A few years ago, I wrote this before sending my oldest child off to summer camp. After sending him for three years in a row, the magic is still there. Additionally, I feel a deeper meaning when we unload his trunk and get him settled in to our summer church camp for a week of sleep-away camp.
That first year, I had so many questions. What happens if he gets homesick? (He didn’t.) Can I pack candy and treats for his cabin? (I totally did.) Do I pack his outfits in zip loc bags, or throw everything in there and hope for the best? (It turns out I’m a zip loc kind of mom.) I guarantee you that my mom didn’t spend more than five minutes thinking about what to send to camp with me, but I was the third child out of four, and times were simpler back then.
I had lots of seasoned camp parents to help me figure out how to launch our firstborn into camp, and now I get to be that seasoned mom in the drop off line, answering questions about care packages and ear drops.
One thing I didn’t question was how our child would grow as a Christian during his first sessions at camp. This wasn’t because I had already investigated the curriculum that the directors would use that year or asked a lot of questions of camp counselors. Maybe I should have done more investigating into that part of camp, since that was the reason that we were sending him to church camp as opposed to soccer camp or science camp. The reason we sent him to this wonderful church camp was for the church part, after all.
As it turns out, he was in good hands, and I think any questions I asked would have been handily answered, even if the answers were different than I imagined them to be. He came back with a stronger faith, and a stronger knowledge of his faith in the world outside of our little bubble at home.
Part of handing off our child to the loving care of church camp staff was knowing that it was part of our end of baptizing him into the Episcopal Church.
When our child was baptized as a baby, he was too young to answer the questions set forth in the Episcopal liturgy, and so his parents and godparents answered for him. “Will you be responsible for seeing that the child you present is brought up in the Christian faith and life?” We answered, “I will, with God’s help.”
“Will you by your prayers and witness help this child to grow into the full stature of Christ?” Again, we answered, “I will, with God’s help.”
Whoa. The FULL STATURE OF CHRIST. Um.
We would definitely be relying on the “with God’s help” part for that and for the rest of the promises to follow. You see, by the time parents bring a baby home from the hospital, they realize that they are going to need all the help they can get. And that’s without the pressure of helping a kid grow into the full stature of Christ!
In order for the child we present at baptism to be brought up in the Christian faith, the parents have to give up some control of what happens in that child’s life. The church community promises to do everything in their power to support this person in his or her new life in Christ.