Reflections from the minister, Rev. Amy Kindred
“For the love of God, when will it be 3 o’clock?” – Spoken by a 5-year-old who
attended a Unitarian Universalist summer camp in Terre Haute, Indiana in 2010.
Did you go to summer camp when you were a youngster? How fun was that?!
I remember one summer morning in June when I was 9 years old. I quickly dressed and went outside. I didn’t see my friends and wondered why they weren’t around. Ever since the day school had ended for summer break, we had gathered to ride bikes and to invent our own games and festivals. On that morning, not one child could be found. It wasn’t long before a friend ran by my house. I yelled, “Where are you going?” The child pointed in the direction of a church building with a bright yellow banner hanging out front. I saw the three giant letters
printed on it. It read, “VBS” (Vacation Bible School). I looked back at my friend and said, “What do they
do there?” The boy, now skipping, answered loudly, “Arts and Crafts.”
Suddenly, in my mind, the waters parted, and I could see the holy land!! I thought, “You mean there is a place where you could do arts and crafts all the time??” I went back into the house and asked my mother if I could go to the “VBS church of arts and crafts” too.
She walked with me to the building. We entered and descended the stairs to the basement. Mom talked to the ladies and told me I could attend the camp. She left and I joined my friends who were gathered around a table loaded with refreshments.
That week, which occurred nearly 50 years ago this June, left a lasting memory. The fun was non-stop for five whole days. We painted flowers, cut and pasted pictures of animals, filled empty pages of journals with stickers, and sang to music played on a piano by a happy woman who wore a hat. I don’t recall the “Bible” part of camp activities but I do remember how the experience was saturated with joy and laughter.
When I grew into adulthood and felt called to Unitarian Universalist ministry, I decided I wanted to work with a congregation that was open to providing the same kind of summer camp experiences for children. Together, in 2009, members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Terre Haute, Indiana and I organized their first summer camp. Although it was created for children, I noticed that the adults who volunteered their time that week had just as much fun, if not more, than the little ones. I still giggle when I recall the following incident.
Jimmy had arrived to the first day of UU summer camp on a Monday morning. His mom had put away his lunch box, kissed him on the cheek and waved “good-bye” for the day. The adult volunteers and the children had gathered around a chalk board and prepared to go over the events scheduled for the week ahead.
After listing the daily activities, the camp director ended with, “And, we’ll have ice cream on Friday, at 3 pm, to celebrate our time together.” On that first day, after lunch, Jimmy walked over to me and asked, “Are we having ice cream?” I said, “Not today, Jimmy. On Friday, at 3 o’clock, we’ll have ice cream.” At the same time on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the youngster stood wide-eyed and eager in front of me and asked, “Are we having ice cream?” At the same time on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I repeated, “Not today, Jimmy. On Friday, at 3 o’clock, we’ll have ice cream.”
Finally, Friday arrived. After lunch, our ritual began again. After he asked about the ice cream, I said, “It’s only 12:30, Jimmy. We’ll have ice cream in 2 and a half more hours, at 3 o’clock.” The child fell to his knees, raised his fists in the air and yelled, “For the love of God, when will it be 3 o’clock?” Although drama has always been part of a Unitarian Universalist summer camp that I’ve helped to create, sometimes it occurs spontaneously!