A New Thing

Reflection from Associate Director of Outdoor Ministries Rev. Mollie Landers

I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

~Isaiah 43:19

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

~2 Corinthians 5:17

Happy 2013!  With a New Year, we talk about new year resolutions, a fresh start.  In my home state of Pennsylvania, we eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s day, to cleanse our system (sauerkraut) and to get ahead in the new year (pork).  This tradition is to set us ahead and give us a fresh start for the new year, to make room for doing something new.  We just came out of the season of Christmastide, and celebrate the new thing God does in the incarnation of Jesus.  And somewhere, below the snow and soil, plants, grass, and flowers are waiting for their chance to become new, to co-create a new spring creation.  Newness and freshness is part of the our life cycle.

Doing a new thing, or becoming new, usually means that something has to pass away, such as the leaves or flowers from last year.  Or a past resolution that just didn’t work the way we hoped.  So we try something new, something different.

The summer of 2012 brought a fallow year at Horton Center when, through a difficult, well thought out decision, we decided to not have camp in 2012.  This was in order to get a thorough understanding of Horton Center, its attributes which are vital and still  working, and the aspects that are no longer viable and need to change.

In just a month, registration for the 2013 summer of Horton Center will open.  It will bring familiar experiences on Pine Mountain, enhanced as we move toward American Camp Association standards.  This will tighten up our policies, procedures, and make sure we are at top notch camp standards concerning everything from safety, to programing, to our facilities.  There are parts of camp that will look and sound different, and new.

One of the best new parts is a new program model called Dean and Counselor.  In this new model, “Deans,” (usually two Co-Deans) who are volunteers (asked by the OMB) from local New Hampshire UCC churches, help oversee the program for a week of camp.  Deans, with the training of the Director, Associate Director, and the OMB, plan their session of camp. They will coordinate specific and specialized programming with the summer staff following the curriculum created by the National Council of Churches. While at camp, they are supported by the paid summer staff.  Deans recruit volunteer counselors, who offer a week of their time to help campers have a safe, fun week.  The volunteer counselors bring their gifts and talents, and are also screened and trained.  The Deans, counselors, paid summer staff, Director, Associate Director, and OMB work together for one purpose – the wellbeing of the camper; to make the campers experience safe, fun, and filled with spiritual and emotional growth.  Because, camp is for the camper!  The new model will enable a connection (or renewed connection) with local churches, as Deans will be from New Hampshire Conference UCC churches.  We will encourage counselors to be from UCC churches as well, but also acknowledge there are many wonderful counselors who may not be affiliated with a UCC church.

Counselors and Deans differ from unit leaders, but will still be cabin counselors.  Horton Center will always be a place that many people from the same church can come to and experience the Holy One but bringing a whole unit from one congregation was getting more difficult to do.  Because one of Horton Center’s core purposes is to build community, we will arrange cabins (and their counselors) so that campers from different towns all across New Hampshire will get to know one another.  This means a counselor from Amherst may be in a cabin with campers from Hooksett, North Conway, Laconia, Keene, Swanzey, and Lebanon.  We also recognize coming to camp for the first time can be full of nervousness.  Therefore, elementary and middler campers can request to be in the same cabin as one and only one friend on the registration form.  The friend you request must also request you.  Requesting bunkmates is not available for Senior High campers.  If you come to camp with a group of friends from your home church, you will still have plenty of time during hikes, swim excursions, worship services, faith discovery groups, rock climbing, and compound time to hang out, and introduce them to your new friends from across the state.

Over the coming months, Bryan, Jonathan (our OMB chair), and I will be writing of the growth, changes, and opportunities coming to Horton Center. Check back often!

Doing a new thing is scary and exciting, and often takes time. Won’t you join us this summer at Horton Center where we can marvel and explore together as God is making all things new?

Peace and blessings,

Rev. Mollie Landers
Associate Director of Outdoor Ministries, New Hampshire and Maine Conferences, UCC