Sunday, November 11, 2012

Paulhaven Part 6

Before I left, I took a walk over to the small garden area.  Up in a nearby tree, I spotted a rustic-looking old moss-covered, gray birdhouse.  Could this birdhouse be mine from ten years ago?  Doubtful, but I thought I’d check it out.  On closer inspection, I made out the word, “amour” painted in green on the front.  Yes.  My little birdhouse.  Still on the tree where I put it ten years ago.  The song, Birdhouse in Your Soul” closes with the verse, "And while you're at it, keep the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul."  I carry the love and light of Paulhaven with me wherever I go.  And I promise to keep the light inside the birdhouse in my soul burning brightly forever.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Paulhaven Part 5

Friday night is the big dance party and fireworks show.  This is the biggest event of the week and is a perfect close to an amazing camp session.  All the youth get dressed up and the girls spend hours in the lodge “salon” doing their makeup and hair.  DJ Justin brings all his equipment, spins the tunes and rocks the lodge with blasting sound and his magnificent laser lights show.  A highlight is watching the men of Paulhaven perform a rousing YMCA dance in Village People costume.  Then we gather outside for the big midnight fireworks show.  It is really quite spectacular for a small budget fireworks operation.  I was very impressed.  This big evening is such a fantastic way to finish off the week.  Saturday is a time for goodbyes.  It is always a sad time.  Everyone gathers for a group photo and we do a last assembly around the campfire which burned so brightly throughout the week at Paulhaven.  I was presented with a tie-dyed t-shirt signed by all the campers.  It was a touching gift which I will happily wear with pride.  Each name, each person on that t-shirt is special to me.  Everyone I met at camp is a precious gift.  I am grateful have had the opportunity to get to know each youth and each youth leader at Paulhaven and the memories of the good times I had there will stay with me until I can return and reunite with this great group of friends.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Paulhaven Part 4

Some of my favorite times at Paulhaven were the morning and evening chapel services.  The morning services were led by Pastor Dave.  He introduced us to a parable and provided a brief explanation of the lesson that Jesus was teaching in the parable.  Evening chapels were led by the teen classes.  My class chapel was about the Prodigal Son.  I love how enthusiastically everyone sings the hymns.  Whether people know the tune or not, everybody sings their heart out!  Speaking of singing, each evening there is a campfire sing-along.  Everyone has their favorite and it’s great to see everyone gathered in song.  Sometimes it is a hug night, and everyone goes around the circle and hugs everyone.  Cookies and cocoa come at the end of every campfire.  Yum! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Paulhaven Part 3

Recreation was exhausting.  The beginning of the week was quite warm and sunny and after class time, we played a volleyball and soccer tournament.  The four rec teams alternated playing each other.  We also played some volleyball and soccer in the afternoon when it was no longer warm out, but hot!  All the games were very fun, but I must admit that I was pretty tired, especially during those hot afternoon games.  Later in the week it cooled off a bit, the clouds gathered above us and a nice breeze blew in.  On Wednesday we went on the traditional picnic softball game.  After class time we all went for a fairly lengthy walk up to the baseball field, gathered at a gazebo and ate sandwiches.  Then we spent the afternoon playing a big game of softball.  It was a beautiful day.  Perfect for softball and I really enjoyed myself.  Later in the week we also went on two beach outings.  Relaxing on the beach was a pleasant break from the rigors of volleyball, soccer and softball.  However, if you didn’t keep a close watch on what was going-on around you, you were likely to get thrown in the lake.  Everyone got wet on beach afternoons!  And the beach is not the only place that you get wet.  A giant water fight happened one afternoon back at Paulhaven camp.  Water balloons, water guns, cups, pitchers, pails, buckets, hoses…pretty much anything that holds or shoots water is used to soak one and all.  It was great fun to watch Chris douse Pastor Dave with a bucket of from the roof of the lodge.  At least they let Dave finish his cigar first.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Paulhaven Part 2

When I received the email requesting my participation from the 2012 Paulhaven camp committee in the spring of this year, I knew it was time to return.  It had been too long.  A decade had past since my last visit and nine summer camp sessions.  I quickly agreed and made my plans to revisit.  Driving down the dirt path to Paulhaven, now ten years later with new camp pastor, Rev. David Fekete, or Pastor Dave as they call him, (P Davy for short) was like recalling a foggy dream.  When I pulled into the camp it was like opening a time capsule.  Memories of ten years ago leaped into my mind.  The cabins, the lodge, the fire pit, the water tower, lake, flagpole and soccer field.  Yes, everything was here; nearly everything was the same.  And the warm smiles, the welcomes, and the beautiful people were there too.  Some the same, some new faces, but quickly all felt like old friends.
Shortly after I arrived, I was shown to my cabin, Kelly’s cabin really, (thank you Kelly) and we met for a staff meeting to review the weekly schedule and receive our jobs.  This year, I think there were something like 35 youth aged 9 - 18!  I was assigned to a recreation team, but I really wanted to teach, so they moved students around and opened up a teaching position for me.  So I was able to serve as both a rec team leader and a teacher.  Little did I know how much work that was.  Wow.  Hardly a minute of free time the whole week.  But, boy was it ever fun.  Morning class time was wonderful.  I taught the second oldest class and had seven teens aged fifteen to sixteen.  We studied the parables and the teens participated actively and were very attentive.  They each got a chance to tell their own parable complete with a moral and lesson.  They also performed a skit of the Good Samaritan.  I loved my class time and I hope the teens enjoyed it too.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Paulhaven Part 1

There is a quirky band that goes by the name “They Might Be Giants”.  Perhaps you’ve heard of them.  In the chorus of one of their more popular hits they sing “make a little birdhouse in your soul”.  It’s a sweet little song that I have always enjoyed listening to.  Now after returning home from Paulhaven camp 2012, the song has new meaning for me.  And I have a birdhouse in my soul. 
I first attended Paulhaven camp in July of 2002, ten years ago.  I was a new youth director and I was excited to be going to a Swedenborgian summer youth camp that I had never been to before.  Rev. John Maine was the camp pastor and I came to Paulhaven as a teacher.  I remember pulling into the camp thinking how do the kids survive for a week in this camp up in the middle of nowhere with no hot water and electricity?  And by the end of that week back in 2002, my answer arrived.  They don’t survive, they thrive!  Kids don’t need luxuries like power.  They get all the energy they need from the spirit and enthusiasm of fellow campers at Paulhaven.  Kids don’t need hot showers.  They receive love from caring campers to keep them warm.  I was astounded by how much the staff was able to accomplish in a camp with so little material to work with.  They had heart and soul unlike any I had experienced before.  Spirited chapel services, delicious and fun meals (like eating with utensils on Spaghetti night), loads of recreational play like soccer, softball, volleyball and a ping pong tournament, a beach outing, evening campfire sing alongs, a fantastic closing dance party, and of course, camp crafts.  And in 2002, we made birdhouses.  I made a birdhouse love shack.  Bright red and purple with a heart on the roof and the French word for love, “amour”, painted in green on the front.  A place like Paulhaven with this much love needed a love shack for the birds.  I secured my birdhouse to a sturdy birch tree, snapped a picture of it, and drove away from this little caring camp community in the woods.  Goodbye Paulhaven 2002.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring Update

The Almont winter retreat was a while ago, but I thought a post about it was in order. The retreat was on music and music was certainly a major component of the retreat. It was a blessing to have Paul Deming, a professional musician help lead this retreat. His guitar play was beautiful and his song writing was wonderful. He is a great guy and his smile and positive mood is contagious. But what really struck me about this past winter retreat was the way teens made music in their simple and unique way. Alex belting out Christmas music on the clarinet. Celie and Chris' beautifully created rain stick. Beccah shyly playing the oboe. The clay kazoos. Dr. Dave smiling and shaking the rattle to Beatles tunes with Lori, Alice and Holly singing along. Adam singing Three Wooden Crosses at the closing communion worship service. These are the simple musical memories that I continue to reflect on. I was also moved deeply by the wonderful psalms that you teens wrote. They were emotional and touching on many levels. I print them here so you can all see them.

Psalm 1

Sing unto the Lord all the earth

and all the sea and sky.

Worship Him in joyful song

come to Him with shouts of praise.

Know it is He who created us

and He who keeps us.

We are His own,

the fish of His ocean.

(Alice, Lucas, Bekka, Adam)

Psalm 2

Thank you God for helping us when we need it.

Thank you for guiding us in times of need.

For without your light we would be lost.

For without your love we would be missing.

I praise you in song, my gracious God.

I shout to the heavens with love and thanks.

(Celia, Liz, Ashley, Andrew, Kalib)

Psalm 3

My eyes refuse to open

I cannot wake up.

I am unable to get out of bed

I cannot get up to better your world.

I begin to drift off during the most important things

My eyes begin to close when I try to focus.

God support me through this difficulty

Give my spirit strength.

(Mariel, Deckard, Holly, Jon, Alex)

Psalm 4

I feel alone all the time.

Even when surrounded by people I am lonely.

I can't bring myself to do anything.

I don't try at the things I love.

Comfort is found so rarely.

I always search for warmth and love.

Someday it will get better

and you, God, will lift me up.

(Chris, Celie, Beccah, Skylor)

Of course, roller skating, catch phrase and frozen ultimate frisbee are always highlights for me as well, however, escorting Holly through the Exodus to Independence journey was wonderful (albeit bittersweet) and very emotional for me. It is hard for me to grasp that Holly is 19 now. She has been such a major part of the SCYL, from attending retreats and camps, putting out those great issues of Clear Blue Sky and being league President. I will miss her dearly at retreats. It seems only yesterday that I was greeting that new shy young girl at the youth group sleepover in Portland.

As winter retreat blurs into the past I find myself busy preparing for upcoming spring and summer events. Aside from my work with the younger preteen group (there is a retreat for 10 - 13 yr olds at Almont in the end of April), I have starting work on the Memorial retreat at Fryeburg Assembly and have already starting thinking about our annual all church Convention in early July. This year Convention is at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Convention involves a lot of planning and money, so if you are interested in going, please, please, contact me early so we can work on getting you there. That goes for Memorial retreat as well. I would love to see as many teens as possible come to these two events. I look forward to seeing you soon!