Lessons from Good Earth Village

“If you look the right way, you can see the whole world is a garden.”

~Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden~

Some of you know that I have spent my past few summers working at Good Earth Village, a beautiful community of outdoor ministry near Spring Valley, MN. This community consists of people living and learning together within the greater context of creation. We eat together, play together, study the Bible together, sing together, pray together, live simply together. Life is so vibrant here!

"Three Crosses" offers one of the most breath taking views of the valley at Good Earth Village.

“Three Crosses” offers one of the most breath taking views of the valley at Good Earth Village.

I’ve worked as a camp counselor, health officer, and the “Outdoor Adventure Specialist” (yes, that actually is my new job title!) When

I tell people about what I have experienced the last two summers and these first few weeks of this season, I’m usually told how much good I must be doing for the campers I serve. However, I really want to share how this place has served me in surprising ways.

I have delved into my roots here. I have explored  my Lutheran Christian roots through scripture and relationship with others. I’ve explored my Southern Minnesota cultural roots – I grew up in the suburbs of St. Paul/Minneapolis, but most of my family hails from towns along I-90 with populations of less than 500 people (I just went to a family reunion in Canton and it was quite the adventure.) I have explored my own childhood  by reflecting on my campers’ life experiences, and then finding the strength to rebuild relationships with the adults who have invested in me. I have have explored the values that root my vocation as a teacher.  I have explored my roots as a homo sapien with raw physical, spiritual, emotional, and social needs that are met through our camp experiences – breezes, creek water, trees, laughter, smiles, food cooked over a fire, dancing, pumping adrenaline, and curiosity all come together to make me feel alive and whole.

Kyle, Jacob and I doing the Super Oreo challenge!

Kyle, Jacob and I doing the Super Oreo challenge! We needed to get the Oreos from our foreheads into our mouths by only using our facial muscles…this gets really interesting.

As I mentally prepare myself for my UK adventure ahead, I’m finding that the lessons I have learned from camp will serve me well as I prepare for the next major step in my life:

1. People are important. Nurture relationships. Remember to call my parents.

2. Make time to play!

3. As much as I want to be the superhero that saves everyone, I’ll probably be the one learning and growing the most from my service to others.

4. Singing at the top of my lungs makes everything better, especially if dancing is involved.

5. Do my best! And don’t be afraid of hard work, because even if I never get recognition for it, it’ll still pay off in some way.

6. Teamwork is generally a good idea.

7. Look out for my own needs – don’t feel guilty about taking time for myself. Seriously, relish the recharge time.

8. Trust the wisdom of everyone else, because I definitely don’t know everything. 😉 Ask questions!!

9. Whoever fills my stomach with good food is an angel on Earth…make sure to thank them!

10. God is in EVERYTHING! God is in the music, food, trees, friends, and peaceful breezes just as much as God is in scripture here at camp. Similarly God is in the traffic, academic learning, grocery shopping, family dysfunction and budget balancing of my life, just as God is in the community of Good Earth Village.

The "Human Knot" is one of our team building activities with the campers...this can be really fun or super frustrating depending on your attitude. ;)

The “Human Knot” is one of our team building activities with the campers…this can be really fun or super frustrating depending on your attitude. 😉

As I leave the familiar and venture into the unfamiliar, I can’t guarantee that I will always feel at peace or loved or cared for. But God manifests God’s self in surprising ways. My roots in Minnesota, my family, my faith, creation, relationships…these will all support me as  I grow upward and outward. Trusting this evolving universe to carry me as it continually expands is slightly terrifying. At least knowing the source of the water, air and soil (symbolic and literal) that nurtures me will help me be at peace within these growth spurts. 🙂