The Center is always open to and looking for new partnerships and connections within and around Baltimore. Just like we host visiting groups from all religious traditions, race, sexual orientation/identity, and from every part of the United States (and the Czech Republic through relationship with First of Annapolis Presbyterian Church), etc. The Center began conversation and build relationship with Epiphany Lutheran Church on the Northeast side of Baltimore. Epiphany has had a relationship with the kids in the neighborhood who occasionally would come to the church for events; or who attend the school that is housed within the churches gym and educational building. They saw these connections as an opportunity to try something new to get to know the kids and their parents better. Enter in Mar-Lu-Ridge and summer camp!
Mar-Lu-Ridge is a part of the Lutheran Church and is a camp located outside of Baltimore city near Frederick, Maryland. This mountain top camp host weeks of summer camps, but offers a mobile camp to churches at a distance who serve neighborhoods where access to camp for kids might be challenging. The camp sends a few of its counselors to help the area church run and lead camp and also provides a day for the campers to come out to Mar-Lu-Ridge and experience the outdoor space and activities. Epiphany reached out to The Center to see if we would be hosting a group that week to come help out. There were a few prospects that did not pan out and so for us at The Center we had to think creatively about how to support the camp and continue to build trust in this new relationship. Epiphany was able to have some of their teenagers come and help as counselor assistants for the camp, and I went as a volunteer to learn more about camp objectives and to honor The Center’s word that we would support the camp.
The first few days were a little awkward for me; it is not easy to establish trust and be in a role of leadership in a place unfamiliar. I understand what our visiting groups must feel when we ask them to step into this role as well when they are working at camp sites. Like any new thing there were a few “don’t do this again” and lots of “this worked better than we thought” moments. The kids had a great time and parents exchanged information and talked to one another while waiting to pick up their camper. Epiphany took a step to try something new and learned a new way to be church and neighbor to their community. I am sure this is the start of a beautiful new partnership between The Center and Epiphany Lutheran Church.