Camp EDOW: As I Went Down to the River to Pray

by | Aug 4, 2015

On Sunday, campers arrive; some eager and some reluctant. Cabins are moved into, beds are made and parents wave goodbye. As the evening progresses, there is an already but not yet sense of community as old friends catch up on the intervening year and new friends are made. That same new community tentativeness continues the next day which can make the first full day of camp tricky. As the day unfolds, however, the tentativeness dissipates and campers and staff increasingly find ourselves in a beloved community. We are becoming Camp EDOW 2015.

Worship today is a riverside Eucharist. Campers and staff gather in front of the dining hall and walk together to the riverfront singing, “As I went down to the river to pray…good Lord show me the way. O children, let’s go down, come on down…good Lord show me the way.” Our altar is an upside down canoe supported by two saw horses at the water’s edge. We sing and pray and share the bread and wine of communion with the sounds of wind and water and birds all around us. There is a refreshing breeze which makes the sun bearable and as this canoEucharist draws to a close we are all conscious of the beauty of creation.

Our day continues with various camp activities: ropes course, archery, arts and crafts and at the end of the afternoon almost everyone opts for time in the pool in order to cool off. Chicken strips for dinner are met with glee and the final activity of the day is the annual counselor hunt. Once all the counselors have been found, we gather back in the center of camp to say Compline. “Guide us waking O God and guard us sleeping, that awake we may watch with Christ and asleep, we may rest in peace.” And then the day ends with showers and quiet cabin time.

The first full day of camp finishes with a sense of accomplishment and shared adventure. Prayer and play conclude the day. Friendships are renewed or begun and Camp EDOW rests safely in God’s embrace.

The Rev. David Wacaster is a Camp EDOW chaplain and rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Silver Spring.