In the Dining Hall last Wednesday, July 22nd, the voices of two hundred and fifty or so campers and staff cheered an enthusiastic (and loud) welcome to Bishop Johnson on his first visit to Sheldon Calvary Camp. With a hand painted sign featuring a sunset and the chapel cross, and wearing all the purple clothing they could find, the Calvary Camp community was ready to introduce the bishop to our diocesan camping ministry.
Bishop Johnson brings an understanding and appreciation of Episcopal camps from his deep involvement in the life of Camp Henry at Lake Logan in the Diocese of Western North Carolina. Tim Green, Executive Director of Calvary Camp, enjoyed the opportunity to show the bishop the camp facilities and to have a conversation about the camp’s people, program, and plans. Tim commented: “Bishop Johnson absolutely gets what we are doing. His questions and observations were insightful and helpful.”
Bishop Johnson was instantly at home, meeting campers and staff members and listening to their camp experiences. During the chapel service at the end of the evening, he spoke about the work of a bishop and the signs and symbols of the bishop’s ministry – explaining the crozier he carries and inviting a camper to “pull his chain” to discover his pectoral cross. He spoke about God’s call to each of us, and the possibility that God might call some people from the camp community to serve as deacons, priests, or bishops. He responded with openness and good humor to questions, including “What do you have to do to become a bishop?” and “How do you know if God is calling you?” Campers felt his warmth and care and were impressed by his direct and clear answers to their questions. “He was fun”, they noted, and “He didn’t talk around and around the questions without ever giving an answer.” After giving a final blessing for the chapel service, the Bishop very naturally added the traditional closing announcement: “Lights out in ten minutes.”
The following morning he accepted the invitation of the boys in cabin 6 to eat breakfast at their table. Both he and the camp community ended this visit wishing that the bishop could visit Calvary Camp each week of the summer season, and glad for the chance to share the love of Christ and the joy of camping ministry.
To learn more about Sheldon Calvary Camp visit www.calvarycamp.org
By the Rev. Leslie Reimer
Photos courtesy Alex Eversmeyer