I’m back this week from a great time serving as a chaplain at Camp Gravatt! It was so much fun to see some of our high schoolers serving as counsellors, LIT’s, or staff running around hiding behind trees to take pictures (Smith Templeton). A couple of great stories from the week. My session was Elementary III, which involves a pretty broad range in behavior—differing levels of homesickness, different levels of activity. One common ground was the talent show. Almost universally, the girls from the cabins sang a Taylor Swift song with all the seriousness in the world, and almost universally the boys got up and tried to see who could chug a cup of water the fastest (also with all the seriousness in the world). I wrote the number ten on a piece of cardboard and gave everyone a perfect score for their performance. The devotional period was called “Footprints” (following in the footprints of Jesus), led by a staffer named Jeb Bartlett. One of the days, we talked about silence together, and found ourselves turning over differences between the silence of a “shhh!!” and the silence that grips you when you’re fascinated by something. That second type of silence, we said, is the one that begins our life of prayer—like a bubble you don’t want to pop. So, we tried it out, and for ten minutes, a group of kids aged seven to eleven were perfectly still outside, and we knew the stillness of prayer. We were, as a group, held together by something that didn’t need speech. A very different sort of experience closed out my time. At the very end of the last free-swim, Alexander Koutrakos blobbed me at least twenty feet into the air with the whole camp watching. Blobbing is a water activity, where a giant tarp-like material is pumped with enough air that it sits on the water like a pillow—one person jumps on, crawls to the end, and another person jumps off a tower onto the blob to send them flying. Sources say I went higher than the tower itself. It was enough time in the air that I managed to turn over and land in a swan dive. Gave myself a ten for that one too.
In all, it was a wonderful week—especially great, too, to look through all the staff photos back through the year. St. John’s and Gravatt are closely connected and share so much in terms of spirit and heart. It was wonderful to see the next generation of Gravatt staff develop, as well as the next generations of St. John’s come into their own, knowing that they’re being formed in a wonderful way. I was really thankful to have been there.
Learn more about other important updates in the latest church newsletter: The Epistle – July 27, 2023