Camp and Retreat E-News: From Chaos to Community

July 17, 2019


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Reflections on values with Camp & Retreat Ministries

From Chaos to Community  

 Value 5: Community

By Rev. Todd Bartlett, Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries

The past few weeks we have been sharing with you the value of acceptance and now we turn our attention to community. It seems to me to be a natural progression from the experience of acceptance to understanding that one is part of a community.

Community is formed by shared experiences; and often the experiences that have the most profound impact upon our sense of community are challenges. In his book, A Different Drum: Community Making and Peace, M. Scott Peck writes that before we get to community, we move from Pseudo-Community (that place where we are nice and polite to one another) into chaos and then on to community. The experience of chaos does not guarantee that the group of people sharing that experience will become a community. They must be intentional about learning from the chaos and come to a new understanding about who each person is and how the group becomes a community.

In our camp and retreat programs there is some initial chaos when a camp session begins (different people coming from different places, arriving at different times) and pseudo-community (everyone being on their best behavior). It is the responsibility of our staff to create a space where this chaos can be held and experienced.  If the group cooperates, it can be transformed from a group of strangers experiencing some level of chaos into a caring community.

Our mission of creating quality environments of Christian hospitality and learning gets tested each week as we provide the space and leadership to assist a new group of campers and guests in becoming a community of people who are able to live and work together, if only for one week. We know from many of our campers that this experience leaves a mark on them that shapes the rest of their year between weeks of camp as well as forging life-long friendships that sustain a sense of community and belonging.  I saw this most recently when I attended Discovery week at Camp Latgawa and the group of senior high campers demonstrated deep caring and support for one another.

Because community is essential well-being, we understand that the cost of getting there is worth it.  We may not like the experience in the midst of the chaos but the stories that we get to tell later of meeting the challenge says something that we like about ourselves and the community of which we are a part: together with one another we are strong and better off. 

See you around the campfire soon,

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A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon