The EDGE of Hiawassee
After a long drive from Washington, D.C. to Hiawassee, GA we thought we had found our next destination. We pulled through a narrow lane and passed an abandoned ranger's booth. As we began to cross a plank bridge we really hoped that we were in the right spot and that we would not have to back our way out. Just as we weave around the bend we see a huge "Fearless" sign for the LiFE TEEN sponsored EDGE camp of Hiawassee. We pulled up to the lodge to check in, but before we exited the van there was a whole crew of camp volunteers running and chanting and cheering for our arrival. We were greeted with hugs and shown our parking spot - FULL RV HOOK-UPS! This was a welcome surprise after the week of battling our power supply in D.C.
We had almost 24 hours to settle in since campers did not arrive until Monday afternoon. The staff had their routine of adoration, prayer, Mass, and a family-style meal on their day off, all of which they invited us to join. The old RV park had been converted to accommodate 180 junior high teens each week. It had 2 playgrounds, 3 trampolines, and a gaga ball pit amid the nature preserve which also hosted 4 natural waterfalls and a creek that ran the length of camp.
We immediately felt at home. Michael and I have worked in LIFE TEEN ministry for most of our adult life. We were refreshed by the focus on Eucharist and the availability of sacraments and the staff who were "on" at all times. Our kids jumped right in to enjoying the benefits of being in the wilderness after having been in touristy city life a lot of the summer. The found a rope that swung out over the water & played in the creek most of the time. They had the ability to run a bit more freely than before. Once the campers arrived, Trinity tried to reign as queen of the gaga pit. Charity followed closely in her footsteps. Gabriella ran with a group of 4 boys all week. MJMJ and Cecilia had their own crew of jr. high girls that followed them around because the were "so adorable."
Michael worked his tail off. The schedule was intense, as it ran from 6:30 in the morning until 10 PM. He is an introvert by nature, so it is a stretch for him to be available so many hours of the day. He is not a big nature-lover or natural camper, so the mess of summer camp and junior high fun was a stretch for him. BUT... in some way... camp still managed to be refreshing. He was exhausted, but satisfied. The staff was truly amazing and inspiring. Their attitudes and enthusiasm challenged us to push ourselves outside of our natural tendencies - to grow in love and to grow in holiness, to give more of ourselves that we had thought to give before. I guess that is what ministry is all about. Hats off the LIFE TEEN, you are doing great things.