Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Camp Buffalo

The best summer of my young life was with the Boy Scouts at Camp Buffalo (near Indiana Beach) between my Sophomore and Junior years. Did lots of cool things there that made my heart go wild: one match fires, mountain biking, rock climbing, and built an "ewok" villiage using these amazingly complex knots and 'lashings'. My formal role was that of chaplain... When hired I thought I was getting a cool summer job where I'd get to work on my preaching/teaching skills. I could apply the knowledge I just gained in the spring from Jones' "Youth Ministry" and Sanders' "Systematic II" classes. What I ended up getting was a good lesson on inter-religious dialogue, religious pluralism, and a glimpse of being a military chaplain.

When I was hired I clarified with the Scout Master that I was a Christian, and I would be able to "preach Christ." He confirmed this. However, not more than a week in, this swiftly changed, and I would not be allowed to mention Jesus during the Vespers service except within ancedotes without particular Christian value. So each week I struggled to craft Vesper services that spoke to boys of all faiths. I also offered a Wednesday Bible study for the Christians. And along the way got into some great conversations with Fundamentalist Christians, Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, and Atheists. Going into that summer I was a proud "Soldier of Christ," but coming out I was humbled- I wanted something more poetic here but no other word can describe it better. This was a big moment that helps me identify with Jonny's post.

All this is to say that religious dialogue is tough stuff, and being a chaplain isn't easy. At times I felt my silence on Christ was a betrayal of my faith.

Today, "Christendom" is still alive in my heart at times, so unfortunately I can relate a bit (only a bit- I mean I was just a Boy Scout Chaplain) to the following articles.

Cardinal George (ArchBishop of Chicago)
Air Force Chaplains


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