This is a decades-long adventure that started for me in the summer of 2001. That was my first summer at Camp Westminster as a counselor. That summer, which I went into with many apprehensions, proved to be a turning point in my life. That summer, I discovered God was with me and available to me in a way I had never experienced before. I learned that I could do, with God’s help, much more than I had thought possible. And I discovered a community that accepted and loved me for being me. I also met Julie that summer, who would years later become my wife.
In the summers that followed, as I returned on staff at Camp Westminster, I felt a clear sense of call to outdoor ministries. There is a unique kind of learning which takes place every day at camp. At camp, we open the door to discover God, yourself, and your community. Campers are welcomed as they are but also challenged to grow.
Julie and I answered this call together in 2011 when we took co-director positions at a camp in Texas. We soon found our way back to Michigan and served as co-directors again at an outdoor ministry site not far from Camp Westminster. When that camp was closed by the board, I tried several other roles, from church custodian to director of operations for a nonprofit legal firm. I still felt the call to serve in outdoor ministry, but had also felt like the Detroit area was where I was supposed to be.
When Martha Blenman, chair of Camp Westminster’s administrative commission, called to ask if I would be able to help lead Camp Westminster through its current leadership transition, I knew it was the right opportunity for me at the right time. Serving not just in the Detroit area but in a community that has been so important to my formation? I couldn’t pass it up.
This past summer was everything I had hoped for. We built a great team in record time, campers had a great time, and it was a safe summer for all. It was a great reminder to me that just as much as camp is a place of discovery, it is also a place for joy. Joy happens in big and small ways at camp when God finds us in the wilderness. It is always surprising.
One of our staff recently told me about the joy he saw in a camper preparing and performing for a camp talent show. He was a happy clown, and she was a sad clown. Their clown characters reenacted the tortilla challenge (it’s a TikTok thing, ask a younger person if you’re not familiar), where each person fills their mouth with water and takes turns slapping the other with a tortilla. These were gentle slaps between a 6’5’ counselor and a 3’ camper. She was supposed to be the sad clown, but there was no sadness when her tortilla slap made the happy clown (and all of the audience) erupt with laughter. In the weirdest of skits that night, we all found joy together.
These experiences of joy, discovery, and liberation to be who you truly are, are the best of what Camp Westminster can be. These are the kinds of experiences that have bound generations of campers into our big camp community. These kinds of experiences are how God meets us in the wilderness.
I am excited to be able to continue this work of discovery alongside the congregation of Westminster Church, our generations of alums, and all of our camp families.
God our captain, on we sail.
-Adam Delezenne, Executive Director