text circle of the beloved over image of residents of the community house

By Charlie Franklin (LT 2013-2016)

4 weeks. Equaling 28 days, or 672 hours. Which then turns into 40,320 minutes-- finally coming to 2,419,200 seconds.

This is how much time I have spent at Episcopal Youth Music Camp (EYMC) throughout my life.

For the past four years I have had the privilege and opportunity to come into an incredible community for one week’s time, or 2,419,200 seconds, and work with some of the most remarkable and astonishing individuals I have met.

Over each of these past four years at EYMC, I have worked as a member of Leadership Team (LT). Leadership Team consists of a handful of college aged individuals who come from a variety of walks of life. Many have come from being campers at EYMC and want to continue to be apart of the community in a new way, though many still come in their first year as LT not even knowing what EYMC stood for.

Although, when they have to go at the end of the week, it is hard to say goodbye. The LT adult directors, who I had met through another amazing church community, Greater Minnesota Teens Encounter Christ (TEC), brought me in after I had graduated high school and invited me to be apart of this new community.

At first I was concerned and timid about what was to come at camp considering I was the “new kid” and I was coming into something completely new for me. Sure, I knew a handful of friendly faces here and there, but for the most part, I knew almost nothing of camp and no one there.

Day one was slightly hectic for me. I was still trying to grasp the schedule as well as the facility itself. Where was I going? Where am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing the thing I am supposed to be doing? Am I doing that thing right? All these questions poured through my head throughout that day. Yet over that day, those 86,400 seconds, I continued to see and hear the same thing, love.

 

"Yet over that day, those 86,400 seconds, I continued to see and hear the same thing, love."

 

At TEC I had learned about Gods love, Agape; His unconditional love for us. At TEC we teach it and then practice it throughout the weekend for all those that are present. At EYMC, this same unconditional love, Agape, surrounds each person and is shared by each individual, both campers and counselors alike.

It isn’t taught by seminar or a tutorial, but by simply living as Christ wanted us to live. It is taught by simply being and carrying out everyday actions that show you care and you are there. EYMC is framed by music, by song, by community, but all this comes together through God’s word and God’s love.

Each week of each year at EYMC has been a blessing in my life and the lives of all of us there. It is both one of the most physically and emotionally draining weeks of your life due to all that is going on, but it is also the most spiritually fulfilling and rewarding weeks of someones life. Being able to see God’s love in action through each person, no matter how big or how small, how old or how young, how vocal or quiet, that love travels through each person and is shared by each individual there. We are taught through scripture, “Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-10 NRSVA).

I can say with complete certainty that each camper, each child, each counselor, each adult present at EYMC is born of God and knows God, because each and every one of them knows love. God works through each person at EYMC. His light enters within them and allows their light to shine all the brighter. He comes in and allows their gifts to be seen and heard. He travels through each and every inch of camp, affecting all that are there to be the greatest selves they can be.

As counselors and LT members, we come in being the “adults” of camp. We are the ones that will be running the show and teaching the campers the different musical arrangements, the lessons of Christ, and the games that we play, among many other teachings. However, this seems to rarely be the case. Each year I am absolutely amazed and impressed by the campers. Each year I am able to learn something new. Actually, I am able to learn many something’s new.

I have been able to grow in my faith over the years with EYMC being a central part of that growth. I have learned more of liturgy, more of scripture, more or God in these four years than I had in the previous seventeen. I was able to increase my leadership skills and capabilities. I was able to learn more musically with all of the musical pieces that take place. I was able to learn more of myself with reflections and boundary breakers with my LT group; as well as learn more of those who I was working with each day, people I had known for years and considered family.

It wasn’t only the activities or the other counselors who were able to teach me something new either, the campers teach us as much as we teach them. Each year it is a privilege to be able to work with each and every single one of them throughout the week, or the 604,800 seconds we share.

You may have noticed that I keep converting the days into seconds. Why do I keep counting down to the very second of each day?

 

"Well at EYMC, every second counts and every second is a blessing to be apart of such an amazing community."

 

It is truly a place where God lets The Holy Spirit run free and run through each person.
It is a place where we have learned to accept others for who they are.
A place where we are able to learn new skills such as playing guitar, or even working on different personal skills such as communication.
It is a place where as draining as it is, is the most rewarding experience for each individual there.
It is a place where friends become family.
It is a place where Gods people can run free, free of hate, free of fear, free of the strains and worries of the world.

Episcopal Youth Music Camp is a safe place- a holy place- a place that we can all strive for. It is a place of God, and for that I am thankful. And now that camp is finished, we may go out into the world spreading the love and joy we have received at EYMC to give to those who may be searching and needing your love and joy.

Eternal God and Father,
by whose power we are created and by whose love we are redeemed:
guide and strengthen us by your Spirit,
that we may give ourselves to your service,
and live this day in love to one another and to you;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.