The classic all-time assignment given at the first of every school year, according to legend, is the "What I Did This Summer" paper. It has little to do with what you actually did, but rather it is intended to give the teacher some idea of just what your writing and spelling skills are.
I was never one to write about camp because I didn't go to camp as a child or even in my adolescent years. My summer paper assignment would have read like all the others in my neighborhood. Something to this effect: "I had a good summer. Summer was good because we went on vacation and went to Astroworld. We also went to Astros baseball games in the Astrodome. I caught fish at our bay house. I went to my friends' Donald and David's house and played. That is why I had a good summer."
The world of blue collar workers along the Port of Houston was not filled with much time or money to send kids to camp, and in truth, our youth group at church was rather pathetic. Consequently, there wasn't even an opportunity to go to camp put forth by the church. So, it hasn't been until later in life that I have become acquainted with youth camp. Yet Hope Lutheran, our church, has built a fine youth program via a pastor and volunteers who give of their time to provide engaging and meaningful activities to our youth, one of which includes an annual camp in the southern portion of Palo Duro Canyon known as Ceta Canyon. So, here is my assignment for this upcoming school year in Miss Easterlin's second grade class, (my actual teacher in second grade) who was known for her stern and fierce gaze that gave the warmth of a piece of steel in January in Alaska. We didn't want to disappoint Miss Easterlin because she carried a paddle with her everywhere she went and executed the swat in mid-stride and kept walking.
"This past summer, we took a considerable number of youth from our church to camp in Ceta Canyon for our annual youth camp. Our congregation, Hope Lutheran Church and School, sent about 28 youth, seven adults to be counselors and lead music, and one pastor. The theme of the camp was 'The Reformation - After 500 Years It Is Still About Jesus.'
"And it is still about Jesus after Luther spelled out the true foundations of eternal life as found in scripture: Faith Alone; Scripture Alone; and, Grace Alone (Sola Fide, Sola Scriptura, Sola Gratia). In each of these concepts, we find that Christ gives us the gift of faith through His Holy Spirit. It is scripture that is the basis of this faith, not man, and this faith in Christ alone is what gives us the grace needed for eternal life. Our Bible Studies and Spiritual Growth time, about four hours each day, were dedicated to this important concept. It was important then and still is today because we still have people who will insist that works and other such regulatory acts (like indulgences) are still needed to obtain faith. Luther risked life and limb for speaking against such practices and yet this belief still exists.
"We also played games dedicated to exhausting our youth so that the adults would fall asleep by 2 am and the youth would then commence to plotting and planning their next prank. These games are also meant to give youth an opportunity to get to know one another and their counselors which deepens the relationships in an appropriate manner. One phenomenon that may take an anthropologist to answer or study is the ever present desire to eat that exists in youth. Snack before breakfast or on the way to breakfast, eat breakfast, come back to the room and open another bag of chips, donuts, or some healthy snack, grab a water or drink, go play and learn, then eat, snack, and eat some more. The kids in Uganda get porridge, and the kids in America get Doritos and other such snacks to fill the void left by a high carb and protein diet provided by the camp mess hall.
"In a nutshell our faith and its future has promise because it is in the hands of God, but there are faithful youth who will take this faith when our generation and others have moved on to the heavenly realm. While we may bemoan younger generations, activities like camp always give me reassurance in these kids who have dedicated a portion of their summer to being active in God's kingdom."
I'm certain Miss Easterlin would read this, grade it, and write a comment along the lines of "may want to think about how you organize your work." She'd probably swat my behind as well because of the look I gave her when I saw her comment on my paper.
That's what we did this summer at camp.
Hope Men's Ministry