There will be no babysitting available this Sunday, September 2nd. Thanks for your understanding!
On the front of our weekly bulletin, you will find the words “St. Stephen’s–a diverse Episcopal parish, a life-giving sanctuary, a place where love begets love.” That love was truly evident this past week during our 6 th annual Drumming Camp. From the moment the campers stepped off the bus on Monday afternoon to our final goodbyes on Friday evening, there was laughter, play, music, art, good food, and yes, lots of love. Children who had attended camp in previous years greeted us with hugs and high fives, but it didn’t take long for the smiles to spread to those who were with us for the first time.
They learned complex rhythm patterns and energetic dance steps under Yah’Ya Kamate’s expert teaching, ate delicious meals prepared by Sara Ruth Dorn and her faithful army of servers, created works of art and beautifully decorated t-shirts under Gesine Ehlers’ leadership. Eugene Foley and Barbara Riedel introduced them to the story of Nelson Mandela, whose life the children celebrated during the final performance on Friday. Theresa Scharff helped them make “Kindness Rocks,” which you can now find scattered throughout our garden next to the rectory.
Counselors Phoebe Holt-Reiss, Rammie Rugbeer, Drew Newman, and former camper JaTaria Monroe led outdoor games and play and guided the children from one activity to the next. Susan Dinan ordered supplies ahead of time so the children would have water bottles and t-shirts. Suzanne Holt brought her portable fire pit on Thursday evening so that they could have the experience of making and eating s’mores. Gary Jones, who some of you may know as the husband of our parish administrator Claire, led the opening and closing activities each day with unmatched enthusiasm.
Marianne Bredlau, Sheelagh Clarke’s daughter, spearheaded an effort with the members of Wyoming Presbyterian Church to provide the campers with backpacks that were stuffed full of school supplies. Peter Wick came each evening after we left to clean the bathrooms and take out the trash. And on and on and on it goes. I haven’t even named all the volunteers who played some part in the week, but we appreciate each one’s contribution, each act of kindness born from that life-giving love.
I saved one name for last because you need to know that, in the absence of a rector, this year’s camp would not have happened without her dedication, effort and considerable time commitment. I can only begin to list all the administrative things that she did over the past several weeks and months to ensure that this camp would take place–things like securing that $10,000 donation to fund the camp, hiring staff members, planning the transportation, working with Delouise Monroe to recruit campers, working out the budget and making sure paid staff members received checks, writing countless e-mails, and so on. On top of that, she spent a week of her vacation time to oversee the operation of the camp. We owe a hearty thank you to Fran Taber!
On Friday, many of the campers’ families joined us for the performance and the dinner that followed. Among those was our new van driver’s family. One of Carl’s teenage sons came up to me and introduced himself, saying he remembered me. I asked where he knew me from, and he replied, “I used to come to this camp.” Together, Jeremiah and I figured out that he had attended our very first camp six years ago when he was 8 years old. Then he told me that he would love to come next year and be one of our counselors! That “full-circle moment” touched me deeply, and reminded me of something Suzanne Holt told this year’s counselors: “You never know when something you say or do could change a child’s life.”
To all of the people of St. Stephen’s, thank you for being a part of this life-giving sanctuary, where love truly begets love.