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Daily Mass at Family Camp has been a high point for me since my first week as a Teen Staff in the mid 1980’s and it has remained so through the years as I have come to camp with my own family, as a volunteer and now as a leader. Here is what I love about Mass at Family Camp:

  • I love that parents can truly participate in Mass because the teen staff members are willing to help out with rambunctious tots.

  • I love that God can surely hear our responses during Mass! AMEN!

  • I love the numerous ways that young campers can participate in the Mass: being invited to stand near the altar for a better view during the Eucharistic Prayer, being shown the hand motions that accompany a number of songs, serving as a lector or reading the Prayers of the Faithful during Mass.

  • I love that families (with the help of their Teen Staff ) plan each Mass – providing lectors, writing and reading the Prayers of the Faithful, choosing and sometimes leading the music, etc.

  • I love that the homily really speaks to us – the families, teen staff and adult leaders – and ties into the theme for the day and the week.

  • I love that it’s okay if a 5-year old is moved to dance during Mass.

  • I love that the music is led by whoever shows up at Camp with instruments and the willingness to lead AND that inexperienced musicians (like me last year!) are welcomed and mentored by the more seasoned musicians.

  • I love seeing evidence of community developing within and between the families and teen staff during the prolonged Sign of Peace.

  • I love receiving the Eucharist amongst people with whom I’ve shared deeply.

  • I love that the Mass at Family Camp feels like a celebration of our faith.

  • I love the simplicity of the chapel, the view through the windows, the breeze through the screens, the sound of rain on the roof and the sounds of spontaneous singing as I approach before Mass or as I leave after Mass.

  • I love that we have an outdoor chapel that we can use… if everyone has bug spray!

  • I love that the young people love going to Mass at Family Camp.

True confession: In my younger years, once I returned home I tended to compare Mass at home to Mass at Camp and find a number of faults with Mass at home. That was never a helpful thought process! I now try to remember the joy, spirit of community and the love of the Lord that I experienced during Mass at Camp and bring that with me, in my heart, when I go to Mass at home. Oh… I also try to remember we do not shout “AMEN!” In my home parish.

Forty-five years ago, I drove with my family into Koinonia. Together with Paula, Joy, and Marian my eyes were open to the Face of God. The invitation having been made by loving family campers and a deep desire to know God as a family changed our lives forever. The song “Face of God” by Karen Drucker has the line that summarizes the experiences of the years. When you are in a place that is filled with compassion and the beatitudes are alive,…

“Blessed are the peace makers for they will be called the children of God.”

….You come alive and you see things through God’s eyes. People begin to be the Face of God.

You are the face of God.

II hold you in my heart.

You are a part of me.

You are the face of God.

-Karen Drucker

These lyrics help me to live Family Camp. They take off the layers of hurt and distraction.

You are the face of God …

as I look out the chapel window down into the valley.

You are the face of God….

as I investigate another’s eyes in chapel or at meals in the lodge.

You are the face of God. You are a part of me…

as you appear in the plants of Grandpa’s Garden and the field lilies next to the camp


You are the heart and the face of my family and the healing that takes place.

Songs give me inspiration. There is another song that connects family camp and my day-to-day life. It is “All my life is a Circle” by Harry Chapin. We would use the song at many closings on

Saturday in the old days of camp. We danced together as we circled out of the chapel singing all the while staying connected by joining hands. It still gives me chills remembering the sense of the Spirit of God there in that moment. This is a place of welcome. It was and is a place of presence where all are welcomed into the circle. It is place where we respond to each other in trust and honesty. It is a place where we turn to wonder. What we are feeling and what we

believe both matters. It is a place of deep confidentiality as we share or do not share. The gifts that are given to you as seeds. They are planted here, and they are taken unfinished and ready to grow.

Goodness gets tucked away in the heart. I doubt that any of us are normally aware of having a profound effect take place. Unless the events are startling or unusual, they generally fade into life’s experience without much of a second thought. Yet the slightest of interactions may have a great influence on another. Each of us can open ourselves to the Face of God all around us. Being at camp I have met people who were there at the right time for me and my family. God moves through other human beings who just show up, sit down, and listen to my story. They are the face of God. Recall when someone has been the voice and face of God for you. Then taking those experiences as your inspiration, find some simple ways to be an instrument of good today. Notice how many opportunities arise for you to bring the message of God’s compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, and solace to others. Walk with a compassionate heart of Koinonia - community.

“My Jesus, thank you for having the same presence today no matter where I am physically, mentally, or spiritually.”

This was a daily prayer of mine during this past semester of college. I was blessed with the opportunity to study abroad in the small town of Gaming, Austria. During this time, I was able to travel to new countries, learn about new cultures, meet new people, make life-long memories that I’ll tell my kids about one day–all in the spirit of embracing everything that comes with living in a foreign country for four months.

But studying abroad certainly isn’t perfect, and I won’t pretend there weren’t times I googled what a weekend flight home would cost, “just out of curiosity.” There were many tears shed, lots of time and money lost, holidays missed, and innumerable calls home. But through it all, the Lord remained present to me.

He was with me when I trudged into my room after a long travel weekend. He was with me when I stayed up too late to cram for midterms.

He was with me when I thought I was stuck in Prague forever.

He was with me when I wanted more than anything to hug my parents.

He was with me when I cried out a broken prayer.

No matter where I was, the Lord was right there with me,

meeting me where I was at. He continues His faithfulness to me daily, always showing Himself in my joy and in my sadness. He is the same God that placed me in the Camp Chapel and brought my wandering heart back to Him in high school. In a semester full of change and anxiety, God was my constant—my guiding Light.

And now, that Light has come down to us as a tiny baby born in a stable. He became one of us to show us His love and remind us of how present He is. In our celebration of Jesus’ birth, I am reminded of how yet again, He is reaching out to us—only this time as an infant from His cradle. Every day, He is reaching out, offering His hand out in nothing but merciful love for you, His beloved one. Every time you approach the Eucharist, you approach this same God of the ages. All that the Lord asks of us is to accept this offer and allow ourselves to be loved by Him.

My dear Camp Friends, I invite you during this Christmas season to allow the Lord to love you as He desires to and rejoice in Him as Emmanuel, for He is forever with us!

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