young girl speaking from a podium

Story from Fiona Ehling

My name is Fiona, I am going to enter my sophomore year of high school this fall, and I saw God in more ways than one at EYQC this summer. I was extremely excited to see my friends that I had made the previous year at camp. When I got there and saw my family at last, I could see God.

The Holy Spirit was shining through their eyes and smiling at me. When I heard that many more campers were joining our little family, I was worried that a bigger group of kids would not be the same. I was proven wrong the very first night. I realized that these middle and high school students were experiencing this camp for the first time. I thought back to my first year at camp and how amazing it was, and how much I loved it. I then wanted to try my very best to make their first year just as special as mine was.

When the rain came, I saw God again. The power of water is so immense and strong that there is no way to stop it once it decides to come. I heard that the road was flooded and I could not believe my ears. The whole camp walked down to the road that had temporarily been transformed into a lake. Seeing the stalwartness of nature, that we completely depend on to survive, proved to me that God was there. It was like she was calling to us, coaxing us out of the protective bubbles we create for ourselves using social media, television, and the Internet. Showing us the power of nature and at the same time reveling its beauty.

Once we realized that we were stuck at One Heartland the question was, "Now what?" The way the adults and staff members answered that question made me see God anew. I never felt scared or worried by the fact that we could not get out, and I could feel by the atmosphere of the camp that the rest of the kids felt the same. The calm, confident, and organized way that the rest of the week played out was incredible. We still got to put our outdoor skills to the test by camping at Eagle Bluff. Somehow we all squeezed into that one campsite. We got to build a fire, cook meals over it, set up tents, and battle the bugs all as planned. The serene ambiance that covered the camp verified that God's calming presence was sweeping over us.

As the end of the week crept silently nearer I became aware of how close we had all become. All thirty campers knew and loved each other down to the bone. I saw God in the way we trusted each other, our teamwork, and our agape love for one another. On Thursday a number of us hiked out into the woods to learn how to build a shelter out of the forest. Two fantastic members of the staff taught us much and guided us. We worked together in what felt like record time to build a lean-to shelter out of big and small sticks and leaves. I was amazed at how willing everyone was to help out and work as a team. God was helping through all of us to work hard and communicate to get the job done.

The last day was the most powerful of them all. We were all praying that we would be stuck for one more night because of the flood; our hopes were drained when we heard that we would be leaving that afternoon. Before the parents arrived we split into boys and girls to have two appreciation circles. An appreciation circle is when everyone says something they appreciate about the first person, and then everyone says something they appreciate about the second person and so forth. This was the most emotional activity I had experienced that week. There was of course lots of crying and laughing. And through both tears and giggles I saw God. She was radiating through every girl in that room. She showed me the amazing power of the absolutely unconditional love that had connected all of us that week. 

Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I've ever done. But of course it wasn't really goodbye. I went on a mission trip this summer to the Rosebud Indian reservation in South Dakota. The people I met there do not use the word "goodbye"; instead they say, "See you again." I am always looking forward to next summer and going to camp again. I am also keeping in mind something that my older sister Emma said in a TEC talk she gave. She said "Do not live for TEC, live by TEC." I use that advice for camp as well. I try my best to have the same spirit and love for others in the real world too. I will always follow my heart and chase my dreams of becoming an Episcopal Minister someday. EYQC has been and will continue to be an amazing experience that will show me God in ways I never thought possible.