St. Mary's on the Highlands Episcopal Church
Monday, May 20, 2013
From the June 17, 2012 Newsletter:
Why I Go Back to Camp
Stratt Byars, Jr. High Youth Minister
“For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink,
but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” --Romans 14:17
It has become increasingly prevalent to me in my short time at St. Mary’s-on-the-Highlands that the life of a Youth Minister is exponentially busier than it is commonly perceived. This summer, I will be going on three separate mission trips, participating in VBS, and have set a personal expectation to have the Jr. EYC’s whole program year already planned. In the middle of all that, I’ve accepted a call to and serve at Camp McDowell as a member of the Program Staff for ten days over Senior Camp. Many people tend to think that the summer must be down time for a young Youth Minister, but in this Diocese of Alabama, there truly is no such thing. My summer is busier this year than it ever has been and oddly I am so happy about it.
Many people from all of my peer groups continually ask me why I go back to Camp. They are curious as what it is that will cause me to over-book my summer so that I can spend a few days in the soul-sucking heat and electronic free atmosphere of Camp McDowell. If you have ever experienced this, chances are you can easily answer this question yourself. McDowell is often referred to as God’s Backyard and I find no argument in my experience to dispute that. I find the space and the concrete buildings in the middle of the Bankhead National Forest to be a sanctuary for my soul. I’ve called the place home; I’ve cried there; I’ve laughed there; and I’ve played and worked there. And what I’ve found in my years of visiting and living at Camp, is that I can continually learn from the experiences and relationships that the space has given me.
I believe that God gives God’s people certain sanctuaries where we can truly be God’s Children. I like to refer to these settings as my God Space. For some of you, God Space might be found in a lake property, at the beach, in an episode of Law and Order, on a mountain vacation, floating the river, or serving the poor. I find my God Space most frequently at Camp McDowell. I pray that if you are having a hard time finding your God Space that this summer you will find time to create it or to have God create it for you. As the verse from Romans starts this article, I pray that you will find your joy in the Holy Spirit this summer as you never have before. I have found mine in Camp McDowell and that is why I continue to go back to Camp.