Lesson #4: Relationships Matter
Camp, again, is a great example. I believe that at its core, camp is truly about relationships. Nature, sure. Games and fun, yup. Food, absolutely! But NONE of those things would have been nearly as meaningful without the relationships built while enjoying those things. This was clearly demonstrated to me this summer while at Waypost during confirmation camp.
I still, and always will, have a special place in my heart for Waypost Camp. There are many special spaces there for me. But as I was there this summer, I felt that I was missing something. I am now far enough removed from my time there as a staff person, that I have personal relationships with few, if any, staff there. As I walked around camp and saw all of the treasured spaces from my years there, I realized that it wasn't the location or the things there that made it special to me, it was the people. It was the RELATIONSHIPS that I had built with so many former staff and campers that made the space special to me. That point is driven home to me even more so as I continue to see my former coworkers (now I call them friends). We still laugh and share meaningful time together, just like we did at camp. The bonds we made there are so strong, that they carry over anywhere.
We see evidence of our need for positive and meaningful relationships everywhere.
- There is research that points to children's need for several positive relationships ("research" button below).
- I hear anecdotal stories about the importance of relationships all the time. One example: Police in Spencer have made a walk-through of the Spencer schools a part of their regular "route". Students have now begun to build a relationship with those officers; saying hi and giving high-fives as the officers walk through. Police, students, and teachers getting along, feeling comfortable with each other, and feeling safer...sounds like a winner to me.
- In our Disciples for Christ program, youth and their mentors take a meal to an elderly resident's home. They eat and talk with them. The folks they visit really enjoy the company and the conversation. And the youth and mentors generally say they love the experience. They love hearing the stories from previous generations and being able to share some of their own.
Shouldn't this basic human need be the primary focus of the church? Sometimes we get so bogged down in the church with periphery like new programs, old programs, cool activities, praise bands, facility wants/needs, budget, etc. But if those things don't facilitate relationship building, then what is the point?