Many Voices One Mission: The Backbone of Silver Lake


Ryan Gackenheimer

3/27/2019

Silver Lake, like many of our United Church of Christ Summer Camp programs have a unique model of staffing our Counselor positions. It is very common in the UCC to have Volunteer Counselors come for one week and a new group of counselors to be working with the campers every week of the summer. They minister alongside the summer staff who work at Silver Lake through the entire summer. One of the amazing aspects of this model is that through the course of each summer we have over 100 counselors caring for, playing alongside, growing in faith, developing as leaders, and having fun with our campers. Each of these counselors brings their own unique gifts and skills, their favorite songs, unique games and stories, and ways of connecting with campers.

This is a gift to the ministry of Silver Lake. Another gift is this model of volunteer counselors, I believe, is a reflection of the polity of the UCC. And I think it also reflects why this way of doing camp has persisted in the UCC, while other denominations have moved to other models. The power source, if there is such a thing, in the UCC resides with the congregant in the pew of the local church (or at camp). And with that focus on the gathered body, it only makes sense that Outdoor Ministry centers around having such a wide and diverse population representation supporting and making Church Camp amazing.

Silver Lake is doing a new thing. One of the ways we are helping our Counselors to be even more amazing is by having a Counselor Retreat. April 12-13 Silver Lake is hosting a retreat for all of our counselors. I hope that all counselors will attend, but we realize it might take a year or two to get to 100% participation, especially when you do something new. At the Counselor Retreat our volunteer leaders will have a chance to become even more wonderful mentors, leaders, comedians, musicians, historians, disc golfers, story tellers, and so much more. This is a chance for counselors to get to be campers and be immersed in the fun of camp, to be reminded of that perspective of those with whom they are working. And to deepen, widen, and grow their skills, games, tricks, and gifts. All of this work is in addition to the training we will continue to do with counselors at Silver Lake throughout the summer before campers arrive.

We’ll share best practices, learn different songs and games, and have a ton of fun. Whether it is one’s first time counseling or the 30th, we want you for the Counselor Retreat, April 12-13! And if you have you have never been a counselor, come and join us. It is going to be amazing! Counseling is the back bone of Silver Lake’s ministry. Counselors are the ones who are there for the deep spiritual conversations with the campers, who get to celebrate the big successes at the High Ropes and the Waterfront, who get to read the bedtime stories, and to experience our young folks finding out just how much God loves them no matter what. It truly is a life changing experience being a counselor. Life changing both for the campers and for the counselors.

https://www.silverlakect.org/counselors  Volunteer to be a Counselor at Silver Lake
https://www.silverlakect.org/campsession/12551419 Register for the Counselor Retreat

Rev. Ryan Gackenheimer is the Executive Director of Silver Lake Conference Center.
Many Voices
Many Voices, One Mission is a regular series highlighting the ministries of the
CT, MA, and RI Conference of the United Church of Christ.
 



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