UCCI held its annual Board of Director’s retreat at Moon Beach last weekend and some of the discussion focused on why we do what we do in our ministry. As part of that discussion it was noted that as humans we have a fundamental connection to the rest of creation, and our sites give us an opportunity to explore, celebrate, and strengthen that connection. A day after the retreat I was in a bookstore and picked up a book entitled, ‘Last Child in the Woods’, written by Richard Louv. The premise of the book is that children today are in danger of losing their connection with nature. Compared to previous generations, children spend very little time actually playing in nature, simply being kids, building tree houses, damming up rivulets of water, catching fireflies and frogs, and staring at stars. Having only begun to read the book, I cannot speak to the author’s response to this current state of affairs, but I am finding the writing to be compelling. Compelling in that it seems to highlight yet another important reason for us to be doing what we do.
When our young campers go crawfish fishing on our water front they take a stick with a string tied to it with a bent paperclip tied to the end and a piece of breakfast sausage hooked on the paperclip. At one level it simply looks like a bunch of little kids messing around in the water, but maybe there is a whole lot more going on. These kids are also learning that there is another whole eco-system that shares the water front with them, they are learning what these creatures might like to eat, how they move, and how they interact with everything around them.
When our older campers spend the night sleeping out under the stars on our activity field, there is a whole lot more going on than one big rambunctious outdoor slumber party. They are learning how bright the stars can be if all the lights are turned out. They are learning what creatures make mysteriously wonderful noises at night, they are learning how the dew forms on the grass, (and on their sleeping bags) as the cold and warm air come together. They are learning that they are part of something much larger than themselves.
We are definitely a key part of God’s creation and I believe it is more and more important that we figure out our role in that greater scheme. I am eternally grateful that we have two awesome sites of outdoor ministry where our folks come play in the water and run their feet through the cool moist grass.
~ Rev. Nathan Athorp