Recently new campers, Caleb and Jaxon Hansel returned from the “Hearts on Fire” Summer Camp week with big smiles and full hearts. These boys continued the tradition of attending Camp Gilmont started by their great grandmother, Mary Fields, over 40 years ago. Mary served as Administrative Assistant and member of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in those days. Harry Meissner, her pastor, recruited Mary to be part of the team of volunteer counselors who spent a week each summer making sure Grace Presbytery kids could enjoy God’s creation in a Christian Camping setting. In those days, campers and counselors slept in the unairconditioned hogans and cooked two meals over a fire each day, including peach cobbler buried in the ashes in a dutch oven.
In the early 2000’s Mary made sure her granddaughter, Kristen Hansel went to Kidquakes, YouthQuakes, and Summer camp. Kristen has fond memories of camp and Co-Executive Director, Kenny Rigoulot was even her counselor one summer when she participated in Prairie Valley Canoe Camp. Kristen developed a love for being on the water that summer. She kayaks as often as possible and now her whole family kayaks together too.
This summer Kristen signed up her sons for their first camp experience at Gilmont. At the end of the week, Mary rode with Kristen to pick up her great-grandsons. Mary brought along her 40+ year old Gilmont Program Center T-shirt, and the family posed for a photo in front of the Gilmont sign before heading home. The boys talked about swimming, winning at GaGa Ball, doing sling shots, and making friends. Jaxon learned from Mary that his counselor Rose Rogers is the niece of Steve Heizer. Rose’s Uncle Steve was a camper when Mary first started volunteering as a counselor. When he was old enough, he became Mary’s co-counselor in 1982!
Now, Jaxon and Caleb are already making plans to return. Time in God’s creation, living in community, learning and playing, and sharing common experiences around faith is one way for “Hearts on Fire.”
What stories do you have to share about connections through the generations to Gilmont?
Submitted by Miatta Wilson – Gilmont Energizer, Friend of Mary Fields, and Christian Educator at Eastminster Presbyterian while Kristen was growing up.