On Friday evening, August 12th, the church campus transformed into a campground as tents, friendship bracelets, and laughter started springing up. People came together to create a space rich with conversation, shenanigans, and songs. The first (and we hope not last!) Church of Our Saviour Family Campout was breathed into life!
Last spring, when it had become clear to our Children’s Ministry team that we did not have the volunteer base to pull off an entire week of Vacation Bible School this summer, we started dreaming up other ways to create meaningful space for children and families to experience God.
Our team met to think through the essence of Vacation Bible School, which has been such a beloved part of Children’s Ministry across generations and regions. Our hope was to reimagine ways to meet the needs of our community while living within our still-limited staff and volunteer base. Just as Jeff so eloquently preached last Sunday, our organizations are changing as much as we as individuals are, and if we don’t evolve alongside the needs of our community, we risk irrelevance.
As we began to brainstorm, one of the things that stood out to us was the chatter among the children in the Sacred Garden after our movie nights, as we pitched tents for sleepovers. Gabe Vazquez-Reyes and I share a deep and abiding love for the summer camp experience and thought it just might be the right template for a family campout.
The thing about camping, for me, that’s magical and can be transformative is the way it celebrates rest, creativity, and the opportunity to be our authentic selves. We tried to infuse our campout with these components, inviting the adults as well as the children to make buttons, to run and play the ridiculous organized games (just ask Jeff Ross if he is a Giant, a Witch, or a Dwarf!), and to sing their hearts out as we gathered around the fire at the end of the night.
While it’s tempting to declare “success!” based on the fact that we had over 40 people join us from so many facets of our ministry (Children’s Chapel attendants, Acolytes, longtime COS members, WHAM families, preschool families, and San Gabriel community members), the real accomplishments delighting us were the conversations that happened, the laughter that was shared, and the connections that were deepened by coming together for an “away” experience—right here in our own backyard. How fortunate we are to have this beautiful space to call ours. Thanks to all of you who helped, and all of you who came out to share. We’re hoping to be planning our next campout before long!