There are so many of those indefinable little joys that make summer different from the rest of the year: the bell from the ice cream truck, wildflowers by the roadside, fresh garden tomatoes... We each have our list, but I have just had my favorite – a visit to Camp Kiniya.
This camp for girls ages 10-14, located on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain, is my discovery from the past decade. I was invited, through a former student, to be one of their Sunday chapel speakers, and my love affair began.
To go to Kiniya is to step outside the noise and pressure of the everyday world and to find an education in process. Kiniya is a place where growing young women can discover their own gifts, challenge themselves and learn to share how best to move forward in life.
For 3 1/2 weeks of their stay, cell phones and electronic games are banned and games, drama, athletic skills and communal living are stressed. To eavesdrop on evening vespers when each cabin, grouped by age, gathers to discuss a real life problem is to drop in on a marvelous preparation for adult living.
Last Sunday as the 160+ campers and their counselors gathered in the outdoor chapel beneath the pine trees, with the shining lake as backdrop, I was moved as I stood before them to speak. I had had the opportunity to dine with them, see them, by turn, serve each other at mealtime, and I had enjoyed their delightful version of SHREK. Now they turned their faces toward me to listen to my reflections for the day.
They were a globally diverse group and their healthy faces glowed with the wonderful food they had been consuming. (Theirs is no diet you might associate with camp life!) Nor did they look bored or disinterested. So many of them came to me afterwards to comment on what I said. Each of them is also prepared to take something back to her ordinary life as their camp session ends.
How I wish I could have gone as a camper and then moved on to become a counselor, as so many do at Kiniya. (Gentlemen, Camp Dudley for boys is on the opposite shore!) Instead, I send my prayers and good wishes for long life and health to those who make this little Eden possible.