What Makes Time at Camp So Special?
I have been spending a lot of time lately reflecting on what it is that makes the “Camp” experience so special. I keep coming back to the same conclusion. The “stuff” of camp that we call program, the canoeing, ropes courses, bushwalks etc. etc. are vital and should always be loads of fun, but for me (and I expect many of our campers) at the heart of the camp experience is the sharing of community. The opportunities to connect with others and share the fellowship this brings. No more is this captured than when campers gather at meal times. On camp meals are not merely a necessary function to fuel the hungry hoards, meal times are critical times for a pause, some reflection, much sharing and perhaps a window into what life may be like beyond the camp environment.
Recently, as I was hurriedly packing to head to Sydney for the ICDC Course I stumbled across Christopher Gleeson’s book “A Canopy of Stars” and in it found this poem.
The Kitchen Table
By Elsie Voon, 27th June, 2009
There are lots of things wrong with Australia today,
And I’d like to have something to say if I may.
You know that, forsooth, our problem with youth,
Untidy, ill-mannered, untamed and uncouth,
Is the fact that their home life is so often unstable
And it’s all for the lack of a kitchen table.
Remember how once we would sit down as one,
And Dad would say grace when the carving was done.
Our own serviettes from our own special rings,
And we all knew our manners and etiquette things.
Then our elders would tell us of custom and fable,
When we all sat about at our kitchen table.
Now they’re building new mansions with four-car garages.
Our working lives mortgaged to interest and charges.
There’s less time at home for the tea to be made,
And it’s seldom today that a table is laid.
There’s room after room under gable and gable,
But there’s not enough room for a kitchen table.
At weekends the parents are chauffeurs unpaid,
No wonder they’re tired and their tempers are frayed.
As they ferry their broods to arenas of sport,
Where the culture of winning’s intensively taught,
And there’s more on the telly both free and by cable,
So there’s no room for talk around the kitchen table.
Karl Marx called religion the drug of the people,
But there’s scant regard now for the church or the steeple,
Just give ‘em more sport and don’t let ‘em think,
And keep them away from the kitchen sink.
We’ll give ‘em more sport and the culture of Babel,
The throwaway culture that threw out the table.
With the culture of rap and their baseball caps,
There’ll soon be no fellers, no blokes and no chaps.
When they all dress the same then it’s little surprise
That the girls swear as much and as foul as the guys.
So we grandparents must, just as long as we’re able,
Keep our culture alive around the kitchen table.
Quoted in Christopher Gleeson SJ, A Canopy of Stars; some reflections for the journey, David Lovell Publishing, 2003, p 19