Trying to keep warm in a Canadian summer!
“Communitas takes community to the next level and allows the whole of the community to share a common experience. It’s an intense community spirit, the feeling of great social equality, solidarity, and togetherness.”
“Liminality is a state of being on the “threshold” of or between two different existential planes.”
Earlier this year I toured three Provinces of Canada on a Christian Venues Association study tour. I was one of seven of the tour participants fortunate to be taken on an overnight canoe expedition to Red Cedar Lake in central Ontario with the Director from Camp Norland. Most of our tour group had not met prior to arrival in Canada so when we left for our canoe trip we were still very much in the formative group stages, even down to remembering each others’ names.
We may have only been away for less than forty-eight hours, but by the time we returned our group had experienced a powerful transformation driven by communitas and liminality, so much so that it was obvious to the remainder of the tour group. Eventually this side-trip became a driving force behind our entire group breaking down the social barriers and getting to know each other on much deeper levels than might have been thought possible in a two-week period.
Our canoe expedition saw us paddling ten kilometers on the first day on a gorgeous and secluded lake, breaking for lunch and then soon after arriving at our camp site for the night. We arrived at 2.30pm and with Canadian summer sunsets taking place at 10.30 or later I admit I thought it was a lot of time to be spending on an isolated spit of land in the middle of a lake, complete with bear whistles to combat the dangers of the local wild life.
In the end it was this very lack of busyness and schedule that “made” the trip. We set-up, we explored, we swam and then we sat and talked. Around a smoky fire we joked about the day and then shared about our lives. This morphed into a time of spontaneous group reflection on the Psalms and further deep sharing. We ate royally and the hours flicked by.
Sometime deep in the evening it occurred to all of us that we’d experienced that afternoon something resembling a significant portion of Jesus’ ministry years, and the type of relationship and discipleship that must have been the mark of His time with His disciples.
We’d short hopped across a body of water similar to Galilee to get away from the crowds, and then enjoyed unhurried time for sharing, reflection and teaching. And it contained power, as though the divine nestled heavily around us amidst a very humble camp site in the deep wilds of a Canadian summer.
This extraordinary, yet very ordinary experience reminded me yet again about what it is we seek to achieve in our camping and expeditions programs here at QCCC. As another Canadian camp Director puts it, our role is “to create the space that allows God to do His work”.
One of the most powerful tools in our arsenal is the creation of time away from the everyday where reflection is encouraged, perspective is sharpened, relationships are actively encouraged, time is available over meals and the divine gets to work without the clutter of the everyday.
If it’s been a while since you participated in a camp program, or went on a frontier expedition, you’re missing out on a lot.