Tuesday, July 21, 2009

SYW 09 Recap

I've got three more videos that I want to post but it's not working right now. I'll put a note on facebook when it's ready.

I might have overestimated the amount of free time I had to post to the blog last week because, obviously it didn't happen. In short, I had no free time at all. But now I do. Let me kind of walk you through the week. It's all videos so I hope your computer can download them. I didn't take as many still shots this year. Technology is getting so much better each year that I forget the old.

I was exposed to so much state of the art technology that I decided around Wednesday that I wanted an iPhone. Not only did half the camp have them, Caressa Holloman used hers for just about every conceivable task, including watching the weather radar when a thunderstorm popped up in the middle of the shaving cream fight. The radar showed the storm to be moving to the side of us, not toward us, so we were able to let the kids stay outside in spite of a dramatic show of lightning in the distance. Caressa told me I could even put spreadsheets on an iPhone and I was hooked. But on Friday Cam's iPhone crashed.

Cam Dean was the camp nurse except she can't call herself that since she's not licensed in the state of Oklahoma so she's just the "first-aider." Without a phone nobody could get in touch with her if anybody broke a leg like they've done in the past. Over the years we've had just about every medical emergency at this event except the one thing Cam specializes in: labor and delivery. (Thank God) But when Cam finally found an Apple store to talk to them about her phone they tried to give her an "appointment" for the following week. She ended up posting a note on our door to call Jane if they needed her and buying an iPhone moved back down on my list of things I wanted to do anytime soon.

So, here's our week: If this doesn't want to make you be a Presbyterian you're not paying attention.

We had energizers every day before keynote

video

And again Tuesday night at the mixer.

video

I'm not sure if it registered with anyone that this was the same room where we set up the labyrinths. We borrowed three canvas labyrinths from different places. Louis Gold's entire small group helped us unfold and lay them out. It was a lot easier this way than in years past when a few staff members had to do this by ourselves.

video

Here is a video I took last year. Walking the labyrinth is one of the most intense experiences of the whole week and I don't like to intrude with a camera. I took this shot only during the first few moments of a walk and before we dimed the lights.

video

The youth planning team chose "Transformed Always Transforming" theme for this week back in last September. But apparently they knew to expect the latest Transformers movie to come out this week. Perfect timing. Also a great theme for people (everyone) who live within the process of becoming who God made them to be. Then they also picked "Dare You to Move" as a theme song for the week:

(video of planning team singing here)

And MOVE they did. There were games galore. We had an afternoon of games outside that was in addition to all the other games being played indoors in small groups.

video

Our keynote speaker was the pastor of a church in Conway, Arkansas, Drew Travis. Drew was also a folk singer with an extraordinary voice and I'm afraid my camera was out of focus but I wanted you to hear a bit of a song he wrote. He sang it only once which was a shame because it would have made a perfect benediction:

(video of Drew singing goes here)

These videos only give you a taste of how much fun and how meaningful the week was. But the best moment of the whole week was to come Thursday evening after the Variety Show and I was so blown away that it never occurred to me to take pictures.

We had outdoor vespers that night. We sang a couple of quiet songs and were feeling very mellow and Jesus-y.

(video of Kyrie)

After we sang there was a quiet pause when all were lost in their thoughts. We sat there surrounded on all sides by tall buildings made of stone. The stone made for some grand acoustics.

Then we heard bagpipes playing "Amazing Grace." There's not a sound in the world that can beat that sound. But it soon dawned on us that even with the great acoustics and a good sound system this was just too magnificent for a recording. We looked at the planning team in the center. They were just as puzzled as the rest of us. Then out from behind one of the buildings stepped a lone bagpiper. All we could make out was a dim silhouette. You couldn't make out details like the face but I could swear he was wearing a kilt. It was one of the most magical moments I've ever witnessed. My chillbumps had chillbumps.

As soon as the last notes of the song reverberated off the buildings surrounding us, he stepped back into the shadows. There was total silence for a long time after that. I forget how we ended vespers that night; it was such an awesome moment there was nothing afterwards that could register on the memory bank. We quietly walked to the dorms. Some folks wondered who it was. Some offered names of who they thought it was. Personally, I didn't want to know anything. Facts would only take away from the sheer magic of the moment.

I had a transforming moment of my own. Part of my responsibilities last week was running the labyrinth. I had to locate and reserve three labyrinths big enough to get 400 people through them in three day's time. Then I had to schedule it all. But part of the job was also sending each kid off on this journey. This was more than just a walk around the room. It was a journey into their relationship with God. Usually we manage it so that their small group leader comes off the canvas first so they will be there to receive each kid as they come off. This is one of the most intense times of the week and the kids are especially vulnerable when they walk off the canvas. We use about six boxes of Kleenex for these times.

When we were planning the labyrinths this year someone had suggested I anoint them with oil as they entered their prayer time. This was a new concept to me so I asked my pastor about it. Anne explained that this was an ancient practice to bless someone. Psalm 23 comes to mind. Some people use baby oil but Anne likes to use olive oil because she says that's probably what Jesus used. I looked it all up in the Old Testament and sure enough, they spent a lot of time anointing people. I still worried that I was going to freak the kids out, who I expected to be sensitive about yet more oil on their foreheads. But I asked around and was assured they would all be OK with this and I could offer the option to refuse the oil if need be.

So, armed with a tiny plastic vial of olive oil I preceded to anoint over half the kids there. Cam shared this job with me when she wasn't making a run to the ER with a broken thumb or scratched cornea. We finished Friday morning then folded and packed away the canvases and made room for the dance that night. But I couldn't look at the kids in the same way after that. They weren't just random teenagers. I had marked the sign of the cross on them with my own thumb. This gave me more than a passing relationship with them, even when I didn't remember who each one was or could connect names to faces. I realized that I had been transformed myself by the experience.

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