In 2017, the diocese piloted a program for Latino families to experience a traditional weekend family camp at Procter with special attention given to inclusion of Spanish speakers called Campamento Sagrada Familia. Twelve participants from three families from the Latino Ministry Center in Forest Park came to the camp. Those few but enthusiastic families had a great experience at Procter. In fact, they had such a great time that through word of mouth alone, Campamento Sagrada Familia grew to serving 60 participants from 13 different families in 2018!
This incredible growth in just one year speaks to the transformative power of setting aside sacred time to connect with your family, whether biological or chosen. Family Camps are Procter’s most successful camp programs for this very reason. Camp director Andrea Foote and I dreamed of being able to offer this program to the families of the Latino Ministry Center and other Latino families in our diocese. Campamento Sagrada Familia would not have been possible without the generosity of Procter Center director Amy Boyd, as well as the generosity of spirit of the Summer Camp counselors and Procter Center staff, who opened their hearts to the possibility of connection across lines of difference.
As campers began to arrive on July 6, and the property began to fill with sounds of kids laughing, parents greeting one another with buenas tardes, and countless comments about how beautiful Procter is, I knew that we were about to experience something really special. Together we shared a weekend full of laughter, fun, community, and surprisingly cool weather. Many kids tried swimming in a lake for the first time, there was a competitive adults-only volleyball game, community members got to know one another better and families got to spend intentional time together talking about who they are as a family and what makes their family sacred.
The cafeteria during mealtimes was a cacophony of Spanglish, of people doing their best to communicate with one another despite a language barrier and all the awkwardness that can come along with that. The campers who didn’t speak much English did their best to communicate with the camp staff who didn’t speak much Spanish, and vice versa, and real connections were made. It showed us a glimpse of what the church (and the world!) could be like if each of us made a personal commitment to being vulnerable and doing our best to build relationships with people who are different from us.
With a little extra effort to make sure that Spanish-speaking people were included in announcements and worship and a few very minor tweaks to the schedule, we were able to offer a true experience of Procter’s beloved Family Camp program to an entirely new community of people, and each one of those people left a little bit changed. God’s love transcends difference. It transcends language and anything that would keep us apart from one another. When we remember that God’s love, and not our own comfort or preferences, is the bedrock of our church, we can have moments and experiences like Campamento Sagrada Familia, that show us a taste of God’s reign where there is a place for everyone.
The Rev. Maggie Foote is a resident priest at the Latino Ministry Center in Forest Park and at Ascension and Holy Trinity, Wyoming, and serves as the chair of the Latino Ministry Commission for the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Connect with Maggie at firstname.lastname@example.org.