Southern Ohio has a long history of embracing and empowering campers through our summer camp ministry. Procter Summer Camp, in the farmland outside of London, Ohio, welcomes children, youth and families of all backgrounds to an intentional Christian community of joy, fun and refreshment.

Camp programs are built on stories, shared memories and ritual; we sing silly songs, rejoice when a fellow camper catches a fish, share bread and wine in a joyful Eucharist, and close our day with songs and stories around a campfire. In 2017 we embraced our sacred traditions and incorporated new stories, songs and programming.

With “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters,” serving as this summer’s theme, the formation program encouraged campers to examine what they are thirsty or longing for, and what places or communities are oases or life-giving to them.

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The scripture used for the theme is found in Isaiah 55. One of the popular favorite lines from that passage this summer was “for you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace.” The camp staff saw this in action each week. Campers arrive on the property gleeful to be in community and on the farm, and are led back to their communities in peace to love and serve the Lord. Through our baptismal covenant we proclaim that we are reborn through water and the spirit, and take on a new life in Christ. May this peaceful water of connection that flows through the camp community quench our thirst and make all things new, while we hold fast to our camp tradition, unconditional love in Christian community.

In what we hope will become a new tradition, Procter this year partnered with the Latino Ministry Commission to offer campamento para familias, a bilingual English/Spanish family camp. The campers, congregants from the Latino Ministry Center in Forest Park, shared songs with the community, enthusiastically embraced the art of friendship bracelet making, spent afternoons at the pool and shared stories among their families and with the community. Most of all, these campers, enjoying Procter for the first time, were present in the peace that comes from hearty meals, supportive community and spending time at camp together. Campamento taught us that, when implemented thoughtfully, our camp traditions are timeless and inclusive. We hope campamento para familias continues to be part of the Procter tradition for years to come.

Learn more about the youth programs at Facebook.com/DSOYouth and on Instagram: @dsoyouth. Connect with the Procter Center at proctercenter.org.

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Andrea Foote serves as Interim Director of Youth and Summer Camping Ministries. You can contact her at afoote@proctercenter.org