It was a beautiful moon-lit summer evening. The dance had just ended and now the community was settling in around the campfire. The ‘veterans’ all knew to bring a sweatshirt or jacket because they were aware that they would be sitting in the cool evening air for a while.
A couple of mellow songs were sung and then, as was the tradition, the camp director got up to explain what was to happen next. Yet on this night one of his predecessors was in the crowd, so he graciously invited me to stand with him and to explain the origins of the “stick ceremony”.
“30 years ago another staff member and I were talking about how we might bring closure to camp in a way that honored every camper’s experience. Based loosely on something he had done at scout camp, the ‘stick ceremony’ was born. It is an opportunity for everyone who has been a part of camp for the week to throw a stick in the fire and say, ‘This stick represents….’
Through the years I have sat through hundreds of stick ceremonies. The countless and powerful words that have been shared by 4th graders to staff members have consistently, deeply moved me. The transformational experiences are undeniably the movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of the community.
None may be as powerful as the moments Staci and I shared with our two sons this last Saturday night. To hear them articulate what their experience, their family, their friends, their faith meant to them in their own ways was not only incredibly inspiring, but also utterly profound…and an indescribable blessing.