The camp I was scheduled to co-direct this summer would have started this coming Sunday. When we got word that it would be canceled, I grieved the loss hard. It was something I was really looking forward to, my summers never feel complete without a week of camp. Here is my prayer of lament for canceled summer camp, specifically church camp, this year.
God of cabins and campfires,
Be present with us as we grieve
summer camp memories left unmade.
Meet us in our longing
for the sacred time and space that is church camp.
We know why this loss is necessary
but we still feel the absence,
the glaring gap in our summer schedule.
This year you are God of empty suitcases,
vacant cabins, and spotless bathhouses.
We lament the conversations we won't have
the crafts we won't complete
the games we won't play
the traditions we won't get to share,
the rituals we won't experience.
I especially mourn [enter your own prayers here]
the nightly lullabies we won't sing,
the campers I won't meet,
the new camp partnership we were going to begin,
working alongside colleagues I admire and trust,
the small group revelations that won't be shared,
and the worship services we would have had.
We pray for camp staff, directors, counselors,
for cooks, lifeguards, nurses,
for maintenance and facility workers
who wonder what will happen next,
and pray for campers to return.
We pray for the campers who were coming for the first time,
and the seniors who were coming for the last time.
We pray for the ones who long for the week away
and the ones who are always homesick.
We pray for all the campers;
may they find their way back.
We give to you O God,
the future of our camp(s),
and our campers - past, present, and future,
trusting that we will gather again.
Our fire pits will burn marshmallows
and hear the imperfect harmony of our songs again.
Our cabins will be filled with laughter,
highs and lows, and bedtime stories again.
Our worship spaces will be filled with prayer,
scripture, and nervous campers again.
The wonder that is camp
may shift and change, as it always has,
but we pray the transforming relationships
and hard to replicate experience that is camp
will find its way back into our lives next summer.