Every summer, near the end of July, Moravians from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois gather to share one week as one community in the deep hills of Tar Hollow, one of Ohio’s State Parks. Here, campers from grades 7 through age 21 spend a week in nature experiencing good old-fashioned camping, which includes program, activities, campfires, swimming and everything else you can imagine a week of camp consists of.
Last July, Tar Hollow was led on a “Soul Safari” where campers learned how they can make God part of their lives everyday, and that he will always be with them every step of the way.
Each day, campers were given prayer ribbons upon which they wrote prayers for themselves, or for other people or places, and tied them to a large rope-threaded frame resembling an enormous spider web. As the week progressed, the large web filled with prayers and showed campers that God hears every prayer that we send his way and catches them in his web.
Campers also shared a Lovefeast one evening, but it was by no means a traditional Lovefeast. Sticking with the Safari theme, campers and staff shared a meal consisting of zebra cakes and juice and were taught the phrase, “Asante Mungu,” which is Swahili for, “Thank you, God” This simple phrase, “Asante Mungu,” was used many times throughout the week as campers were reminded that we should thank God for all of the blessings in our lives, and to also thank one another for helping each other along our journeys.
Another part of the Lovefeast was a comparison of Christians to zebras. Small groups were tasked with making an acrostic poem out of the word “zebra” or “Asante” using words or phrases that define what it means to be a Christ-follower. Through this exercise, campers learned that, like zebras, Christians band together to promote one another and to serve each other and God as a community.
On Wednesday night of camp, the Regional Youth Council hosted a Safari-themed mission dinner to raise funds to support the Adopt-a-Village project and an anti-poaching clinic in Africa. The RYC served the meal while campers and staff purchased tickets for the silent auction featuring original artworks and other prizes. The whole evening was fruitful in both community and mission as the camp collected over $2,000.
The Soul Safari continued well into the week as each and every camper dug deeper and deeper into his or her own personal journey with God, learning to shine God’s light through all that we do. As the week came to an end, the campers went out into the world with renewed spirits and healthier hearts to serve God.
Camp Tar Hollow is very special to the Mid-States region. It is the place we like to call home once a year, and we have been doing so for the past 68 years. Every Saturday of camp, as campers prepare to go their separate ways, we say, “Asante Mungu” (Thank You, God) for bringing us together again and we look forward to the next summer when God will bless us again.
Joe Compton, a member at First Moravian Church of Dover, Ohio, wrote this for us following the 2016 camping season. Photos by Lynn Reichman of Sharon Moravian Church in Tuscawaras, Ohio.