The Church camp, eight miles east of Parish, N.Y., has become a meaningful spiritual sanctuary for God’s people, especially during the summer months. The 135 acres of woods, fields, and waterfront enable brethren to get their families away from the city when school is not in session. Some families live “up at camp” for the summer, some spend a few weeks, and many take day trips. No matter how long the duration, the fellowship is always edifying.
The camp program includes plenty for young, old, married, or single: summer-long children’s activities, Red Cross swimming lessons, Day Camp activities for the younger kids, wilderness excursions, sporting events, Church picnics, and occasionally, a bake-off, an auction, or even a talent show. Whatever the occasion, the Living Word Camp provides a safe and fun-filled refuge from the everyday difficulties and trials that go on in everyday life, as scores of volunteers give of their time, talents, and other resources to provide for these extensive programs. During the month of August, week-long camp meetings (aka “Tent Meetings”) are held under the camp pavilion. This has been a very instrumental time to seek the Lord and get renewed in one’s spirit. Traditionally, many young people have received salvation or have been filled with the Holy Spirit for the first time at these meetings.
Pastor Bryan Rocine expresses a common sentiment: “We thank the Lord for our renovated recreation hall, our kitchen, our shower, and sanitation facilities, the 80-plus camper trailer sites complete with electrical and water hook-ups, our barn, lean-tos, athletic facilities, and supervised waterfront. Most of all, we thank the Lord for the people who make camp such a blessing.”
The essence of the family camping experience can be likened to the Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles. In the Law of Moses, the Lord decreed that an annual festival would be observed during which, for seven days, the Israelites would move out of their houses and live in “booths” or huts made from tree boughs (Leviticus 23:34-43). It was to be a joyful time when people would put aside the cares of the world and focus on the Lord while sharing in fellowship and in the fruits of the harvest… and remind their children of how their forefathers dwelt in temporary abodes when the Lord God first brought them out of Egypt.
How striking the principle of the Feast of Tabernacles is in our own hectic, fast-paced world! The patriarch Abraham and those with him “…confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). The children of God are no different today since we are all just “passin’ through”, a point brought to remembrance by giving up some of the comforts of home and sleeping out in a tent, cabin, RV trailer, or camper.
A refreshing swim in Coan Pond is a welcome relief to the hot, humid Central New York summers. What youngster doesn’t love to spend hours playing in and around the water? To encourage swimming skills and the knowledge and practice of safe habits around the water, a full range of Red Cross Swimming and Water Safety courses are offered during a three-week period each summer. Brothers and sisters in Christ who are professionally trained and certified instructors demonstrate the love of God to youth and adults along with rhythmic breathing, the breaststroke, and the flutter kick. In addition to classes, many hours of open swimming are provided each day as qualified lifeguards volunteer their time on a regular schedule. A sandy area for children, main dock, floating raft, and three swimming areas safely accommodate all ages and abilities. Near the swimming dock, rowboats and canoes can be launched. The waterfront staff enforces rules and procedures to assure safety as well as pleasure at this very popular and busy place at Living Word Camp.
In 1991, Bro. Garry Maderi initially organized the children’s day activities program at camp to run for a couple weeks out of the summer season, which proved to be a smashing success, right from the first day. This program consists of scheduled activities that are run by high school students from the Academy and adult Church members who volunteer their time to ensure that the children have fun. Activities generally include athletic programs, sports clinics in volleyball and basketball, Arts and Crafts projects, games, swimming, and nature lessons.
Activity leaders may even decide to share their hobbies, skills, and interests such as learning camping skills, performing a skit, or even having a tea party for the younger children. On occasion, there are field trips departing from the campgrounds and even organized camp sleepovers. In all activities, the principles of Christ are taught and modeled to help keep the young people on the mark spiritually through the summer, a season when youth can sometimes struggle in their walk with the Lord. Bro. Maderi notes one of the benefits of the activities program is the opportunity for teenagers in the Church to get involved with the younger children and learn responsibility through serving as activity leaders, helpers, and event coordinators.
Recreational and competitive sporting opportunities abound at Living Word Camp. Whether throwing frisbee or “digging” for a “spike” in a volleyball tournament, health and fitness, fun and fellowship are primary, and friendship in Jesus Christ is the name of the game. Besides the waterfront, there is an athletic field with a softball diamond, soccer goals, and sand volleyball courts. Near the recreation hall is an outdoor basketball court. For the little tykes, slides, a playground and other equipment, and the woods and fields themselves provide a playground guaranteed to tire the most energetic. In wintertime, the mammoth Oswego County snowfall makes for great cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and other pursuits for the more “icelandish” among the brethren.
Any operation the size of Living Word Camp needs rules and regulations to keep everything running smoothly and to ensure physical and spiritual safety. Please refer to the latest edition of the Camp Rules and Regulations, for more information on fishing, fires, use of facilities, curfew, overnight regulations, and other subjects. It is the responsibility of the Camp user to know and follow all rules governing any activity in which he or she is involved.