Abigail is going to sleep-away camp for the first time. Her friend, Asher, is going to two camps - one is a regular camp, and the other is a camp for kids who like to play music. Asher plays the piano and cello. They each are taking all the T-shirts and shorts, socks and shoes, swimming suits and flashlights that the camp list asks them to take.
Asher told me he liked to make s'mores around the campfire. Someone asked him what a s'more was. Obviously a question from a person who'd never slept out in a tent and sat by the campfire. Asher explained how, first, you find a stick in the woods to put a marshmallow on. Then you roast the marshmallow so it's brown on the outside and gooey on the inside. You carefully put that toasted marshmallow on a graham cracker, put a piece of chocolate on the hot marshmallow so it gets a little (not a lot) melted, top it with another graham cracker, and you have a s'more.
Camp is like a vacation, filled with fun and learning new things. It's also a great time to remember that God goes with you, too. He isn't just at home. He isn't just at Sunday School or church. God is with you when you are swimming and boating, horseback riding or playing the cello. So when you go away and say goodbye to your family, you never need to say goodbye to God. Can you imagine doing that? "See you, God, have a great summer!"
When you go to camp, you don't have to pack God in your trunk. He can't be folded up like a T-shirt. Prayers and books that remind us about Him are great helpers, though. Abby is making a prayer book, and she is putting in it pictures and prayers she made up or found in the Bible. Like the 23rd Psalm and the Lord's Prayer. Here is a verse from Psalms she liked: "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?... If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there... thy right hand shall hold me" (Ps. 139:7, 9, 10).
She made wings of the morning out of paper doilies. Her own prayers are like reminders for herself: "I see the bumblebees. I see the trees. I see the skies above, and God sees me!"
Asher is taking the Bible and a book he studies with the Bible, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. This way, if he has a problem or just wants to feel close to God, he can open these books and find a God-message to help him. It's almost like going home for a few minutes or getting a prayer-hug from God.
One thing to remember about camp is that you usually do things in groups or teams. You may not always feel like swimming early in the morning (think cold water), but if that's when your group goes, part of being a good camper is going, too. Remember the s'mores? Well, the reason a s'more is so good is the way all the ingredients go together to make one great treat. That's what teamwork is, too - everyone working together and helping each other makes a great team.
You and God are a great team, too. His messages are always like a hug or a cheer: "I am with you; I am here."
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor