This week, I was helping out as "Spiritual Director" at the 5th/6th Grade family camp out at Thunderhead Episcopal Camp in the beautiful Black Hills, South Dakota.
I took a few pictures of the grounds. It truly is a great place. I applaud the Diocese of South Dakota for keeping the camp. It was trendy in the last 20 years for dioceses to sell off youth camps because of funding issues. Many of those dioceses now regret those decisions when they realized after the fact that selling off youth camps cut off youth evangelism efforts at the knees.
We had some very great discussions with a closing Eucharist. With staff and campers and visiting families, there was probably about 50 people or more, up from last year.
One of the truly neat things about the Diocese of South Dakota is that is was founded as a missionary diocese. To this day, probably around half of all Episcopalians in South Dakota are Lakota Native Americans. The Episcopal Church talks a good talk about diversity, but there actually is diversity here.
I include the last photograph to drive home this point. More than half the campers at this particular camp were Lakota. Last summer, my wife and I both helped out at this same youth camp. My wife made pillow cases by hand for all the campers. A few of the pillow cases came back this year, apparently well loved. I took this last photograph, where you can see one of those pillowcases. It returned, not because it was some nostalgic camp gift, but because it was the only pillowcase this one camper owned.
Thunderhead Episcopal Camp does some real good among some really needy kids; kids that would never have a chance to get off the reservation during the summer otherwise. Some people on other blogs love to harangue about the Episcopal Church's issues. Yes, we have our issues, as most church denominations do. But what we do that is good, we do by the grace of God because God has put us into a position to be able to minister to some groups of people that no one else can reach.
God bless the campers, counselors, and staff at Thunderhead Episcopal Camp. May it continue to bless all those who spent time there for many years to come.