We took the Glenwood Campers to Stone Mountain, NC for a one-night camping trip last weekend, and we had a really great time. My brother-in-law had given me and Diane a 10-person tent, which easily housed all of the boys, and the girls had several tents for their campsite. After setting up camp, we hiked down to the waterfall (think really big rock with water sliding down it rather than cascading over it), and for an hour it was a joy to watch the campers get to just be kids for a while. They smiled and laughed. They found crayfish and snails in the water. They splashed in the water, climbed from rock to rock, explored downstream. They had their pictures made standing in the water, swimming in the water, posing on the rocks. The cares of their families seemed to melt away, and even the hardest kids began to soften. I think that for many of them, carefree moments are rare, chances to just do the things that kids do, things that I had the chance to do hundreds of times growing up. Who knows how the Lord was able to heal broken places in their hearts by revealing His love for them in the beauty of that place?
My favorite time was taking a trail downstream with two of the guys who wanted to just explore, and to see them delight in the creek, the rocks, the water and the dense trees. I love the mountains and walking beside streams, and to share that with them and see them captured by that beauty was such a great connection. It makes me want to create more spaces for them to shrug off the burdens of growing up fast and just be kids.
One of my pastors says that a huge gap between our Glenwood kids and other kids is the gap of experiences – they’ve not been to college campuses for a football game or to a musical at the theatre. They’ve not camped in the mountains or spent weeks at the beach. Teaching them academics is important, but it’s just as important to broaden their experiences in the world.