in my life and that God blesses each of us with the things that we need. 

Camp is a wonderful place and I am thankful to have it in my life.  I continue to learn valuable lessons about life, about my friends and about my faith.  It is my favorite place.