Mega Week! (July 30 – Aug 4)

This is the week of camp that we had all been waiting for! The last two years this has been the most attended week of the summer, and campers, counselors, and staff alike were all psyched for it. The fun began on Sunday afternoon when we welcomed everyone off the bus!

The campers had time to settle into their cabins when they arrived after we as a staff went over introductions and rules. The evening was filled with a camp tour, fun stories, the swim test, dinner, and our opening campfire. Our camp theme this summer is “In the Light” and our director, Sarah, talked about how following God’s light isn’t always as bright or cheery as it may seem. Sometimes, it can feel like you’re the only one choosing to speak kindly or be generous. But God’s light is the kind of light that prevails in any darkness, and it is more than worth it every single time we choose to love others the way God does. Later that evening we had our first canteen, and then campers got to play pictionary before heading to bed.  

Monday was our first full day, and it was filled with tons of activities. All the kids got a chance to participate in bible study and 11 o’clock activities, such as field of life, canoeing and others. Lunch was sport themed, and then in the afternoon the kids got to swim at the waterfront where they got to enjoy the raft and the lilypad as well as the waterbees. One of our favorite new activities this year is our Arts & Crafts room, which is a new space attached to the boathouse that was built this spring. The afternoon was filled with swim time, a game, canteen, and plenty of time to bond as a cabin.

Tuesday was just as jam packed as Monday, with mostly the same activities just different games. Our after dinner game was a new one called “Beacons,” which was a total hit, and a combination of so many loved camp games. We really love our traditions at Spirit in the Pines, but that doesn’t mean we don’t come up with new things every year! First year staff member and fun squader, Brock Reading, gave a campfire talk about how important this camp community has been to him over the years. Even though he hasn’t had a lot of challenges in his life so far, hearing his friends’ stories have taught him to how to open up and be his real self. This camp community has also helped him understand how to recognise God at work in his life, in both the good and hard times. Tuesday night is always a fun night because we host a short all camp movie before lights out.

Wednesday morning started off with polar bear swim in the lake, like every morning, but this group of campers has been especially eager and so many people joined polar bear! Their energy is contagious and only seems to be increasing as the week goes on! The 11:00 O’Clock activity choices were more proof of this, as many signed on for the challenge course that we have on our mile long trail in the woods. Each summer we have added new activities out there, and this year it now features a bouldering wall and a spider web. These campers here this week come from many of the same sports teams, and its fun to see them getting to branch out, meet new people, and also deepen those existing friendships. The team building that happens on the challenge course is perfect for all of that! The campfire talk on Wednesday night was given by Lydia, a first year staff member on life squad. Her brother Jack is a second year staff member on God squad, and she talked about how important it is to have role models in your life, like her brother.

Thursday is known as Olympic day at camp, and after a normal morning, after lunch is when it really gets exciting! The whole camp is split up into four Olympic teams, with every cabin having representatives on each team. They started at the waterfront where they competed in canoe racing, canoe sinking and then synchronized swimming and sand castle building. After completing these activities they had some canteen time to refuel before land olympics where they competed in tug-of-war, some relays and a cheer contest. Once olympics were done, they headed back to their cabins to get ready for “dress your best dinner.” If you can believe it, Thursday night at camp is an even bigger highlight than the Olympics in the afternoon! On Thursday night we play a game called “Bonkers,” which for our rising 6th graders is the first time they get to play it, because it is a game for campers who are in middle school or older. This game uses our entire property, and if campers can find all of the “hiders” without getting bonked too often then they win!

After the Thursday night game, the campers migrated over to campfire for our special closing service. Borrowing from a traditional Ash Wednesday service, we all receive crosses on our foreheads with ash from our campfire. Our camp director, Sarah, talked about how ash represents change, and how changes in our lives are always chances. When wood burns in our campfire, it gets a chance to go back into the ground and nourish all the trees around it. Similarly, when we go through changes, even when these changes feel like loses, we can find new nourishing connections in our lives. Every change is a chance for something new to grow in our lives, and sometimes what grows is better than anything we could have imagined beforehand. Thursday night’s campfire talk was given by a first year God squader, Blake Duey, a college sophmore. Blake shared about the Hero’s Journey and how it both starts and ends at home. We go to places like camp to learn things about ourselves that are more elusive in our everyday lives. We discover how to recognize God’s presence in through each other’s stories, and we go home changed and empowered. Blake also shared that sometimes these heroic adventures lead us to places that end up feeling like second homes, and we hope that everyone here knows how much they are loved and a part of this community like a family. 

On Friday the campers and staff got to wake up a little bit later, and then they proceeded to morning worship followed by breakfast. One important thing we shared with all the campers all week, both in large group and in small individual moments, is that there is no right or wrong way to be a camper. The week that each person had was exactly the week that they needed. Maybe they learned a new game, made a new friend, or connected deeply with a counselor or staff member. Whatever the highlight was for each person, what matters the most is that everyone learned more about themselves, and how to love and include everyone, unconditionally, just like God does.

Later in the morning, the campers headed to the chapel for the camp video before they started packing up and cleaning their cabins. After the staff members checked off the cleanliness of their cabins the campers met in the canteen area for all camp clean up followed by a corn dog and hot dog lunch. At this time they also had a chance to buy some last minute snacks and gear for the bus ride home. After everyone was finished eating and both buses were packed up the staff said goodbye to the campers and sent them on their way back to Eden Prairie. 

We had such a fun week this week! Mega week was truly everything we dreamed of, and we are so glad we got to host this specific group of campers this week! We can’t wait to see everyone again next summer!