A family camp night hike was a first for me. I’ve done a bunch with young people and adults but never a group with this wide of an age mix. It turned out to be a real hoot!
Hiking in the dark makes people chatty. The younger kids were all verbally transparent and very animated, speaking as if no else was around to hear their commentary. When doing an activity demonstrating our night vision capabilities, I was amused by spontaneous responses. Circled up, the group watches the head of the person across from them. “His head disappeared”, came the exclamation, “it’s gone black!” Our eyes see color to the center and black and white on the periphery. The amazement began and we were off to an energetic start. Another teachable moment for a marvelous creator.
Leaving the woods and entering a clearing, I stopped the group to circle up, explaining that this would be a good spot to do my Barred Owl call and perhaps even see one. Its rare, but the ultimate experience when it happens. There’s always a good chance I’ll get one to call back.
After a half dozen or more Barred Owl Calls and no response we took some time to do some star constellations. About fifteen minutes past by and suddenly the void of the night darkness was filled with that throaty baritone return call. We heard it 3-4 times. It was too good to be someone’s imitation. Then the magic occurred and out of the darkness the owl flew its silhouette across a dimly moon lit sky. AWEsome! A definite O WOW experience that needed no interpretation.It was another unforgettable memory to instill the creative delight of the Almighty creator.
It takes a commitment to keep camp and group size manageable for these kinds of memories to happen. It takes takes commitment and planning to preserved outdoor areas for these kinds of encounters to focus on Christ the Creator. A commitment to outdoor nature programming is needs to be desired too.
For my tastes, camps tend to grow and become little amusement parks. They develop outdoor areas needed to make teaching the testimony of the creator possible and replace it with artificial fun. Outdoor programming also has the added advantage of including strength of relationship in teaching and experience. Superslides are fun, but the common experience of shared discovery creates lasting impressions and memorable learning.
I love ministry outdoors in a the natural world. Lets work to preserve and keep these O WOW learning opportunities available.