In the mid-1960’s the Diocese of South Dakota purchased a former dude ranch in the Black Hills for church camp use. In its fourth summer, a brochure for the camp stated:
“The camp was purchased and set up with the principle in mind that in camping we come closer to nature, and thereby discover the mighty works of God.The camping experiences give young people the opportunity of living in a Christian Community and help them discover for themselves who they are in relationship to God and each other. The activities center around daily worship.”
Nearly five decades later, the purpose and mission of the camp remain the same. Located in the Black Hills, about 20 miles south of Lead/Deadwood, young people who attend are invited to participate in an “experiment” in living in Intentional Christian Community. Campers explore what it looks like, and what it means, to live in close quarters loving one another.
Each day begins and ends with worship, and this rhythm provides the backbone for the rest of the day. Using the Book of Common Prayer, and the style of the Taize Community, the worship incorporates meditative singing in a number of different languages, including Lakota. Each worship service also has a significant time of silence. Through silence, we listen more deeply to God’s voice speaking in and through each of us.
Another way that camp fosters love for each member of the community, and listening faithfully, is in being present to one another. Because of this emphasis, campers turn in all electronic devices upon arrival at camp (cell phones, iPods, Kindles, etc.). Electronics are returned to campers once a day during free time, yet the overall absence of such devices creates a more relational atmosphere with those present.
Every year, the camp community works toward loving one another while engaging hearts and minds to look for God working in our everyday world. Together, in community, campers explore God’s amazing capability to work both inside and outside the church.
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