From middle school through my senior year of high school, one of the highlights of my year was getting away from my parents for five days every Summer. Both Wisconsin and Minnesota have strong camp programs, Spencer Lake and Lake Geneva respectively. These were where I could eat junk food, flirt with girls, screw around with my pals, get “blobbed,” and have rather intense ecstatic experiences in the nightly worship services. It’s where I first felt a call to ministry, and it helped give needed “high spots” in my spiritual life.
In short, I treasure(d) my time at camp. The annual Youth Conference was alright, but never like camp.
Additionally, I realize now that it helped to make me feel an affinity for my “diocese.” Over the years I made reasonably good friends from all over the state. We’d meet up at camp and conference, and exchange correspondence; sometimes we’d even go to each other’s houses. It was from one of these friends that I first heard DC Talk (the Nu Thang record); it was here that I first got wind of the punk and hardrock off Tooth & Nail records — back before they sold out, yo. I came to perceive that I was part of this thing called the Assemblies of God. I had friends here, I felt connected.
Now I realize that many Episcopal parishes do camps in the summer. But in my experience, these have mostly been done on a parish by parish basis and only sometimes together, and even then rarely more than a small handful of them. But imagine, if you will, a set Episcopalian campground where not only could there be larger annual 5 day camps for youth and families (we often did Family Camp as well), but the grounds could host all kinds of smaller parish and larger diocene sized events. In my experience, it becomes something like a “spiritual hub.”
Anyway, it seems to me that there could be a lot of good done for the health of a diocese if they had such a camp. At the very least, they did a lot for me as a kid.