Despite our doubts, we packed up our car. Within an hour and a half, the scenery changed from city to suburban highway, then to windy roads among giant redwood trees. The setting of the great outdoors was refreshing and set the scene for a weekend of communing with our church family. On Friday afternoon, people began to set up campsites, and it was exciting to see everyone in a totally different context—under the redwood trees, instead of in a formal church setting. We got ready to roast hot dogs and marshmallows, and while we had to make sure all of our food was secured in bear lockers so we didn’t attract any animals, we did attract a lot of hungry mosquitoes.
We began our Saturday morning with a devotional moment where we reflected on the upcoming day and how “play” fit in with worship. Each person received a chunk of homemade play dough and we were encouraged to allow our hands to freely shape the dough as we reflected on the words of a devotional prayer and bible passages.
The theme of play continued after the morning meditation and took a more physical form. About 25 people gathered in a circle and engaged each other in about seven or eight well-planned games. We learned fun facts about each other, got to run through the clearing to avoid “seaweed,” danced, and sang. In the afternoon, as some of us took naps, the more intrepid members of the church went on a six mile hike! We heard that a couple of our campers “accidentally” fell into a stream. The kids explored and played, climbing trees and rocks.
On Saturday night, we continued getting to know one another while preparing hobo pockets, and eating S’mores! Our family was not able to camp a second night, so unfortunately we missed the morning church service in the woods.
For our first camping adventure with a small child, we were very glad that we were able to experience it with our church family. Tyler loved running around with the other kids, and it was a hospitable experience for those of us who are not expert campers. The weekend was an opportunity to spend time with our church family in a beautiful setting. The trip enabled us to strengthen connections with those we were familiar with and develop new relationships with people we those who we did not know. Spending time together renews our relationship with the church. We look forward to future MBCC retreats!
-Cathy & Christina