Last Sunday night all the young men of Rockmont gathered together by camp for Council. Council is one of our oldest traditions at Rockmont. The three camps meet separately at their own council rings. Mountain Camp Council is set back about a mile into the woods. All 150 Mountain Campers gather together at Council to reflect back over the last week, to honor our successes, to challenge ourselves, to laugh with each other, and to enjoy being outside, at a sacred place, around a campfire. We use familial language at Council, emphasizing the brotherly bond between the campers, and what it means to treat each other as brothers, both those in our cabins and those younger campers in Deer and Bear Camp.
We talk about taking responsibility for each other, what it means to live and be an active part of a community who treats each other with respect, and how to support each other. It’s definitely a high calling, and not one that is easy for anyone. I struggle to find the words to address such a big topic with my campers. I often wonder how much of that calling they process, if they understand what is being asked of them. And to be honest, I don’t know. I don’t know if they intellectually understand the depth of the calling to community. But I do know they hear it with their heart, because I see them act it out every day.
I see them act it out with my own kids. I’m amazed as I watch teenagers go out of their way to make my 5 year old feel special with high fives and questions about his day. I see it in the way campers play “superhero” with my 3 year old, graciously letting him be the good guy that triumphs in every situation. I see it in the way campers stop me as I walk by their table in Eden Hall with one of my 5 month old twins because they want to make a baby smile. These boys understand what it means to help out a younger brother.
I see them act community out with each other as they open up with prayer requests. The courage these boys have to share what is on their heart and minds during a time of prayer is astounding. I see community when they stop by the health center to visit a brother who is sick. I see it when they put an arm around a friend during a song or in a time of need. I see it as they check in with each other to make sure things are going well. These boys understand compassion.
I see them act out community in their conflict. After conflict has passed, I see campers go back toward each other and pass peace. I see them sit with their counselors to work out resolution. I see them actively go toward each other to help one another reach the high standards they know they can achieve. These boys understand accountability.
And I see them act out community in their celebrations. From the way a cabin celebrates winning a game to the way they tell their opponent “Good game,” they honor one another. The joy they feel for one another when someone makes a great disc golf shot or when someone completes a hard challenge or gets recognition shows they care. These boys understand how to hold each other up.
These boys create a community that extends beyond our camp property. I hear how they keep up with each other through the school year. I see the sorrow as they leave camp for the summer, and I see the joy when they reunite again. Our community is not perfect. We have our own failures and things that we wish had gone different. That’s part of what makes a community. But what I see in these young men at camp are boys who treat each other as family. Boys who want to do what is right for each other. It’s boys who realize, maybe even only at a heart level, that they are created in the image of the almighty God, and that they are bound together as brothers in Christ. I don’t know if they can verbalize the community they create here at camp, but I know it’s what keeps them wanting to come back. It’s what so many parents call the “magic” of Rockmont. They are respected. They are known. They are brothers.
Mountain Camp Director