This year on Thanksgiving, I went to an historic hotel in New England, where they served a true feast, tables and tables of food! They had heaps of delicious potatoes (regular or sweet!), several varieties of cranberry sauce, five or six salad choices, and not to mention beans, vegetables, breads, raviolis, ham, roast beef, and of course turkey. Oh, and the desserts – all sorts! There were cheesecakes and chocolates, truffles and cookies; and of course the traditional pumpkin pie (my favorite!). Everything was simply delicious. And as an open buffet, you could just eat all you wanted – truly a feast.
But as I looked around the room in the restaurant, what had a real impact on me was the people. There were young people, old people; large families and even a few solo diners; I saw folks from all walks of life. Both lawyers and millworkers were in the room; I saw families with relatives from overseas…and families that all seemed to have lived in the same neighborhood forever.
Though the room was filled with predominantly well-to-do people, there was one family that made a deep impression on me. Based on the way they were acting and dressed, it seemed that this was just about the only time during their year they could afford to go out – and so the parents took their 3 kids (I’d guess they were all between the 5th & 9th grades) on this one day to express gratitude for their year together. I deeply appreciated this family’s desire to spend this particular holiday in a place where you just know the children will understand the value of being grateful.
And at the table next to ours was this elderly couple quietly enjoying their own personal life’s feast of some 50 years together in marriage. I overheard the wife comment how it had been an incredible 49 years together – what an amazing adventure to spend so long together! It was moving to see them just sitting there together, enjoying each other’s company; the tender way they held hands across the table was nothing short of heartwarming.
As I took in all these people in the room, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of the feast of Crystal Lake Camps. For nearly 65 years, CLC has been annually setting a ‘feast’ of programs for Christian Science youth where they can come together and spend their summers together. And just like my fellow diners at Thanksgiving dinner, CLC has seen campers that represent all facets of human experience. Campers from every inhabited continent? Check. Campers that represent the full socio-economic scale? Check. (Yes, we’ve even had some homeless campers over the years.) Inner city and suburban kids; some good at arts, some good at athletics; great horseback riders and great poets.
Thinking along these lines made me realize one of the real values of Crystal Lake Camps is that every year since it’s founding in the 40’s, CLC has been able to offer meaningful activities to young Christian Scientists. And it has never mattered where you come from, how you heard about CLC, or how many generations have been coming to camp. But instead, what’s important is the sharing of Christian Science. It’s remarkable to me the heritage the Alford family left with CLC was not about camp activities per se, but about community. That as a camp family, we work to build each other up. As a community, we can strive to show that true, unconditional love heals all.
CLC’s history shows, time and time again, that by setting the table full, expectant of a feast –God does provide it to all who need what we have to offer. In a way, it’s not up to the camp to outline who gets to partake – that is really up to God. The camp’s goal is to set the feast, let the world know it’s here to be shared, and let everyone come who can – it is our way of setting out ‘a cup of cold water in Christ’s name.’
So this Thanksgiving season, the Crystal Lake Camps organization is grateful to all who have come to partake in our feast over the years. We are incredibly proud to continue this tradition today! It is each of you who makes CLC the valued, cherished, and unique program that it is today.
Simply put, CLC is blessed – by YOU. Thank you!
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