This week’s word is Shalom! Shalom is a Jewish word that means peace. The Jewish community uses Shalom as a traditional greeting and sending out, showing us that peace is something offered and received. Shalom is similar to Aloha from Week 1, as it is both a spirit and a commitment. We are called to live in a way that allows the sharing and receiving of Shalom.
Shalom, or rather the absence of Shalom, is found in Genesis 27:1-26. In this story, Jacob, with the help of his mother Rebekah, steals his older twin brother Esau’s birthright and blessing from their father Isaac. This story is the culmination of a conflict that had been brewing since before the brothers were born. The manipulation and power dynamics of the family are shown through this passage, along with underlying layers of hurt, betrayal, and anger. No one in the family extends peace or lives into Shalom in this passage. Even in conflicts that seem irreconcilable, we are called to work for reconciliation and heal broken relationships through a spirit of peace freely given and accepted. Pastor Chip Bennett reminded us that God can show up in unexpected places. Peace can come, even in the most unlikely of places or relationships, when we find Shalom in our own hearts and offer Shalom to those around us.
We work to share the spirit of Shalom through the affirmations we write for each other at the end of each week of camp. Every camper gets a sheet of paper with their name written on it. This paper is passed around to the rest of their family group, and every other camper and counselor writes them a short note. Affirmations are something positive about the camper, which could be something they do well, something they are admired for, or something that reflects God’s peace and love. Once everyone has written on everyone else’s paper, the papers are returned and campers can take their affirmations home with them.
Affirmations are powerful because they come from outside yourself. You may not see something in yourself, but it may be very clear to other people. Affirmations can also help to mend conflicts, because even if you may have had a difficult week with someone, you have to recognize the gifts that this person has. In this way, Shalom is felt by all.
This week, we had four different specialty camps. Wacky Water Adventures focused on our aquatic activities, which meant a lot of time in the pool, on the lake, and doing wacky, watery things. Night Owls stayed up late and slept in, giving them plenty of time to sleep out several nights and enjoy nighttime activities like night hikes. Hold Your Horses saddled up for a week of horse riding and learning about the care and keeping of horses. Finally, our Beginners and Mini-Classic camps were here only for three days, but they packed in a ton of activities and fun!
Our second Dayspring camp was also a blast! Three of our staff traveled to Rainelle, WV, to have camp with 14 kids. Despite some trailer trouble on the way down, we had a fun week! Our Dayspring campers practiced archery, played nine-square and gaga, and had a dance party with karaoke! The campers gave all the staff Moana-themed nicknames. We had a great water day where we played in bubbles and soap. We also made a trip to Summersville for a lake day, complete with swimming, tie-dye, and a hike. Some of our campers had special needs this week, and we enjoyed ministering with them and teaching each other how to treat each other with kindness and love.
We would like to thank Pastor Ron Gamble and Rainelle UMC for hosting Dayspring and providing housing and laundry services. We appreciate the Greenbrier School District and Mark Williams for providing transportation for our campers to Summersville. We are also very grateful for our four volunteers this week, John, Ashley, Steve, and Rachel, for all their hard work and service.
Shalom requires us to respond to conflict and work towards reconciliation. As our campers go forth in Shalom, may they recognize the profound impacts they have on our world.
Check out our end-of-week slideshow here!