Sunday Snippet: WeHaKee, “A Little Slice of Heaven”
The camp experience can have a significant impact in so many ways for all participants whether it be a child, an adolescent or an adult. But the spiritual experience many campers and staff experience during their time at camp is often profound and life-changing. Sitting around a camp fire with good friends & caring adults, looking out at the moon rising over the lake while the fireflies come in and out of view can be the idyllic spiritual setting. But so can meeting a new friend from across the country or the world, hearing the encouraging word from a favorite counselor, or seeing the woods without a video screen or headphones can be absolutely enlightening!
Being a camp owned by a Catholic order of sisters would suggest that WeHaKee Camp for Girls will be a spiritual experience. It is important to note however, that the spirituality experienced at WeHaKee transcends the prescribed boundaries of religion – something the Sisters have insisted upon since 1923! Yes, we offer Mass each week and conclude each day with evening prayer, something our campers frequently share that they appreciate & learn from these gatherings – they are important. But sleeping in a cabin among tall, virgin white pines, listening to the night sounds of crickets, bull frogs, night hawks and the breezes through the leaves helps a child imagine their place in this remarkable world. And so can trying something new for the first time, or meeting a new friend different from oneself, or receiving supportive & nurturing encouragement from a camp counselor. It is nearly impossible to experience the world in this manner and not feel that one is part of something much bigger!
“The science indicates that opportunities for spiritual growth …
in inspirational settings, like camp, mitigate depression,
substance abuse, addictive behaviors, and other health concerns.”
(Camp & Spiritual Development, Tom Rosenberg,
Camping Magazine, March, 2017)
Parents often share with us that their child returned home from WeHaKee with a more caring, positive and empathetic attitude. And we see that as evidence that spirituality has played a role. The camper has realized that she had a role to play in making the world a little bit better and it can start with her! And research is showing that there are even more tangental benefits of the spirituality of camp. In summarizing Dr. Lisa Miller‘s book, The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving, American Camp Association president/CEO, Tom Rosenberg states “The science indicates that opportunities for spiritual growth through parents and mentors in inspirational settings, like camp, mitigate depression, substance abuse, addictive behaviors, and other health concerns. Research shows that spiritual awareness prepares teens and young adults for important inner work that fosters individuation, identity, resilience, character, meaningful work, and healthy relationships.” (Camp & Spiritual Development, Tom Rosenberg, Camping Magazine, March, 2017).
A WeHaKee camper once shared that she found Camp WeHaKee to be a “a little slice of heaven”. For all who have set foot on the shores of Hunter Lake, we can agree that this truly captures the spiritual feeling that is felt at camp each summer. Camp is truly a spiritual experience for all!
Thank you and have a great week everyone!