church camp

Went on Church Camp this weekend. Or ‘Community Weekend’, as they call it at Collins St Baptist Church. L made us all play this stupid game called ‘beetle’, which involved a dice and less skill than bingo. You got to draw the body of a beetle if you got a 6, the head if you rolled a 5, a leg if you got a 4, and so on. The aim was to complete the entire beetle. The only interesting thing about the game was seeing how people drew their beetles – D drew a bizarre rectangular space beetle, and mine had several heads and a third feeler. We had to do this four times, and were so relieved when the whole inane process was over. But then L said, ‘Let’s play it again!’ – which meant that we would in effect have to play ‘beetle’ a total of eight times. Everyone was like, “Are you serious?” But I could see that unless anybody took a stand, we would all be stuck spending the next hour rolling dice and drawing insect legs.
I take special delight in gauging and then representing the dissatisfaction of any disgruntled faction, preferably if I am in agreement. So I stook up and said, “Does anybody want to play a DIFFERENT game?”
There were a some indecisive murmurs and a few people racked their brains for a beetle alternative.
“Sherades?” I asked the group.
The response was completely underwelming. Some people had already starting throwing dice and drawing more beetles. I couldn’t believe it – as far as I could tell, people just didn’t want to make waves; they didn’t want to upset the authority of the minister!
Well, I thought, if I can’t stage a coup, it will have to be a break off faction. So I said, “Whoever wants to play shedades, come with me!”
So me and a group of about six other rebels marched away from the dice-rolling, beetle-drawing minions and began a much more interesting game, involving much skill and imagination.

I have reflected since what the best thing to do would have been. The whole experience was fun, but I did feel like a bit of a ratbag. The schism that developed augmented a generation gap and probably alienated some people, who would have preferred to stay together as a group. But I just couldn’t be a passive supporter of this patronising game. Maybe I should have got some of the less major power players on my side, so that they might have persuaded the whole group to change games. I also ignored R’s game suggestion, which may have been more appropriate for everybody to play. Or, I could have slunk off quietly with my comrades, rather than make a big song and dance about it and possibly have made people feel uncomfortable. To tell the truth, I’m a little shocked at the way people acquiesced at being forced to do something so boring for such a long time. I wonder if it says something significant about our church – a tendency to avoid conflict and to go along with authority, perhaps. How frustrating!

Overall, church camp was ok – got to know a few people from the morning service a bit better, and had some connections with some people I’d been wanting to connect with. Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic…I’d been looking forward to deep group conversations by the river that went into the wee hours of Sunday morning, but that didn’t really happen for me. I find that I often get frustrated when I want to get to a deeper level with people, and all they want to talk about is TV or politics or frivolous anecdotes. I know that these seemingly shallow topics can be the bricks and mortar of something far more solid – that light conversations lead us into the deep in much the same way as the beach transforms into the ocean. But sometimes I feel like I’m stuck on a sandbar. We need to let the tides take us out, rather than clutching to safe and known rocks. Granted, I wasn’t in the mood for light conversations, and tended to leave in frustration rather than await their potential. All in all, I had a lot of laughs over the weekend, but found it kind of unsatisfying. I think we forgot about God – we got so caught up in ‘church vision and direction’ and ‘fun time together’ that we didn’t stop to invite the spirit into the process, or to notice her presence.