For many years the Claggett Center has been hosting successful summer camps for Maryland’s young people. This year for the first time, EDOW has partnered with Claggett and the Diocese of Maryland – a collaboration that supports Claggett Summer Camps as the destination for EDOW campers and staff, this summer and going forward.
Claggett Center provides an ideal camp setting – 268 acres that include a working farm and extensive facilities, including a junior Olympic-size pool, a ropes course and zipline, hiking trails, and canoeing. It is holy ground to be sure – with gorgeous views of Sugarloaf Mountain and the surrounding Monocacy River valley.
There were four sessions this summer – featuring three week-long camps: High School Week, Middle School Week, and Youth Week – each hosting 60 campers, including boys and girls from Washington. A fourth session brought participants in the Sutton Scholars High School Enrichment Program – 80 Baltimore City high students (grades 9-12).
I arrived at Claggett in mid-June to volunteer where helpful, accepting a gracious invite from the Rev. Spencer Hatcher, Director of Summer Programs. I was warmly welcomed by Spencer and our own Rita Yoe, who serves as Assistant Director – and by the first-rate counselors and staff at Claggett. I served as Co-Chaplain for Middle School Week and staff-at-large throughout – a role that included playing guitar in chapel, facilitating small groups, pastoral moments with kids and staff, leading several evenings of open mic and karaoke – and lots of relationship building in the Claggett community.
The spiritual heartbeat of community life was twice-daily chapel services and small groups, where campers wrestled with Scripture and explored their personal faith in a more intimate setting. Creativity flowed freely and Scripture was often presented in dynamic, engaging ways. The story of Ruth and Naomi, for example, was shared through biblical storytelling, with campers reading parts and everyone singing a refrain: “Wherever you go, I’ll go too. For you’ve got me, my friend, and I’ve got you…”
Chapel services offered times of unbridled joy as well as more reflective moments. There was always room for the Spirit to move! One memorable morning, the homily opened with a reflection on our freedom to love God and our neighbor – and then the band kicked in, and it became a full-throated roar as everyone stood and joyfully sang the Tom Petty song Free Fallin’ – “…well I’m freeeeeee! Free falling…”
Each day at camp was packed full of love and life and laughter. The God moments were powerful and numerous. Yet, it is camp – where some of the best times are unplanned. Lots of memorable moments to share – here’s one… On the last day of camp, a young Sutton Scholar asked Spencer to teach her to swim during our afternoon pool time. They spent some time in the shallow end, and soon she was paddling around with a big smile. That evening, everyone gathered around the final campfire – we sang, we swapped stories, and we danced. Spencer felt a tap on her shoulder – she turned to see her swim buddy who smiled and asked: “Miss Spencer, I want to teach you something. Do you know how to dance the dougie?” And so they danced. It was a beautiful and sacred moment, as they practiced the way of love – each sharing what they have with each other, and letting God’s love do the rest. Blessed be.
Written by the Rev. Kent Marcoux, rector of St. George’s, D.C.