In the moment, you would have been tempted to say that we didn't know what we were doing. Or at the very least, you would have said we didn't think this through. It was the last night of a week of camp, and while it had rained a couple times during the week, it looked like the weather was going to allow us to do our normal Thursday night worship service at the fire circle by the lake. It's an incredible spot for a closing night of worship, but a sudden patch of rain made us adjust our plans just an hour or so before worship started. We decided to move it to the Chapel, but to sit everyone in a circle around one of those garden fire pits and only light the space with that fire and candles. It seemed like a great idea.
Remember how it rained a couple of times during that week? I didn't. The rain had made all the wood wet, and wet wood equals smoke. The Chapel doesn't have any ventilation through the roof, which means all the smoke (so much smoke) from this fire built up around the top of the Chapel and could only escape through the sides of the structure. We sang a few songs, and then I got up to give the message for the evening. I started with "Welcome to the NaCoMe Smokehouse," because the only thing we could do at this point was to laugh about it.
And then I saw a camper at a local church last fall and as we were talking about her week of camp, she asked if I remembered the NaCoMe Smokehouse. How could I forget? I felt like I had completely missed the target on one of the most important pieces of the camp experience. Not for this camper. Instead of the smoke clouding her experience, she had a crystal clear memory of worshipping with her new friends and reflecting on her week at camp. It's an amazing reminder about how the power of camp can work through any situation, and overcome any obstacle - especially when some things fall apart.
I hope I'll see your child around a fire circle this summer, preferably one where the smoke can drift peacefully up into the night air. But if not, I know they'll still have an amazing week with us.
-Ryan "Flash" Moore, Director