“Every summer is different and every summer is the same.” I’ve said it and heard it said in all of my previous summers here at Calvin Crest.
Every summer is different - there have been changes to the menu, the grounds, and the program. Each week there is a new combination of staff, campers, and program that create a week like no other before or since, and those weeks together create an entirely unique summer.
Every summer is the same - campers come to camp and we hike and swim and sing and learn and grow together. The weather is warm and the pool inviting. Chants rise up through the trees in Sherwood Forest, there are competitive games Crestview, and work projects get done to improve the facilities. God is moving in the lives of those who come up here as they have a chance to retreat from the busyness of daily life.
This summer feels wildly different. Each of us has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the changes in the way we live our lives - everything from the way we go to work and school to how we get groceries. I do not have to go into much detail for you to imagine that our lives as year round staff changed drastically on March 13 when we waved goodbye to our last Outdoor School group.
I’m extremely extroverted and thrive on spending time with people. I love few things more than being surrounded by a hundred screaming Sherwooders playing games. All year, I look forward to conversations with family campers at meals and over games of dominoes. I’m excited to see new faces and learn the stories behind each of them. In fact, I have a hard time resting during the summer because I feel like there are so many opportunities for me to spend time with people praying, playing, and learning.
When we made the decision to suspend our summer programming, it was heartbreaking. I mourned the loss of what I was expecting - we had already hired some exceptional summer staff, campers had already registered, and there were exciting conversations about our plans for the programs. I could not imagine what it would be like to have Calvin Crest sit empty, void of the connection, joy, and discovery that I count on each summer.
I was short-sighted.
Calvin Crest has not sat empty. Through Come & Camp, young campers are coming with their parents who usually just drop them off or send them in the church van. Staff alumni are bringing their spouses and children who have only before heard about this place. People who are coming to Calvin Crest for the first time and the hundredth time alike are getting the chance to retreat from their daily lives and rest in the fresh air.
This summer is different. I’m not playing in the creek with Sherwood campers on a Frolic. I’m not catching up with many of the kids and adults I’ve gotten to know over the last nine years. We do not have busy days filled with singing worship, listening to speakers, group games, and free time. But...
This summer is the same. People are coming to camp and they’re getting outside to hike and bike and swim at camp and in the surrounding National Forest and in Yosemite. Families and friends are singing together and having deep and necessary conversations full of healing and growth. God is moving in the lives of the people who are coming as they find ways to connect with Him, with one another, and with Creation.
In this season where everything feels different, I’m learning to keep my eyes open to see what is the same: God is faithfully moving in our world, actively restoring what is broken, and speaking to us all as we go about our lives (even when our lives don’t look exactly like we planned).
Christina Melahn is the Director of the Outdoor School at Calvin Crest. Since Covid-19, Christina has overseen Virtual Camp, Come & Camp and a myriad of behind the scenes details. She has been an integral leader at Calvin Crest since 2012.