Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Bishop Goes to Camp -- Chickens, Farms, Bracelets and Candles

Walking to breakfast this morning I was treated to the sight of many rabbits and wild turkeys on the Dining Hall lawn. The rabbits were scurrying about, and the turkeys were pecking at the grass. I have so loved these sights each morning! Immediately after breakfast Kay Sylvester, Beth Bojarski and I got in Beth's car and started out to the farm that's on the other side of the camp property. As with many trips on the camp grounds wild life abounds. As we were walking to Beth's car, I spotted lots of squirrels and various kinds of birds, including magpies. Driving down the driveway we stopped as a mother deer and her babies were ahead of us on the road, staring at us. Here they are for you to see. As they walked away, we continued on our way over to the farm.

One of the plots at the farm had lettuce which ended up getting scorched in the heat wave the area had a few weeks back, according to Beth. In its place Ryan Wanamaker planted broccoli, cabbage and other things which grew quickly. Ryan had been growing cilantro in one area, and when it was "done", he let it continue to grow and flower. This attracted the bees who keep things nicely pollinated. Ryan is particularly astute at using what is there ecologically to enhance the garden and the produce in the garden. Here is a picture of Beth and Kay in that part of the garden.

Next stop -- the chicks! I posted earlier today on Facebook a video I took of the chicks -- they are SO cute! John Horton told me that when they arrived (via special mail) the local post office called over to the camp and said, "come and get your chicks!" They did, and put them in a special covered pen/house. While I posted at the beginning of my time at camp a few pictures of the area the 70+ chickens live beside the dining hall, there are a few dozen more chickens in a fenced in area at this farm, right beside the area where the new chicks are being housed. The difference between the mature chickens and the chicks we encountered today is this: the mature chickens are used for egg production for the camp. The new chicks are being raised for meat production. As with the pigs, these new chicks will make their way to tables in the future. This is part of the work of the camp -- and it is interesting to see the reaction people have to this "news". Knowing how and where your food is coming from is powerful -- it is not unlike the "farm to fork" initiative in Ireland, for example, where animals and vegetables are identified so you know exactly where your food is coming from. At any rate, the chicks were too cute! Here is a picture of Beth in the pen with a handful of chicks.

Next stop -- feeding the chickens in the pen next to the chicks. I did this a few years ago and really loved it. The chickens peck at your hands when you hold scratch in it for them -- two chickens said, "forget the scratch, I want your watch!" They were trying to eat my watch! They have different varieties of chickens in the pen, which lay different colored eggs -- brown, white and green. The hens are fed a special food which helps harden the shell a bit. While we were in the pen, the minute Beth started to head over to the bin where the scratch is kept, she was immediately joined by virtually all the chickens! Here's a picture of me feeding the chickens. I noticed some were missing some of their back feathers. When I asked Beth she told me that "there is a literal pecking order." Enough said. Visual image permanently engrained in my mind!

We then walked over the very short distance to the area where campers can come for an overnight -- right here at the farm. There are large wooden platforms for them to sleep on, an outdoor sink, a portable stove to cook on. The campers can go into the garden and pick vegetables for a stir fry dinner, and have the experience of being out in nature yet so near an incredible source of food! I think this is my new favorite overnight spot! After this we walked through the rows and rows of tomato plants Ryan has growing in another area of the garden. Needless to say, nothing tastes better than a freshly picked, warm tomato!

Back in the car and back to camp. After lunch I headed up to the Arts and Crafts center with a white pair of capris that got stained in India to tie dye them. Beth is an expert tie dyer, and she made a special batch of blue purple dye for me. She taught the 20+ campers the basics of tie dyeing, and we were off and running. I tried to do the swirl pattern up the legs of my pants. I'll post a picture of them when they are done "cooking". Kay tie dyed a t-shirt, and when we were both done we headed back down to the picnic table by the Dining Hall. Kay had her beads out, and campers were already hard at work. I finished a bead bracelet I was making for a friend of the family (a young girl). I REALLY wanted to learn to make a friendship bracelet to give to Steve--he wears those. Andrea, one of the campers who was with us yesterday (and who is a great teacher) taught me how to make one. She is a master! Kay held the end for me, and I was on my way! One of the strings broke, but Andrea made a quick repair Voila! Here is a picture of Kay holding the finished project -- just don't tell my husband Steve!

After dinner Kay and I joined David's group outside the Dining Hall to make candles and talk about the Eucharist on Friday. It was a very lively event! The campers were split into two groups -- while one group went to look for sticks to secure the wicks of the candles to and to find cool things (such as leaves, acorn or bark) to put in their candles, the other group was trimming down the size of the cups the candles were going to be made in. David, who I found out tonight is from Irvine (graduated for University High) melted wax and added crayons for color. He had a blue wax and a red wax, and campers got to choose which color. By mixing the two he made purple! Some campers let their candles cool then added another color on top -- some multi-tiered their candles. Kay offered a wonderful reflection on the Eucharist -- likening it to Thanksgiving Dinner. The campers understood -- David made a candle that the campers would offer for use in the Eucharist on Friday! Here is a picture of David pouring wax into the cup to make a candle.

Community Gathering was fun as always! Lots of great songs. As the group gathered tonight was different from the group we had last night, Trevor asked them about their experiences -- what was new for them. Many of the campers had never slept out under the stars. Everyone mentioned seeing shooting stars, cooking outdoors, and the games they played. Mike Stone, the Transitional Deacon from the Diocese of San Diego and Chaplain with Kay this week offered the reflection tonight. He told a "Holy Fish" story. I'm not going to ruin it by outlining it here, because hopefully someone will tape him telling it and put it on YouTube! Here he is telling the story.

I leave you with more pictures from today's adventure at Camp Stevens.

Location:Camp Stevens, Julian, CA United States

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