When my mom told me I would be going away to a week-long summer camp when I was in 4th grade, my immediate reaction was fear. I didn’t want to leave my family and the comfort of my own home to stay somewhere so foreign to me with people I didn’t know. Nevertheless, my mom insisted that I go and try something new. I soon found myself at the beginning of a journey that would change my life.
There’s nowhere else in the world like Westminster Woods, and that is what makes it such a special place. Where else can you spend a week dedicating all your time to fellowship, fun, and growing closer to God?
I’ve met so many amazing, genuine people at Westminster Woods, and that is a big part of what brings me back year after year. I love the technology-free environment camp provides; it allows me to have real conversations with my peers and enables a certain closeness to form that I don’t have with my friends outside of camp. Some of the people I’ve met have become some of my closest friends, and I talk to many of them through social media on a daily basis. It’s astonishing how one week at the Woods allows me to develop relationships as intimate as some outside of camp I’ve worked to strengthen for years.
I also enjoy the Christian community that comes together at the Woods and the feeling of mutual support while on our individual journeys of faith. The counselors and leaders are also an important part of the Woods and become role models for me as I try to navigate my own relationship with God.
Westminster Woods wouldn’t be what it is without the crazy amount of fun that is had every summer. From night games to the hoedown, the whole week is filled with constant surprises and entertainment. Yet, there is a perfect balance between the fun of the camp and the real reason we attend.
When you walk onto the Westminster Woods grounds you can immediately feel God’s presence, and you start to see God in everything you do and the people around you. Every morning, waking up, attending in•spire, and devoting that time to God is such a moving experience. Emmaus walks are another way that I see God throughout the week: getting to spend an hour with someone you barely know and learning about their faith story makes God that much more visible.
After eight years of attending summer camp and weekend retreats, Westminster Woods has become my second home and the people there, my second family. It’s the one place I look forward to going to the most in my life and the place I miss the most when I leave. With this upcoming summer being my senior year, it’s going to be so hard leaving somewhere that has played such a huge role in my young life. However, I know I can keep with me the friends I have made and the lessons I have learned from my times at Westminster Woods forever.