We were lucky to welcome the Sixth Rainbow Camp to DuBois Center on Saturday, August 7. From activities like horseback riding, archery, crafting and canoeing to conversations at a shared table, more than 40 of us enjoyed a day of fellowship, nature, the taste of the first honey from the DuBois Center bees, and camp fun. We look forward to welcoming even more people to Rainbow Camp in 2022 as we continue to draw the circle of God’s love ever wider.
Our Rainbow Camp coincided with our coordinator wrap up of the season, where our summer leadership team comes to debrief and do the manual tasks associated with transitioning from summer to fall. These moments of transition are always bittersweet when you are a year-round camp director. On the one hand, you get to really sleep for the first time in almost three months. On the other, you are saying goodbye (for now) to people who have profoundly impacted you despite only knowing them for a short time. I’d like to share a brief excerpt from our closing circle at Rainbow Camp. While words fail to express my gratitude for your hospitality, I hope you hear it in the spaces between the words.
“One of my favorite things about outdoor ministry is that, over time as you move through a space, it begins to move through you. And so, Rainbow Camp is also the close of our summer season. It’s been 4 months and two days (but who is counting) since I started as Acting Director for Outdoor Ministry. I find it difficult to really put into words the way this space has moved through me this summer. In a large part, I find it difficult because in addition to the beautiful place, it is also these beautiful people who have had this profound impact on me. When you ask an individual to do all the things that are required to reopen a camp, the result is chaos and failure. But when you ask a team to do it? You experience a summer like the one we have had. Sure, things were often haywire; we were understaffed; things could’ve easily fallen apart at any moment; but instead, now we are here, in this beautiful moment, celebrating not only our camp community, but my community as well. I wasn’t sure as an out, loud, queer person what this job might be like, but with a staff like the one we have, who were endlessly supportive and adaptable, even the hardest moments felt joyful, peaceful, important. It is this sort of connectivity and love reflected in my staff that reminds me of the best experiences I have had as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. That moment when everything has fallen apart, but your chosen family picks up the pieces, that’s what camp, and being a queer person, is for me. So, I want to say thank you, whether you’ve shared this space with me for months, or you’ve just been here in this space today. I hope it moved you. I hope it changed you. And I hope you leave feeling a little better than you did when you got here.”
Hayley Elliott, Acting Director of Outdoor Ministry