The Southern Ohio District Church of the Brethren rents space at Cricket Holler, a Boy Scout Camp in the North Dayton, Ohio, area for a number of its summer camps.
Our hope was to have ten campers at Cricket Holler for the first year, but we were blessed by having fifteen participants. There was a large age range in the campers, from 10 to 18 years. The day camp met in the mornings, had lunch together, and continued into the afternoons. One overnight was held in the cabins for the older campers.
Camp Safari youth on a nature hike
Each camper experienced unconditional love and acceptance by all the caring volunteers and leaders. Campers hiked, swam, laughed, sang, and did all the things expected at camp. The exciting activities of clowning around, making kazoos from detergent jugs, to interactive Bible stories, a talent showcase, and closing campfire brought everyone in the camp close together in the family of God.
The campers came as strangers, but left as friends. They knew they were accepted and celebrated for who they were. Such joy that abounded throughout this camping experience was wonderful to witness. As the campers departed the last day, loaded down with their backpacks, crafts, and memories, they kept calling to each other, "See you next year!" Plans are already being made to see them next year at Camp Safari!
Karen Dillon is Director of Camping and Retreats for the Southern Ohio District Church of the Brethren.