by Counselor Bailey Page
For where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them. Matthew 18:20
There is something special about this place. And it seems to know it. In the gentle back and forth of the falling leaves. In the rippling of water as the lake comes to life. In the shade cast by the trees like fishers nets. In the cascading hills and the songs they sing. In the triumph of the mountain tops standing over all of it.
But it is not a knowledge that comes with pride: pride is all too often an emotion of bettering. No, it is joy that echoes here. The air tastes of it and it spills forth from the ground. And that is precisely what it is, an echo, for any place, is only what it is by those that it stands in community with. Gilmont is a place of community, where we consciously understand God as the foundation of relationships with each other and each other as the foundations of a relationship with God. It is the people that make Gilmont what it is.
Every conversation I have had with campers and staff alike about favorite memories from camp is centered on the people who were present and the relationships that were formed. The things people remember are not hitting the bullseye at archery or playing a cool new game. What they remember is the people who were present and the love that was shared.
This year our staff developed the conscious goal to bring God back into the things we do here. Not that God has not been here the whole time, it is just that many of things we do were missing that deliberate connection. Every single member of staff has fully committed to making Gilmont a place of God’s love for everyone involved, and that has completed molded the relationships we have with each other.
I had the privilege of working with our interns for the first two sessions. One of our goals for the intern program this year was to shift the focus from learning how to work with campers to learning life and leadership skills that would help them beyond just the week they were about to spend in cabins. We spent a lot of the week talking about what it means to be a leader “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity,” using 1 Timothy 4:12 as our focus. Building on that, we worked on building better understandings of ourselves which enables them to be better leaders and servants in all areas of their life. It was beautiful to watch them come to this place year after year where they can escape from their problems and come together in a community of God’s love. Their lives have been changed by this place.
I spent a week with Adventure campers. Honestly, I had some worries going in, mostly that I had no idea what I was doing, but it ended up being a fantastic week of camp complete with some crazy shelters in the woods, some ridiculous camo, and even a song about watermelon. But the best part was the campers I had. Five of them have been in my group for the past two years as well and it was a great experience to have them again and see how much they have grown up. They show a maturity far beyond their years, so much so that I often forget that they are only thirteen. One night I got into a conversation with them about what makes Gilmont special and each of them described in detail the experiences they have had here being part of a community of God’s love and they all said that these past few years have been the best yet.
Camp Gilmont is truly a special place. The community here is beyond what can be expressed with words. For me, it is best captured by Ephesians 3:20, which reads: “Now to the one who can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.” What happens here at Gilmont goes beyond what we can ask or imagine, God is at work here and lives are changed by the community God has helped us build here. I was recently introduced to the idea of the butterfly effect, which suggests that something as simple as a butterfly flapping its wings can cause a storm on the other side of the world. The idea is that something very small can have huge effects down the line. The reason I have chosen to call this blog post “The Gilmont Effect” is because of what this place does.
Gilmont is not a large place and the community of people with immediate experience here is tiny compared to the communities built elsewhere. But here at Gilmont lives are changed and when a life is changed that person does not just go back to the way they were before as soon as they leave. They leave as a different person and every community they are a part of is shaped by the changes in them. The fact is, the community of people affected by this place extends far beyond only the people who have been here. The Gilmont Effect is a real thing. I know my life has been changed by this place. I know campers whose lives have been changed by this place. I know staff and volunteers who have been changed by this place. And I know people who have never set foot at Gilmont whose lives have changed because of what happens here. Camp Gilmont is not the cool things we have, the fun things we do, or even the place itself. Camp Gilmont is the community of God’s love that exists here; a community that every staff member, every camper, and every person ever touched by the Gilmont Effect is a part of.
Guest Blog by Esther Thomas, Camp Counselor
I’m not that great with words so bear with me, and my awkward wording as I try to convey my thoughts about this incredible summer.
When I walked out of my interview in January, had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought spending my summer as a counselor was going to be chill. I’d just spend my time loving on kids, teaching them about God, and then kinda just go on with life...I was so wrong.
I learned more about the importance of community and love this summer than I think I have anywhere else. I was amazed by the limitless amount of love I experienced from the awesome people I was able to work with, the volunteers, spiritual advisers, and basically anyone who entered Gilmont’s gates.
Although I was presented with many challenges this summer, I never went through a day without experiencing God’s love from the community at Gilmont. At the beginning of the summer when someone told me Gilmont is this magical place where God’s love is everywhere I was like lol, ok, sure....But, as my time there this summer came to an end, I can say that Gilmont’s magic is indeed real. Thank you for giving me a summer I’ll never forget. @ Camp Gilmont #mygilmontexperience