Beloved Community at Episcopal Youth Quest Camp
By: Sarah Barnett, Missioner for Children, Youth and Camp
We truly had an amazing week together at EYQC (Episcopal Youth Quest Camp). Our time together at Camp Miller Sunday through Wednesday gave us the tools and built the beloved community we needed to be successful on our "incredible quest" to Jay Cooke. We had talked about our own God-given superpowers, we had seen how powerful an encouraging community can be when we all bring our real selves to it, and we had discovered that hard things are also good things and that God heals and uses our brokenness too.
When we woke up on Thursday morning we ate an early breakfast and got on bikes and hit the munger trail by 9:30am. Six adults rode with the six bike groups, and the other six adults parked cars at our pit stops with water and snacks. The worry about afternoon showers ultimately dissipated as we stayed north of the rain the whole way as we biked north. Only our last group (which I was in!) got about 10 minutes of rain at the very end of the ride. Then while we were setting up our group campsites we just had manageable, intermittent light sprinkles. It was so inspiring to see all the kids work together, set up tents, cook macaroni and hotdogs, and then reflect around the campfire on how their friendships and their faith had sustained them during our bike ride.
On Friday morning we cooked pancakes and sausages on our homemade coffee can stoves. Then we explored the beautiful sights around Jay Cooke at kettle river, on the trails, and near the swinging bridge. In the afternoon we shuttled kids in our staff cars up to the launch site for whitewater rafting with Swiftwater Adventures. This was another place the kids learned to lean into beloved community one another, paddle hard with their team, and find all kinds of joy and adventure in nature. One camper was just so shocked that Minnesota had these kinds of rivers and landscapes. He had thought it was pure farmland ????.
On Friday evening we all returned to Jay Cooke for our final eucharist and campfire. Our last theme was "Give - Your incredible mission!" Ultimately we are all called to "give back" and offer our whole selves to God's mission in the world. Take, bless, break, and give. This is our liturgy; it's also our life. We take our gifts, they are blessed by God in beloved community, we are broken (and healed) by the journey, and then we give and commit ourselves to this unending cycle and life of faith. So around our final campfire we talked about what we might "offer" or "give" when we return home. How we will be a spark for beloved community anywhere with anyone in the midst of any challenge?
After this final campfire on Friday night the middle schoolers drove back to Camp Miller and the high schoolers stayed out for a second night at Jay Cooke. The high schoolers did their appreciation circle there, with each kid staying one affirming thing about every other kid. It was really inspiring to see how integrated the group had become over the course of the week, as each person really had something thoughtful to say. The middle schoolers did their appreciation circles on Saturday morning back at Camp Miller.
On Saturday morning the high schoolers returned to camp miller, following a surprise pitstop at Perkins for breakfast after tearing down the Jay Cooke campsites. Everyone put on their camp t-shirts for a photo and then parents arrived for lunch and our closing service. We chose to do a healing and anointing service this year, as we had eucharist the night before. Our LT led a group reflection on each of our four themes and invited our campers to spontaneously throw in their own ideas. It was really beautiful to hear campers say things like "I learned I can actually do things I didn't think I could do especially when I'm surrounded by friends," and "I didn't know anyone when I came but now I feel like this is my family."
I am so incredibly proud of all of our amazing campers and staff from around ECMN. I can't end this email without a big shout out to these incredible adults who chose to join us and were such a huge part of our beloved community at camp. We will be looking for more adults around ECMN who love camp to join us for EYQC 2019.
Chaplains: The Rev. Dana Fath Strande (Nativity, Burnsville), The Rev. Matt Cobb (St. John's, Onigum & St. Peter's, Cass Lake)
Cabin Counselors: Shane Sanders Marcus (Youth Minister, St. John's, Mpls), The Rev. Craig Lemming (Curate, St. John's, Mpls), Steve Mullaney (Missioner for Young Adults), Katheryn Schneider (St. Mary's), Casey Bartelings (St. Mark's), and Mike Barnett.
Nurse: The Rev. Deacon Lynne Sprick (St. Mark's, Lake City)
Peer Ministry: Stacey Olson (Youth Minister, St. Mark's, Mpls)
Music: Andy McCormack (St. Luke's, Detroit Lakes)
Young Adult Leadership Team: Chenyeng Vang (Holy Apostles, St. Paul), Tomas Carlson (St. Mark's, Mpls), Avianna and Taliya McFarquhar (St. James, Marshal).