I am writing this from my room at Camp Io-Dis-E-Ca (Iowa District East Camp) where Rev. Terry Small is the Camp Director. They have a “pastor of the week” program where any LC-MS pastor can come for a week and lead morning and evening prayer, and interpret a skit at the campfire everynight, as well as mingle and interact with campers and counselors. The rest of the time is free. I’m using it to prepare for classes for next Fall and to plan services until the end of the Church Year. My daughter, Susan, is here right now too with Horse Camp. So far it’s been really enjoyable and relaxing. I even got to take a dip in the pool last night.
The thing I like about this camp is that they have no “funny business” when it comes to catechesis and confessing the Christian Faith. Over the last few years several changes have been made to the way things are done at the camp, much to the irritation of many people, but good nevertheless. It’s always irritating to change things, even if it is for the better. Of course, I’m talking about the fact that at this camp, they make a clear line of distinction between “play time” and “prayer time.” They do a good job of this too. The fun songs that are sung are just that: fun. They are not religious, they do not try to teach theology. They are just fun. For morning and evening prayers, we sing hymns, we use a set order of prayer, and it is always led by the Pastor for the week so as to avoid any confusion about the role of the laity and the Office of the Ministry. This is the way a camp should be run. As I was telling one of the counselors this morning, when you try to blend the “fun” songs with religious elements, it makes the fun less fun and sucks the seriousness out of the Word of God. And then the kids come back to their churches with all sorts of ideas on what they want their pastors to do for worship. Not good. They even pray Luther’s meal time prayers for Dinner. Excellent! They recite a part of the Catechism at each prayer office, and have a time of instruction from the pastor based on the Catechism or the Scripture Reading for the day.
This summer the theme is “Forgiven. Period.” Each week the campers here about Baptism as God’s stamp of forgiveness, Confession and Absolution, The Lord’s Supper, and the Pastoral Office as the dispenser of these gifts. Awesome. Simply awesome. I commend the Board of Directors for the Camp, and Rev. Terry Small who has done his best to implement these practices at the camp in an evangelical way. Yes, it has created some animosity. Yes, there are people who may never come to this camp because of it. But for me, it is the only reason I sent my girls to the camp this summer. The counselors are very respectful of the pastors who come here, and make us feel at home.
Thanks to my dear wife, who is going solo this week with our three youngest. I hope to come back recharged and ready to continue the dispensing of Christ’s holy gifts.