Living Out the Sacraments in the Middle of an Ohio Cornfield

Summer camp is a consistent story shared by many adult Christians, as is Confirmation Class amongst those of us who celebrate sacraments. I have been blessed and transformed as an adult participating in “confirmation camps” and am grateful for the story shared by our guest blogger today, Maggie Foster. Maggie is the Assistant Director of Youth Ministries and Summer Camp for the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

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Diocese of Southern Ohio Sponsors Confirmation Camp

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Bishop Thompson lightly hit me on the cheek. This is what I remember from my entire Confirmation experience. That’s it.  But ask me anything about the first time I went to summer camp in the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and I can recall all of it.  I can tell you that we had spaghetti on the first night of camp, and that my counselor’s name was Natalie.  For most of us, Confirmation Class is not a very memorable experience, but simply a natural stepping-stone in the progression of our lives based on the traditions and expectations of our families and churches.

This summer, at Procter Summer Camp, we decided to try something new.  We combined a traditional Confirmation Class with what is already one of the most formative experiences in many kids’ lives: a week at summer camp.  With Bishop Tom Breidenthal at the helm, a group of 16 high schoolers, 16 staff and 2 chaplains explored the possibilities that open up when a group of Confirmands not only learns together, but also lives into the kind of community to which God calls us.  Not only were we privileged to have Bishop Breidenthal teach our class in the morning and celebrate Eucharist with us every day, but we also conquered our fears together on the blob, we worked together as a team in sports, we nurtured our spiritual gifts of creativity in Arts and Crafts, and we prayed together at the end of each day at the campfire.

Of course, we did our fair share of learning: we had instruction from the Bishop on topics such as the Doctrine of the Trinity, Moral Reasoning, and the shape of the Eucharist.  We had workshops on mandala making, yoga, and icon writing as forms of centering prayer.  We even played some educational games such as Episcopal Jeopardy and Jesus Madness.  There was plenty of time for discussion, notably a panel discussion with our chaplains and a couple of staff members about their beliefs and doubts.

“I’ve been thinking about getting Recieved for a few years and I cannot be more grateful that I was able to do it at Confirmation Camp. There is nothing that could have made my Reception more special than sharing it with my camp family.” – Ginna Rich, Camp Counselor

In the end, eight youth and two counselors were Confirmed and one counselor was Received into the Episcopal Church in a beautiful and memorable service in our camp’s chapel.  The service was truly sacramental; an outward sign of the graceful and transformative experience that took place within all of us that week in the middle of a cornfield in southern Ohio.

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