1) Looking at your committee description in the BYM Manual of Procedure: What is the most meaningful, enduring or vital part of your committee’s charge?
The Committee serves BYM by connecting and communicating among the different groups of people who are involved in ensuring that the camping program provides our children and others who attend with a safe, healthy, fun, and spirit-nurturing community that supports Quaker values.
Where is the energy, the Spirit, in [this work]?
The energy and passion of the camps passes from the campers and counselors to their parents and back into their home meetings and out beyond – some of the parents and meeting members then volunteer at camp, and/or join the Committee to share and route this exuberance into service to keep the program running during the remainder of the year when the camps are not in session. In addition, the camps honor the spiritual growth that comes from a deep connection within the natural world, which leads to individual inner and outer enrichment and resourcefulness.
2) How does the Committee seek to accomplish this vital work?
The committee and the Camp Program Secretary, Jane Megginson, have an established cycle of activities during the off-season that guides the Committee members in setting objectives for each session – currently the Committee has set up subcommittees to address each of the most pressing concerns. The Committee seeks to support the directors of the 4 camps so that they can run the camps in a spiritual manner.
Members serve for 3-year terms, ensuring time to learn the annual cycle that anchors the Committee activities and to provide continuity in making program recommendations. After two three-year terms, members must take a leave of at least one year before re-joining – this makes room for new members.
Examples of current sub-committees:
- a bike trip committee to set up a new TA trip for 2011 to handle expected increase in teen camper enrollments (and to prevent repetition of the very difficult situation about 4 years ago when the program had to turn away campers for lack of resources),
- a marketing committee to reach out to more meeting families to recruit campers to Shiloh and Opequon, both of which need more campers to continue to be viable longer term,
- a cookbook committee to create a cookbook to raise funds and help build a “one-camp” identity with recipes contributed from all camps,
- a finance committee to track year-to-year expenses, with an eye out for unexpected costs as well as future budgets that may include new investments or program initiatives, and
- camp-specific committees to address concerns that relate primarily to one camp or that arise in the annual camp evaluations that are collected each fall.
What vision does this move us toward?
Our vision is of a sustainable camping program which strengthens the experience of community and Quaker values, brings our meetings together via their children and that adapts as needed to new community needs.
3) What can we do best at this level (i.e., by the Committee for the BYM level), rather than at our monthly meetings or through national or international organizations?
The CPC addresses a lot of “off season” tasks that need to be attended to, as well as longer term planning that directors are less able to be directly involved in. The Committee works to keep our campers coming back to camp, to build and maintain friendships, to learn about other meetings, and to encourage families to see the camps as one of BYM’s most central and vital assets.
4) How does the work of your Committee enrich, influence, or change Baltimore Yearly Meeting as a whole? Where do you see that work taking us as a Yearly Meeting?
The Committee supports the camping program that nurtures a BYM-wide community, connecting members through its children. The families with kids who participate in the camping program understand these connections, that “BYM is us.” Committee members who talk with campers’ parents hear from families that their children’s Quaker identity is formed or reinforced at camp — so it is not just social networks that are built at camp, but also deeper spiritual growth with the potential for a longer-term, vibrant outreach and stable connection to BYM. Many campers that come from Meetings in BYM get to experience, possibly for the first time, the idea that Quakers exist beyond their own Monthly Meeting.
Camp often serves as a family’s first experience with a program of the Yearly Meeting which may serve as an entrée into wider participation in Yearly Meeting activities. We know from anecdotal evidence that many campers and camper families become Quakers through their connection to camp. Campers come home from camp and ask to go to Meeting, often bringing their families with them. As part of the mission of camp, we teach children and young adults to tap into their own inner spiritual resources.
We purposefully grow leaders in our camps who then go out into the world and bring the skills that they have learned at camp to all of their endeavors. We hear from Quaker Colleges and Schools what a rich resource the participants from our camps are at their institutions. We teach the values of participating in community and serving others. This work enriches the Yearly Meeting by raising young people who have leadership skills, spiritual connections to the community and their environment, and have a better understanding of Quakerism and living in a Quaker Community.