Camp of the Woods – It’s all about focus
Like last year I went with a team of 28 from our church to Camp of the Woods Ontario Canada for a week of work/retreat, but in truth all camps are about just one thing. The purported goal of the trip is to help prepare the camp for the first group of teens starting the week after we left. To be honest, I love camp, and particularly this one. Pick any kind of camp you want and you will find they exist to refocus your efforts on something specific without all the distractions. Camp of the Woods is 40 miles from anything, 1000 miles from home with no phones, computers or TV. What it does have is a huge lake, great food, hiking trails, canoes and plenty of comfortable space for just plain focus. Oh yeah, and the occasional bear or moose.
What is the focus of Camp of the Woods? The answer is pure and simple, to model Christ. The theme for camp this year is “Your Life Story”. Inspired by hero’s, what about your life speaks of overcoming the odds to accomplish a worthy goal? If your life story is about buying a nice house, sweet ride and to retire with a few bucks in your pocket you can be sure no one will take the time to write about it. It takes a high and lofty goal and dedicated effort overcoming the odds to make a positive life worth reading about. Nothing wrong with a nice quiet life, but generally speaking it takes a number of hero’s for us to have a peaceful life.
Most days here are generally similar, the day starts early with a 6:30 AM run down the dirt road with Nick and Tracey that features some nice cool (50 degree or so) temps and lots of scenery. The camp dog “Butterscotch” usually runs with us as well. My wife Sherrie goes with a walking group doing much the same thing. Breakfast is at 8 AM then time to clean up the cabins where we stay. About 9:30 we have a short morning chapel service and 30 minutes of quite time where you can set in the sun, pray, read, you pick. How often do you take 30 minutes of solid quite time in a peaceful setting? If I didn't spend a week at Camp of the Woods this answer is probably never.
Bell rings and we worked from 10 to noon, then break for lunch. After that we work again from 1 PM to 3 PM and then free time. Rarely is any of this without group activity. If you want to get to know someone, spend a week at camp with them. You pretty much leave pretense at home.
On several occasions we had sunny afternoons where the lake was the center of activity. The mostly teen group spends the time swimming and jumping off the high dive. I got to swim in as well, but kept the wetsuit on and just headed out across the lake with some volunteer canoe paddlers. You can swim here to your heart’s content.
Evenings we have dinner at 6, a chapel service and then generally hangout together either with a fire by the dock watching the sunset or inside playing cards or the like. Lights out at 11 PM, and we repeat this pretty much the same each day.
The end result is really focused on Christ and spending quality time with a positive group of people. The camp is run by Johnnie and Becky Bates and their family. About a nice a group as you will find. The camp counselors are also there with us hard at work, a volunteer group that featured many of the same young adults as last year, also equally impressive. The de facto leader of our group is Ginny Wilson. Ginny and her husband Jack worked at this camp for 19 years in the kitchen. Now in her 80’s she is still goes with us and makes homemade rolls and all kinds of good food for us.
I've been back for a week, and I would be ready to return tomorrow. Like that camp focus thing …