The last Friday night of each session, we would have the final chapel service for the session. Though SCC was an Episcopalian camp, chapel and God were never “forced down your throat” as some might expect. They were instead used as a reminder that we have to be thankful for God and what He has provided for us. The chapel was best used as an outlet for those thoughts and prayers regardless of what you called yourself.
I met people of all denominations through camp, some even not religious at all, but everyone still participated in chapel just the same as if they were. There were passages read from the Bible, songs sang, prayers and an overwhelming sense of togetherness, especially during those special Friday night chapel services. Ever since growing up, I was always taught that we are all children of God, and I always thought and felt the same way when I would look through the faces of everyone in that tiny chapel.
So many tears were shed during those services, tears of joy and sorrow, grief and comfort. For so many, this was the last time they would see some of their new found friends or oldest friends at camp until the next year, and for the oldest campers, possibly forever. What better place to say goodbye to someone other than through chapel, overlooking Lake Erie with the sun setting in the background?
A sunset to me has always been special, and I would think most of that comes from camp. Sunsets would signify the end of the day, preparing for chapel or campfire, and a closure of what has been done. There was always a new beginning awaiting us the next morning, but the sunset always gave me a better feeling of another full day lived.
Those Friday night services served as a last little farewell for the campers and staff, and was made ever more special by having a candlelit procession from the chapel back to the cabins at the end. The girls would sing “Prepare ye the way of the lord,” while the boys would sing under them “Long live God.” That song gave a reminder to everyone walking with a candle back to cabinside that it was important to share our joy, our experiences and our love we had at camp with everyone that was unable to be with us.
To take our light outside of camp, and let it shine for all of the world to see. To help those in need in the spirit of Christ, as he would have wanted us to do.
My mother always said that when I came back from camp, I always had “found my smile” again. Camp was about having fun with so many great people and experiences, but it didn’t end that Friday night at chapel, nor the next morning after paper pick-up. Camp was meant to be shared like that light, for all to see and experience. In the cool winds of the fall, or the darkest nights of winter, I could always look back on that week or two at camp, reignite my light, and share it with the world, just as God would have wanted.
Discussion: What experiences do you pull from in order to share life and happiness with those around you?