Sunday Snippet: Abundant Faith & Spirituality At Camp!
Since 1923, WeHaKee Camp for Girls has been owned & operated by the Dominicans of Sinsinawa, an order of Catholic Sisters who have been committed to the education and advancement of all women and girls throughout their history. And their advocacy has never been limited as they truly serve all – in all their schools, in all their programs, in all their service to others. And Camp WeHaKee embraces that vision as well, providing a welcoming and faith-filled spiritual community for all girls!
WeHaKee’s mission is based on the five core values of Community, Compassion, Justice, Truth and Peace. These are also the basis of the faith and spirituality of the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters. They are widely considered universal values found throughout most religions around the world. Regardless of one’s determined faith or religion, we feel that the firm foundation of our core values creates a WeHaKee experience that will strengthen the values and faith of all of our campers and participants!
It may at times appear that faith and spirituality is diminished or relagated to the back burner in the community of WeHaKee, but nothing could be farther from the truth. When coming on board as the first lay directors of Camp WeHaKee nearly a decade ago, Maggie & Bob were given a clear directive that WeHaKee was to remain welcoming and inclusive of all girls, regardless of faith, spirituality, religion, race, geography, sexuality or any other discriminating factor.
So, does this water down the faith and spirituality that a camper experiences at WeHaKee (or as some might suggest ‘Are we less Catholic’)? Hardly! At WeHaKee, it is about living your faith, not simply announcing it. And as we live our faith, particularly with those of different faiths and religions, it is here that we discover we have more in common than not!
How does one live their faith at WeHaKee exactly? Through our choices, words and actions! We hire staff who exhibit a grounded acceptance of our core values and we guide them to effectively & naturally display these values in all they do at camp – in essence, to be great role models! As exceptional role models, our counselors have a profound impact on our campers’ choices, words and actions. It is a continuing cycle that helps every member of the camp community begin to embrace and practice a set of common, accepted values throughout many faiths!
Is there a place for prayer and worship at WeHaKee? Many places actually! WeHaKee is blessed with a beautiful chapel that overlooks Hunter Lake. Mass is celebrated here for the camp community once a week. And we conclude each day by coming together for Evening Prayer where a different camper cabin group leads the camp community in spoken prayer, song, readings and perhaps a skit or other short presentation. Often campers choose on their own to remain in the chapel after Evening Prayer for silent prayer or meditation. We also pray before each meal, often through song, but also in word. And each cabin group engages in a brief reflection in their cabin once everyone has settled in for the night.
How are other faiths and religions viewed at WeHaKee? With openness and acceptance! WeHaKee prides itself on the diversity of our campers and that includes our religious diversity. On average, 35-45% of our campers are of other faiths. We will have campers from a variety of Protestant faiths as well as those from the Jewish, Hindu and Muslim faiths. And many who do not identify a specific faith. But we do believe campers are on a spiritual journey and we hope their journey’s path through WeHaKee will help them strengthen their own values, faith and spirituality, whatever that may be!
Faith and spirituality is woven throughout the fabric of the WeHaKee experience, which can run the risk of making them become indistinguishable to some. But by running all elements of the camp through the filter of our core values, we are intentional in ensuring that each WeHaKee participant has a multitude of opportunities to build and strengthen their own values & faith and come away a stronger, grounded, more giving and loving person.
Have a great week everyone!