The intangible secret

I’m going to let you in on a little Queensland Conference and Camping Centre (QCCC) secret.  The week before the annual She is conference (formerly known as Baptist Womens’ Convention) at QCCC Mapleton is given to a dedicated mid-year spring clean of the facilities in preparation for one of our favourite weekends of the year.

This is not to suggest the place is in need of it, it’s more of a spruce up.  And it’s not because we feel any pressure to keep up expectations, the facilities are well-maintained as a rule.  Our desire is to make the weekend perfect if we can.  There’s a good reason for this.

When I think of my wife (Anne) and all she does for me, our family and her friends, the QCCC determination to make the She is events a high point for our guests is really just our way of holding up a mirror to our women.  If QCCC wishes to exercise excellence in its hospitality, service and teaching, like it says in our vision statement, there can be no better marker of our capacity and progress than our women.

In camping we’re certain that providing people with the opportunity to get away from it all, to have time and space to reflect and have fellowship with others is the intangible secret ingredient to our ministry.

Take a straw poll of people in your circles and see how many have been profoundly impacted, or have made life-altering decisions within the context of camping.  David McCasland could have been talking about camping when he suggested “Hospitality means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.  Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.”

Women love camping.  The She is conference is one of many events we get to host each year that are focused on women.  I think part of the reason they’re drawn to camping is because of the attraction of the things QCCC aims to excel in – hospitality, service and teaching.  More so because a good camp must do these things well and in doing so bless women who spend a significant part of their lives doing these same things for others.

May I be as bold as to suggest that the QCCC vision statement contains some of the important (but sometimes under-rated) attributes and contributions our women folk contribute to our families, churches and communities?

Hospitality – The beautiful ministry of food, the precious gift of being able to arrive at a dining room to enjoy a meal one hasn’t had to prepare, and for which there will be no wash-up.  Food is the basic staple of human survival but it’s so much more than that.  Historically it has always been a potent ministry weapon, in fact the origins of the English word “ministry” derive from Minestrone soup given to travelers.  Excellence in hospitality creates time to linger over a meal table for hours, enjoying good food and fostering the kind of unhurried fellowship where relationship is built and deepened.

Service – An attribute that sees all of life’s little details diligently squared away is no easy task.  It requires an other-centredness which considers the needs and requirements of others and sets out to achieve it.  The daily routine of checking the kids’ school bags to make sure they have everything needed for their day is no different to our working towards a win/win partnership where our guests’ every need are facilitated.  When all the little details of a camp are taken care of our groups can maximize the time they have towards relationships and outcomes.

Teaching – Many women seem to be able to intuitively sense the sweet spot in the lives of others where with a quiet word and the right nudge they can have a profound impact.  Camping is also about having the sensitivity to the life and spiritual journey of our guests and being pro-active about using God-given sweet spots for profound impact.

The Director of the Queensland Baptist Women’s ministry, Sue Peters, asked me to write about why I’m passionate about ministry in camping.  I hope I’ve been able to open a little window into our world.  And that you’ll be encouraged to one day come through one of our doors in Brookfield, Mapleton or Tamborine and experience it for yourself.  More than most, women deserve the relaxation, restoration and time for reflection and relationship that camping can provide.  It’s not just about a physical spring clean.  It’s about a spring clean of the soul!

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