In some parts of the country, the long, hot days of summer are still in full swing. In other parts, the nights are already cooler, and school is already back in. Across the country, families are starting to ease out of summer mode and into the adventures and challenges of a new season.
As we look back on this summer with our new Creation Care Camp curriculum, Wild Wonder, I spoke with Shannon McClure, a children’s pastor in Franklin, Tennessee. Her church, St Johns, partnered with Luminous Parish to offer Wild Wonder to kids in Franklin. Edited for clarity and length, here’s what she had to say:
What was your favorite part of camp this year?
SM: I loved the Wild Wonder Curriculum from the beginning! It was so well thought out and laid out. Nothing was hard to find or plan. It was a wonderful experience from beginning to end.
What is my favorite part? That is really not a fair question. It was honestly all so wonderful. Before camp began I thought the Feast would be my favorite. I loved the idea of breaking bread together each day, and I appreciated the focus on local or home made items and keeping it simple. We had two volunteers who made homemade breads, biscuits and pretzels. They were delicious. Stopping all activities and coming together each day was a delightful experience. It allowed all of us, old and young, to talk and listen.
The prayer was perfect as well. Having a liturgy for the time takes all the guess work away and allows for the moving of the spirit. My biggest surprise, and perhaps my favorite, was the Nature Break station. We have a very active group of kids. They are loud, rowdy and competitive. I was a little skeptical as to how this station would work with them. THEY LOVED IT. They all responded so well to the quiet. They were thoughtful and contemplative. They heard and saw things that I missed. Crazy how God does that.
What aspects of Wild Wonder stood out for you?
SM: One of the things that really made our week such a success was my volunteers. I had two science teachers and an art teacher volunteer to lead stations and they were perfect for the experiments and projects. I had a woman who works as a doula help lead the Nature Break station and the Feast was prepared and led by a baker and a homemaker. Everyone worked within their passions and it was a wonderful thing to be a part of.
We also included our youth in the week. It gave them volunteer hours for school and allowed them to build relationships with the young kids. The campers loved having the older kids there and the relationships developed further through the summer.
St Johns [Anglican Church] has done Creation Care Camp in years past from A Rocha. I was not the leader at the time. The last two years we have written our own curriculum. It was good, but it was not as thorough or as beautiful as Wild Wonder. The thought and planning that went in to the Wild Wonder curriculum is impressive. There was nothing that was not thought out. Everything was connected.
SM: I honestly do not know who learned or enjoyed the week more, the adults or the kids. I had a wonderful response from parents and kids just about the beauty of it all. Nothing was “dumbed down” for the campers. The more that was expected of them the more they rose up and exceeded my expectations.
This curriculum hit all learning styles. Kids could touch, see, and hear all the things. As for myself and my leaders, we were constantly confronted with the beauty of all of creation. We saw God’s hand in every owl pellet or fresh loaf of bread. We all viewed it with wonder and amazement.
I am so thankful to be a part of this project and I hope to be able to use it next year. I plan on using some of the ideas in our children’s worship this fall, mostly the reflection time and idea of a “feast” where we can all come together and really listen to each other. As the body of Christ, it is a beautiful thing to do.