This line from the Tall Timber Statement of Purpose identifies one important aspect of the powerful impact the camping experience has on the lives of those who visit this beautiful place we call Tall Timber Ranch. I like to think of it as “the witness of creation” to the human spirit. Psalm 19 says:“the heavens are telling the glory of God, and the skies proclaim His handiwork … day after day they pour forth speech and night after night they display knowledge …there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard…”
David’s eloquent words are telling us that there is an even more eloquent voice which tells all people about God’s qualities – the voice of His Creation. The gentleness of a doe with her fawn, the grandeur of mountain peaks, the complexity of ecosystems, the delicate beauty and attention to detail of a tiny wildflower, the life-giving purity of cold clear water, the soothing peace of a quiet cedar grove. The sense of eternity when gazing at star filled heavens without city lights. These powerful moments reach through and soften the human heart to receive God’s message that we are loved, valued and forgiven by someone powerful enough to make a difference in our lives.
These experiences are important for people of all ages, but they are especially crucial for the spiritual and emotional growth of children. Author Richard Louv argues this point convincingly in his recent book Last Child in the Woods (Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder). I highly recommend it for any parent or grandparent. Louv asserts that the Baby Boom generation was the last generation of children allowed to freely “play in the woods” – or the barn, creek, canyon etc. Today’s children are so closely supervised, structured and media saturated, and their environments so modified by human control that they have lost the freedom to play, explore, experiment and wind down in a natural setting. He makes the case powerfully for the benefits of natural places to play on the physical, emotional, social and moral development of children. But in this secular book’s concluding section, he argues for the importance of these opportunities in the child’s spiritual development; “Nature introduces children to the idea – to the knowing – that they are not alone in this world, and that realities and dimensions exist alongside their own.” (pg 290) It is that sense of “knowing” that I observe year after year as kids come to camp. A child’s spiritual awareness is on a deeply visceral and experiential basis. They don’t need to understand it all if they can experience it. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said “unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the Kingdom”.
If you love a child or young person, you are likely overwhelmed with choices about what they should be doing this summer. It seems that everyone has discovered the benefits of a week at camp for their specialty – from sports camps and computer camps to weight loss camps and even “American Idol” camp! But don’t forget the most important reason of all to go to camp - spiritual growth – and the impact of beautiful natural places on that experience. That benefit is eternal, and impacts every other area of your child’s life. And there is no more beautiful place to experience our Lord in the beauty of his Creation than Tall Timber Ranch!
I leave you to reflect on the following quote:
All my life I have heard that God loves me… But this week I really experienced it!
-Tall Timber Camper