Hello Swamp Blog readers! We are a good three and a half months away until summer camp starts, and I don't know about you guys, but I'm already counting down the days! Click here to register for your camp sessions, and remember, if you register and pay a deposit before midnight April 1, you get a FREE Camp Swamp t-shirt! Also something to keep on your radar are the upcoming Mother-Son and Daddy-Daughter Retreats in March and April, respectively. To register for those retreats, click here
One of the most important and appreciated values of Camp Swamp is diversity; celebrating the differences in our cultures, skin colors, talents, abilities and interests adds so much to the culture of camp. So this week, in honor of Black History Month, we will be discussing last summer's theme for camp, RACE. While the theme did revolve around celebrating an Olympic summer, one of the incorporated elements of camp was the discussion of racism and prejudice. In the social and political climate of our country nowadays, these tend to be really sensitive and taboo topics that we often avoid. But as you'll hear from some campers and counselors, discussing these topics has made positive impacts on the culture of camp. I think last summer's head boy counselor, Jesse McKay, puts it best:
"Especially in the political chaos of America right now, as disciples we need to be talking about what's going on in a righteous way, not ignoring it or even worse, saving those conversations for "not church" spaces. Race issues can be so divisive in the world, the kingdom of God needs to be a place where we can have righteous discussions that aren't divisive but are filled with speech seasoned with compassion, a soft heart and love. God used the topic last summer to help us listen to each other, to be aware of people's hardships and to strive to show compassion to everyone."
And that's exactly what campers and counselors had the opportunity to do last summer at Camp Swamp. Open and honest conversations about racism and prejudice were incorporated throughout the weekly Bible lessons. Every Tuesday night devotional was lead by Mr. Jeff where we discussed the power of ignorance, how we can overcome it, and the steps we can take to understand those who have experienced racism in America. And it definitely made an impact.
Here's different campers had to say about the conversation:
"Conversations about race are something I look forward to. I think it's good to let people into my world as a person of color and I also think it's good to hear what it's like on the other side of the spectrum from a person who is not of color. The lesson, I believe, definitely created more of a mutual understanding for everyone to see more of what it really is like to be a different race than white."
"The lesson Mr. Jeff taught was amazing ... it was inspiring for black kids because we learned that there are white people that care about what's going within the African American community, and the fear and oppression we were/are going through...It made the culture a little different especially from the black kids perspective because camp is such a safe place."- Tyler, 16
"I think the racism lessons really impacted the culture of Camp Swamp because people began to celebrate and really embrace the different ethnicities."
- Hannah, 15
To see today's youth have the maturity, comfortability and confidence to discuss racism and learning to deal with ignorance was truly an incredible experience. Counselor Rachel Rowell says that these conversations "not only built bridges of understanding, but it also helped the campers of color to truly be themselves." That's so beautiful, to able to connect with one another the way God intended for us to be. I'm so grateful that camp is a place we we can take strides to fighting racism together. I think my friend Josh, 17, sums it up pretty well in what he learned last summer:
"The fact that there is no favoritism in perfect love. No matter the race or the language we speak, God treats us all the same. Also visualizing in heaven what it's going to be like with all races together as one!"
That being said, I challenge you guys this week to find ways to build your own bridges to others. Connect with someone different from yourself and talk about these things. Engage, listen and love without fear. There is so much we can learn from one another's experiences. It is with one another that we will begin to overcome ignorance, prejudice and racism, and together we can discover the healing that come with these conversations.
Thanks for reading! Until next week,
Dec. 29-Jan. 1
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