Getting ready for our young people to go to camp has prompted fond memories of my experiences as a young camper. I was blessed to attend camp at Camp Chanco, on the James River. It is "church camp", under the direction & guidance of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia. I attended every summer from the time I was 8 until I was a counselor, at 17. Our church, Waters Edge Gathering, has been raising funds to sponsor students that need financial support so they can go to camp. I love that our student ministry reaches out to ALL young people. They offer what, perhaps, their family can't or won't. One of the most important tasks, to me, as an adult, is to be one of the grown ups that I was fortunate to have influencing me as I grew in my faith. I am proud to know that THE WELL, our youth program sets the standard to "be the person you wish you had as a child." Like Camp Chanco, the leaders of THE WELL ensure that these students have access to someone that wants to be that person. I would have to say that one of the most memorable things that being a camper offered were new ways to experience GOD. Not everyone is fond of CHURCH CAMP. I loved it. Camp Chanco, now Chanco on the James, is where I learned that God is everywhere! One of the most special memories I have is an activity that we participated in during our two weeks at camp. We randomly drew the name of a staff member or camper that would be our CHANCO CHUM. Much like a "secret santa" or "secret pal" we did thoughtful little things and made homemade treasures to bestow on our CHANCO CHUM. We revealed who that person was during a evening ceremony around a blazing bon fire, singing songs of praise. Each name was revealed by taking the hand of our chum, forming a huge circle. I have kept one of those treasures, for 38 years now, hanging in my home, since my last summer at camp, at 17. The camp director, Rev. David Davenport, made the little burlap hanging in the picture. He cut the letters from felt, sewed the ends to accommodate the bell that hangs from the bottom and the yarn it hangs from. The most priceless part of this gift that he shared when his identity was revealed, were the words that are written on the back, "To Caroline, my Chanco Chum, Knowing that you take your faith seriously, as well as people around you-I thought you would like this. May the Lord's peace be always with you, Caroline. May you continue to be a joy & friend to all those who know you. Love, Dave Davenport." I did not know at the time, but feel certain, in retrospect, that he knew of my experience as an unwed mother the year before. He was one of the adults that sewed a seed of God's love into my life when I was still finding my way. Dave's arts & crafts project serves as a reminder of the journey I am on. God has, and continues to place people and experiences in my life that reveal His love & plan for me. My prayer is that THE WELL students will see glimpses of God in the simple, priceless experience of attending CHURCH CAMP!

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