The highlight of my kids’ summer is the Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. Forty teenaged musicians and a half dozen staff members live in residence at Conrad Grebel College for two weeks every August. Campers attend master classes for their instrument of choice, and work together to present a scaled down Broadway musical for family and friends on the final night.
Each camper is part of a small group that meets daily for devotions, and conversation. There is great food in generous quantities. There are games, and mysterious traditions, and late night escapades in an atmosphere of generous, good-hearted fun. For the other 50 weeks of the year, campers talk, and text with new friends who share their love of music.
This week I am at “Beyond Walls,” offered by Kenyon College. The campus is in the tree-lined village of Gambier, Ohio, where the bookstore rents bicycles, walking is encouraged, and the speed limit is 25 mph. There are 84 of us clergy-types: rabbis, pastors, and priests representing a mixed bag of denominations. We came from several countries, and many American states, attracted by a shared desire to write about spiritual life. Most of us produce weekly sermons, but would love to move creatively beyond the walls of the worship service.
We are living in apartment-style residences, and being fed well in a beautiful dining room. Our days begin and end with meditation and worship. Our teachers are bloggers, op-ed writers, poets and novelists. We compare notes in small groups as we take on writing challenges.
It is invigorating to meet people with similar passions. It is a blessing to leave behind everyday occupations of work and home, and put time and energy into writing.
This is my summer camp. What would yours look like?