The adventure began on a beautiful summer Monday. We ate lunch on the shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais and then headed up the Gunflint Trail to Wilderness Canoe Base. I was excited. As a former guide at WCB, I knew the importance these outdoor experiences and I was eager to hear the stories and witness the transformations of these young people after their adventure in the BWCA. As the current youth mentor at St. Timothy Lutheran Church, I was excited for families from our congregation to arrive at this special place so they too could experience the beauty of God’s creation in this unique place.
Our church tried an experiment this year. We sent three groups (19 people) out on trail on Tuesday morning. Then, on Thursday afternoon, families (45 people) from St. Timothy arrived to spend the weekend at camp. When the three canoe trips arrived back to camp on Saturday morning, their St. Timothy family waited on Canoe Beach to welcome them home.
We had an amazing week. The youth and adults who went on the canoe trips shared reflections with the rest of St. Timothy in the open-air chapel at camp. It was fun for children and adults to ask questions of these youth when the experience was still fresh. Youth shared about moments when they experienced God—in a successful catch of a fish, in a beautiful sunset amidst blueberries aplenty, in a friend who helped portage a canoe, in a prayer from a loved one back home, and in a community that worked together to accomplish something big.
Intergenerational camp was a great opportunity for families and adults to relax away from home. With no distractions of television, smartphones, and schedules, we were able to immerse ourselves in creation and in relationship with one another. It was beautiful to see adults with children (not their own!) paddling in Voyageur canoes or walking the orienteering course together. Many adults shared that this week at camp brought back memories of spending time in beautiful places with their parents when they were kids.
This week reminded me of the importance of spending time with one another. We see each other week after week on Sunday mornings at worship and over coffee, but there is something powerful to be together away from this place. We see each other with fresh eyes. We remember that our church is more than a building. Our church is a people—a people of many generations. And we, as a people, are called into relationship—to love, support, and value one another as the people of God.
My heart overflows with joy for the people of St. Timothy, the staff at Wilderness Canoe Base, and the beautiful creation that we have been given to enjoy. God is present in these places and we are blessed to be a part of this community!
–Anna Helgen, former WCB Canoe Guide and Youth Mentor at St. Timothy Lutheran in St. Paul