Journeys in Faith

Sacred wilderness
Thursday, August 2, 2018

Photo by Joan Nye
Rev. Tracy Heilman

Last week, I served as chaplain for youth attending the elementary grades camp at Camp Mimanagish.

The name of this church camp on the Boulder River means “Singing Waters,” from an American Indian word. Another more current name is Sacred Wilderness.

This is an environment without screen time for youth, and no one complains. My heart sang as I witnessed and helped youth explore God’s wilderness and grow in community with others.

Mimanagish has some places that are special to campers. As we hiked to “the Place Most High,” we discovered a grassy meadow rimmed by rocks and stumps for sitting. We named this new [to us] spot “Gateway to Heaven,” and that is where we held discussion each morning. Each afternoon, one activity for some youths was to plan worship, and one boy suggested we make banners through which to enter worship, with excitement, as football and basketball teams enter before their games. The youth named this new custom, “Make Way for the Children of God.”

Mimanagish is a wonderful place for all ages. With a generous grant from the Columbus Community Foundation, our church is sending 13 youth from this community to camp here this summer. On behalf of youth campers in this community, we say thank you to all volunteers and investors in the Columbus Community Foundation.

Some years ago, volunteers at Mimanagish created a labyrinth using rows of rocks. Last week, we taught the youth to walk the labyrinth, in meditative thought. Some adults doubted that elementary school youth would “get” this notion. I smiled whenever I saw a youth who chose to walk the labyrinth instead of playing during camp free time. Today’s youth can hunger and thirst for moments of repose in this world and with God’s Words.

This camp has had a large collection of [very old] bibles, donated over the years by churches as they replaced theirs. I decided that youth at camp should be able to read newer bibles with modern language, so I boxed up most from my church sanctuary.

I had planned to bring them back with me last Saturday, but the campers began saying that they wished they had a bible to read at home and asking if they could take a bible home after camp. We couldn’t say no to that request! So now our church has happily sent another boxful for middle school camp.

Mimanagish has camps for adults too, including Fishing Camp Aug. 10-12. All can find a camp for oneself or others and register at

Here are a few words from thank you letters written by last week’s youth:

•“Camp was lots of fun, with hiking, team-building, and amazing food.”

•“You adults should come to Camp Mim too.”

These quotes echo the appreciation expressed by all youth campers from Columbus.