At Camp Fowler, we believe that good food, properly prepared, is vital to the health and well-being of our campers, staff and volunteers. We reject the stereotype of “bad camp food,” instead focusing on using whole foods, making meals from scratch, baking our own breads, and sourcing our food as locally as we can, even from our own garden and chickens.
Our summer Chef is key to this process. This person works to provide timely, well-balanced, and nutritious meals and food services in accordance with the total camp program. The Chef oversees all tasks associated with providing the best possible food for our community.
Think you might be interested? Know someone who is? Read our Position Description below and or reach out to us:
A lot of campers refer to Fowler as “home.” I just got back from spending 3 days with 29 campers for our annual Winter Camp which we hold during the President’s Day school break. We snowshoed and slid on the ice and played a lot of games warmed by the big fireplace in the Chi Rho House. Camp, in so many ways, is so different in the winter.
And yet, the sense of “home” was there. A place where you are welcomed, where laughter comes quickly, and you can safely be yourself. There is no magic to creating this atmosphere, just a lot of intentionality. Like Uncle Jorden making grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch; Aunt Josey cutting the lake hike short because of the cold wind; or Aunt Melissa playing guitar and inviting Billy to join her.
When I returned, I found the following poem in my in box. It is from my friend, Fatimah, who now lives far away, but who would come every June for 12 years to spend time with Shaykh Mokhtar and 60 other brothers and sisters from the Islamic community. She too speaks of coming home here.
It seems as if Jesus was fond of welcoming people into a sort of home: a place where they could truly be themselves and really engage in the world. Enjoy the poem and see you at camp…
I miss my special space.
I miss the stillness.
I miss watching the leaves spiral to their resting place.
I miss every creek and squeak.
I miss every meteor streak.
I miss my special place.
I miss the sounds.
I miss those grounds.
I miss ripples
And the waves
I yearn to be in my special place.
And my friend the rock
That let's me sit and talk
And cry and talk, and talk and talk.
Oh my friend the rock.
I miss the hearty laughter of my brother Kent
As he walks in balance with time well spent
I miss Chi Rho and the warmth it shares
I miss my room filled with all my cares.
I miss my home, my special space.
Josey tells me I have to start “blogging” so here I go. Perhaps it's a sign of the times. The era of just putting out a brochure and having camp fill up with campers has been over for a long while. Now I guess I’m supposed to write something witty or pithy between summer seasons…
But a number of things happened this last weekend that are worth writing about:
the Board of Trustees began the process of reshaping itself to better care for this ministry which is so important to so many. A weekend retreat found them reassessing how we care for staff, provide resources for the camp, and what the philosophy or our pricing structures should be.
We got walloped with a big snowstorm and some record setting cold. Cold and snow are not unusual, but one retreat group got stranded for an extra day in Troost Lodge because of the weather.
We had a “super blood wolf moon lunar eclipse”. How cool is that? If you could stand the -20 temperatures you would have really enjoyed watching it from the Meadows.
But the most important thing that happened last weekend was the arrival of the Zegstroo family. Harv, Marty, Wyatt, Adelin, Aubrey, Flint, and Teddy the golden-doodle dog arrived amidst the meeting and cold and snow and found they were “home:” not in the figurative way that many refer to Fowler, but in the real earthy way of being the place where you put your stuff down. Harv and the clan are home.
And a new era begins. We are excited for the hope of telling the stories 10 years from now of how it all began. And we are grateful for the people who come into our lives who become friends, comrades, and family.
Make sure you reach out a hand to greet the Zegstroos next time you’re up and share your story of how you became part of this ongoing tale we call “Camp Fowler.”
Registration for Summer Camp 2019 opens at Midnight on December 1st (that’s Friday night, to those of you who can’t quite remember what day it is). We are hoping for an unprecedented number of early registrations this year, from people who just can’t wait for camp!
The first 150 campers to register and the first 30 cabin counselors to apply will get a limited edition, free t-shirt mailed to them early in the new year. The only way to get this shirt is if you’re one of the first to sign up. It won’t be available in the store this summer. If you forget your way home, you’ll always have this shirt to guide you back. See you at midnight on December 1st!
Every week of the summer, we invite one or two ministers to come serve as our Chaplain for the week. Many of these ministers are local clergy serving churches and organizations in the capital region, but we also have ministers who travel from Michigan and Ohio to spend the week with us. These Chaplains work with our Summer Staff to present the summer theme to campers in a creative, meaningful, and spirit-led way. Because our Chaplain is different every week, the presentation of our theme is different every week. This allows campers, volunteers, and staff to engage with our summer theme in several different ways, creating a richer experience for everyone.
This summer, our theme will revolve around the interactions between thoughts, prayers, and actions. We are excited to learn from these Chaplains as they take a week of their summer to come explore with us. If you want to learn more about our chaplains, click the button above!
We believe that you're never too old to come to Camp
Are you wondering where the name "Triple A" comes from? Yeah, we get that a lot. Triple A stands for Adirondacks, Arts, and Aquatics and although the acronym has evolved over the years, the name stuck. Back in the 80s, we had three separate High School weeks: a adirondack adventure week, a fine arts week, and an aquatics/athletics week. We combined them into Triple A when we realized the value in doing a little bit of everything. Today, Triple A is our iconic, high school camp week.
Triple A is designed for high school campers specifically and it's distinct from LEAD Week or Una Tierra (the other two options for high schoolers). We pull out all the stops for Triple A: our days are fuller and our nights are longer. It's one whole week of nonstop energy and adventure! Discovery time and vespers are rich times to dive into the word together and look for the movement of God in this world and in our lives. We sing songs and tell stories around a campfire every night and send our seniors out into the world at worship on Friday. It's a beautiful way to spend a week of your summer, especially as you prepare to head out into the world beyond high school.
One of our favorite unplanned things about Triple A is the mornings. We intentionally move our schedule back for Triple A a half hour later than it is all the other weeks of camp. We started doing this because we thought high schoolers like to sleep in. However, what we have found is that Triple A campers don't use that time to sleep in. Many of them wake up early, come down to the porch at Fenimore Hall, and just sit and talk with one another and with staff. It's a really delightful time of fellowship and community that we had nothing to do with on a staff level. It's really special.
One of our other favorite parts of Triple A are our challenge trips. Each day, we offer one session that is marked as our "challenge trip" of the day. This is a more difficult trip than any of the other sessions offered that day. We will often go hike a high peak, embark on the impossible canoe full of bushwhacks and river miles, and search for lost waterfalls. This is a great way to challenge yourself and explore corners of the Adirondacks that are less traveled!
Overall, Triple A is a week full of campers who really want to be at camp. We often hear them talk about how they welcome a week of rest; where they don't have to have their cell phones on them, where they can take a break from their normal lives. There's a community that exists in Triple A that is built out of many years spent at camp together; but there's always room for newcomers to join in.
We believe that you're never too old to come to camp. Triple A is proof of that.
We started LEAD week in 2013 when we restructured our SWiM Program. When we moved away from a SWiM program where high schoolers came for two weeks in a row to serve as SWiMs, we replaced it with one week of training and one week of service. LEAD Week was developed to provide this training.
However, LEAD Week has evolved into something that is not just for SWiMs. It's for any high-school aged camper that wants a little something different out of their camp experience. LEAD Week campers are given the opportunity to engage with camp in a way that is distinct from all the other weeks of camp we offer. It's purpose is three-fold: to provide high schoolers with leadership training and service opportunities, to train SWiM's and those interested in one day applying for summer staff, and to give campers the opportunity to experience camp with a smaller, more intimate group of peers and staff.
LEAD Week is designed to train young leaders to prepare them to serve in their churches, schools, and communities. LEAD Week is not just about how much fun we can pack into a week of camp--although we have our share of fun--it's about learning to see yourself as a leader and focusing your attention outward to serve those around you. Over the course of a week, LEAD Week campers will participate in a number of service projects: whether that is cleaning up a wilderness campsite across the lake, working on a project for Fowler, or helping out one of our neighbors in town. All LEAD Week campers finish the week with 40 hours of community service. Many campers choose to use these community service hours to fulfill school credit or to use on college applications. We are happy to fill out any necessary forms or paperwork so this community service can be useful to you. We believe life is about so much more than any one of us, so we want to do our part in helping high schoolers live that out.
LEAD Week is also designed to provide instruction to high schoolers in what it looks like to run a week of camp. This is useful to those who are interested in being SWiMs later in the summer, but it's also useful to anyone who is considering applying to Summer Staff at any point in the future. While coming to LEAD Week in no way gives you preference in our consideration for summer staff positions, it will help to educate you on some of the practicals and logistics about running a camp. You will learn about how to run a low ropes session, how to make sure everyone stays safe on a hike off camp property, and what it looks like to lead and After Meal Song, among many other things. For SWiMs, this training is crucial to making your service as a SWiM meaningful, effective, and fun.
Finally, as our only all-high-school alternative to Triple A, LEAD Week offers high schoolers the chance to experience a week of camp with a smaller group of people in a more intimate way. LEAD Week usually doesn't have more than 40 campers and because of this smaller group size, there is a level of closeness that develops among LEAD Week campers that doesn't happen with Triple A. Our Discovery times are more oriented around group discussions and conversation and we do more activities all together as a group. As staff, we plan LEAD Week to be special, because we can do things during LEAD Week that we can't do any other week of the summer due to the unique enthusiasm of LEAD Week campers and the small group size. We won't give too much away, but let's just say we have some AWESOME things planned for LEAD Week this summer. You don't want to miss out!
We're back to explain our two Middle School weeks to you: Horizons and Adirondack weeks! Both weeks are for campers coming out of 7th, 8th and 9th grade and they differ slightly in the type of camp experience they offer. This summer, Adirondack week will take place July 8-13 and Horizons week will take place July 29-August 3.
Adirondack week is for Middle Schoolers who really want to get out and explore. We added it as an alternative option to Horizons for campers who wanted more--more adventures, more challenges, more views. We make it our goal during Adirondack week to make it to as many corners of the Adirondacks as possible. Each day, we'll leave camp to climb to mountain peaks, paddle winding rivers, and kayak across big lakes.
While many of our weeks of camp offer a more well rounded set of options for sessions, Adirondack week really focuses on day trips: getting campers out of camp and into the backcountry. We often offer trips for Adirondack week that are not offered for Middle Schoolers in Horizons or Una Tierra weeks, so this week is an awesome chance to tackle some new mountains or try out some new paddles.
Horizons week really focuses on expanding the horizons of everyone there. We emphasize trying things you haven't tried before: maybe that's sailing, maybe that's learning about gardens and compost and chickens, maybe that's tackling our low ropes course or climbing a new mountain. Our sessions are broad and varied, offering campers the chance to try something new each day. While we still offer hiking and paddling trips off camp property like we do in Adirondack, we also offer more incamp sessions in the areas of arts, recreation, and nature. Horizons is a classic camp experience, designed specifically for middle schoolers.
We love Horizons and Adirondack week because they give Middle Schoolers a chance to just play, something they don't get very often. School is often rigorous and structured and Middle School is often when students start to experience serious academic and social pressures regularly. We love that, at camp, campers don't have to be students. They can just be kids. It's a great reprieve from their daily lives where they are constantly being told who to be and what to do.
Horizons and Adirondack weeks get middle schoolers out of their comfort zones in really positive ways and we see the impact it has on their lives. They get to meet people who don't know them from school and try things they don't get to try in their daily lives. They often leave with new friends and new interests and a greater sense of their place in the world. If we can help to provide that for young teenagers, we're doing what we want to be doing.
To the unfamiliar eye, Fowler's summer schedule can seem a bit confusing. What does Una Tierra mean? What's the difference between Horizons and Adirondack Week? Why is it called Triple A? And can someone please explain what S.W.i.M. stands for?
We'll admit, it's not very self-explanatory. So we want to use the month of March to explain a little bit more about each of our weeks of Camp. We're going to do our best to outline the following: where the name of the week comes from, distinguishing features of the week, the rationale behind the targeted age group, and the history behind how the week came to be. We're excited to share a little bit more about how we do things at Fowler and we hope this is helpful for you as you consider when to come to camp going forward.
To start, we want to talk a little bit more about Trail Mix and ADK Wild. The nuts and bolts: Trail Mix is for 3rd-5th graders* and is the only option exclusively for this age group. ADK Wild is for 5th-6th graders and is considered one of our Outcamp** weeks. ADK Wild is the only Outcamp option for 5th-6th graders. Both of these weeks are designed specifically for groups of our youngest campers who fall between a short age range. This is part of what makes these weeks unique. We think that there is something special about being with a group of people who are similar in age because there are often physical, social, and developmental similarities between the group of campers. This allows us, as Staff, to better meet the needs of our campers because we can design activities geared specifically toward this more narrow set of needs.
With that in mind, Trail Mix is designed for campers who have less experience with Camp. We give everyone a chance to try everything: from hiking to canoeing to arts to games to playing in the woods. During the day, Trail Mix campers will experience activities through rotations so everyone can try everything. We have cabin time in the afternoon to make sure everyone is rested for an evening filled with crazy all-camp games, campfires, and stargazing. Campers get daily free time as well.
If you talk to the majority of Summer Staff, the first week they came to as a camper was Discovery Week; it's often what hooked them on the summer camp experience from a young age. Trail Mix is the newest iteration of Discovery week. We changed the name to Trail Mix in 2009 because, just as the peanut-y, raisin-y, chocolate-y goodness is the iconic camping snack, Trail Mix is the iconic camp week. Our goal is to make this week the beginning of a lifelong love of Camp.
In a similar vein, ADK Wild is the updated version of a longstanding Fowler program: our Wilderness Weeks. Wilderness Weeks started as a way to help young children fall in love with the wilderness by spending time in it. Basically, it's one week of pure, unspoiled play outside. It's fun, it's playful, and its wild. We changed the name to ADK Wild in 2013 because we felt it better captured the playfulness and craziness that always seems to happen during these weeks. Just like Trail Mix is often the beginning of a lifelong love of incamp, ADK Wild is often the first step in becoming a true Outcamper.
Like all our Outcamps, ADK Wild is a week for a small group (usually 10) to bond by playing outside together. Led by two of our trained wilderness guides, the group spends all week exploring different ways to experience the wilderness. They'll sleep in the Wilderness Area on camp property where we have two rustic Adirondack-style lean-tos. They'll get to help cook all their meals on campfires and camp stoves and live out of their backpack for the week. They might spend one day hiking a mountain, another day paddling canoes, and another day learning important wilderness skills like map-reading, fire-building and knot-tying. The last night of the week, they'll pack up their gear and head into the wilderness for a backcountry overnight. We often say that once you try Outcamp, there's no going back. This is where you start.
We hope this was helpful as you consider how you want to spend your summer. We can't articulate enough how much we love both Trail Mix and ADK Wild weeks. Watching young people's eyes sparkle as they watch a sunset over the mountains, hearing them scream with delight as they run into the freezing cold lake in the morning, and watching them try to stay awake in the last hour of the day because they're so tired, but they don't want to miss anything is one of our great joys as Camp Staff. It's a tremendous privilege to be present for such an important part of their lives. On behalf of your children, thank you for sending them to Camp.
*When we say 3rd grade, we mean coming out of 3rd grade; as in, you just finished third grade in the school year prior to the summer.
**Outcamp is distinct from Incamp in that it's focused on a wilderness camp experience. Outcamp trips are for smaller groups of campers (usually 6-10) who spend the whole week with 2-3 staff wilderness guides exploring the wilderness around the Adirondacks. They make their own food and spend the nights in tents, hammocks, and lean-tos and they typically spend most of their time off of Fowler property. You can think of it as the more "rustic," adventure-based camp experience.
We have to engage, we have to stand up, we have to fight, rooted in God’s promise that all hope is not lost.
The Leaders and Campers at Parque have spent the past year planted in Revelation; reading about “Juan” the Prophet, pondering his visions about what is to come. Their theme for the summer is all about hope as their motor in the face of despair. They’ve spent hours exploring what it means to live lives that acknowledge the reality of the way things are in the world, while keeping their eyes firmly fixed on the hope that this is not the way things will always be.
There’s this beautiful transfer of knowledge that happens with this theme, a wonderful chain of learning where pastors and wise adults help guide young adults, and young adults help guide adolescents, and adolescents help guide children. The result is truly amazing.
This past week a group of 15 and 16 year old campers took over Parque for 6 days. For many of them, this was their last week of camp as campers and they were determined to squeeze everything they could out of it. From epic night games to early morning sunrises to singing together on the stairs outside the cabins, it was a magical week. They also got the chance to explore despair and hope in their lives and in the world by studying Revelation, led by passionate and kind leaders as their guides.
It was a privilege to witness this happening. On Saturday, they talked about despair and brokenness in the world. They read a passage in Revelation 6 and began thinking about the power of war and economy and death and government at work in the world today. They split into small groups to talk about it in depth and it was inspiring to listen to them articulate how they see these forces at work in the world and how they feel empowered to do something about it.
They talked about the destruction of the environment and corrupt governments and violence and inequality. They approached these conversations with empathy for the oppressed, courage to name the reality of the way things are, and hope that they won’t always be this way. With guidance from their leaders, these 15 and 16 year olds were learning how to care for the hurting world in which they live, not with an attitude of despair but with an attitude of hope. To have a cohort of young people headed out into the world with faith formation like this is a hopeful thing.
This posture of caring for the world, of standing with the marginalized, of protecting the abused, of fighting for the oppressed is one that Parque demonstrates beautifully. In everything they do, they demonstrate that their belief that a better world, a New Jerusalem is possible. Amidst the despair and fear and hurt in the world today, it’s inspiring to come here and be reminded all is not lost, that there are good people fighting the good fight, that hope can make space in the world for good, that love is stronger than pain, stronger than hate, stronger than fear. It’s inspiring to see a group of young people working to bring the New Jerusalem to this hurting world—here and now.
And it’s comforting to know that we’re not alone in this fight, in this mission, in this hopeful vision for a better world. Because at Camp Fowler, we’re fighting for these things too. We long for a world where people and animals and plants and rivers are valued for what they are, not for what they can give. We long for a world where language and culture and religion and gender and race don’t divide us. We long for a world where love and compassion are stronger than power and economy. And, like the people at Parque, we know that we can’t just long for these things and expect them to happen. We have to engage, we have to stand up, we have to fight, rooted in God’s promise that all hope is not lost.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by despair, take comfort in the knowledge that there are still people fighting, in New York, in Uruguay, and in so many other places. Join us at Camp Fowler in our commitment to care for a world that is hurting, because there is much to be done. Join us because we promise that your week at camp won’t just be about you; it will be about all of us. Join us because this world needs more people like you fighting for good. Join us because there is hope. Join us--at Camp Fowler and at Parque—as we move forward in that hope, caring for the world.
"We believe that the best things in life are not toys and bells and whistles, but rather canoes and songs and circle games."
If your timing is just right, you’ll get to see it. You’ll have to listen carefully. You’ll have to find the right spot. You’ll have to be in the right place at the right time. But if all those stars align, you’ll get to see one of the most glorious sites that Parque summer camp has to offer: campers headed to the beach.
It’s best to get down there a little early, but you can’t rely on your watch, because these beach moments happen outside the constraints of time. They happen neither early nor late and they always happen; usually every day, twice a day. If the conditions are just right, what you’ll see is this: a mass of bodies streaming through the gate at the top of the beach. Colorful articles of clothing and towels and shoes fly through the air toward the base of the big tree that covers a small corner of the beach in blissful and glorious shade.
Then they’ll start running. At least one of the leaders will sprint to get ahead of them and stop them right at the edge of the water. They’ll bump into each other before naturally falling into one long line along the water’s edge. You can almost see the sweat dripping from their hairline, the twitchy taps of their feet that betray their eagerness to escape the often inescapable summer heat.
While a few of the leaders run into the water to create the barrier for their swim area, another leader makes sure the energy level is sufficient for the fun that’s about to happen. A secret: it never is. So the leader gets them pumped up. Usually it’s with a song, usually it involves shouting, and usually it requires rolling around in the sand. As soon as they’re released from the shoreline, they run screaming into the water. After that, they just play.
It’s so much fun to watch because it’s so gloriously simple. For leaders and campers both, this beach time is just play. There’s no structure or rigidness or planned activity. It’s just floating and kicking and chasing and jumping and spinning and splashing for the fun of it. When they tire of swimming, they play soccer on the beach or build sandcastles. They do it because it’s fun. You can see on the faces of the leaders and the campers that they just love it.
Watching these young people swim in this way is a good reminder that the best things in life are often simple: swimming in a river, watching a sunset, sharing a meal. It suggests that our lives are often over structured, over planned, and over programmed. It’s confirmation that we don’t need more stuff. It’s inspiration to make play something that’s easy. It’s affirmation from Parque that by valuing simplicity and play at Fowler, we’re not doing something crazy.
Because at Camp Fowler, we do value simplicity. We believe that the best things in life are not toys and bells and whistles, but rather canoes and songs and circle games. We believe that our world too often makes things more complicated than they need to be, more complicated than they are. And we believe that Jesus lived a life that embodied simplicity, so we strive to pursue simplicity as we strive to be more like him.
We think, that if you come to Fowler, like so many before you, you’ll be captured by this idea that life really is simple. We think it will infiltrate your life in the best possible way: you’ll value your phone less and your relationships more; you’ll be more oriented toward acceptance; you’ll care less about the peripheral things that the world tells you should matter because you’ll be a little more in touch with the things that really do matter.
So, come to Camp Fowler this summer to see what a simple life can be like, what a good life can be like. Be like the kids at Parque, for whom uninterrupted play in the Rio del Plata is the best thing they could ask for. Because they might just be right.
It’s been such a gift to come down to Parque and be reminded of what it feels like to experience camp for the very first time, to be reminded of what makes camp special, of what makes camp good.
You may remember Tía Rocio who visited Camp Fowler from Uruguay last summer: she’s bright, lively, speaks some seriously good english. She’s currently a university student in Montevideo, and we’ve spent a lot of time with her down here in Uruguay. She has been helpful in giving us some insight into what makes Parque, Parque.
People often describe Camp Fowler as a special place, a magical place, a home away from home; and Parque feels like that too. Rocio describes Parque as the place where “la corazón late más fuerte,” or “the place where your heart beats most strongly.” And it does feel that way here. Amidst the rich air, heavy with humidity, surrounded by green, and never more than 200 yards from the beach, life feels fuller, richer, sweeter.
And it’s more than just our physical surroundings. It’s the overall ethos of the place. You can feel it in the affectionate “abrazos” from the leaders. You can hear it as groups of campers and young adults run screaming into the river. You can smell it by the mud pit, which smells slightly of sour milk and laughter. You can taste it in the “milenesas” that all the campers say is their favorite food. You can see it as campers and leaders make yet another circle; so they can all be seen, so they can all be heard.
It’s been such a gift to come down to Parque and be reminded of what it feels like to experience camp for the very first time, to be reminded of what makes camp special, of what makes camp good. And what we’re realizing is that so much of what makes Parque, Parque and what makes Fowler, Fowler, is the community that these places facilitate, each in their own way.
The Parque community is ever changing; expanding and contracting as people come in and out. Many of their leaders are young, sometimes 15 or 16 years old, but they are shepherded by older leaders who still give up a week of their summer to work at camp. The kids are mostly local and regional, sometimes coming from the church and sometimes not. The support staff work at Parque as a full time job and mostly live in the nearby community of Colonia Valdense. But working amidst all of this is a palpable sense of community. There is a deep, underlying sense that the people here really care about each other, that they believe the best in each other, that they want people to show up exactly as they are. And they’ve made us feel that way too. We haven’t had to earn our spot here; they’ve taken us in and rooted us immediately into their community. They make us feel like we belong. We can only hope that people at Fowler feel that way too.
Because at Fowler, we believe that we are first and foremost a community; before we are a camp, before we are a workplace, before we are a retreat center, before we are a church. Because we have a deep belief that community is a necessary part of the lives we are trying to live as Christians. We look at the life that Jesus lived and see community reflected in it, so we have made it an important part of our identity at Fowler. We want to, need to, strive to, be a community that cares for one another, that loves one another, and that points one another to Christ. No one gets to just pass through. No one gets to just leave. No one gets to show up and not participate. Because being a community takes investment, takes courage, and it takes believing that it’s necessary for life abundant.
Because community really is a funny thing. It’s an integral part of our lives, but it is often frightening because it requires vulnerability. It feels like it's formed organically, but it also takes hard work. Community can make you feel comforted and challenged at the same time. And, the funny thing is, you often don’t realize the impact of a community on your life until that community is behind you. There are few things as mysteriously essential to our lives, as human beings and as Christians.
So, why should you come to Camp Fowler this summer? Because we’re your community. Or we want to be. We want to be the place where you can show up, wholly and completely, without out wondering whether you will be welcome. We want to be the place where you can arrive and expect to jump right in, participating in our play, in our laughter, in our work, in our worship, all for the glory of God. We want to be the place where you can laugh, question, wonder, weep, run, think, create, rest. We want to be the place where you feel seen and you feel known. Because that’s what we’re striving for, that’s what a community is.
"We shuffled out of the customs gate with our big bags and swollen ankles to be greeted by three jumping, cheerful Uruguayan amigos clutching tightly to their thermos of Mate. That’s what hospitality looks like."
At Parque summer camp on the southern coast of Uruguay, the sun is hot and the beach is picturesque. At Parque summer camp on the southern coast of Uruguay the barbecue is unparalleled, the staff are often barefoot, and there are brightly colored flowers at every turn. At Parque summer camp on the southern coast of Uruguay, “El Pan”—the bread, of body and of life—is at the center of the grace we say before every meal. At Parque summer camp on the southern coast of Uruguay, there’s always enough time. At Parque summer camp on the southern coast of Uruguay, all people are welcome. Even three tired Americans with limited Spanish.
We arrived in Uruguay after nearly 48 hours of travel; after missed flights and unexpected hotel stays, and hardly any sleep. We shuffled out of the customs gate with our big bags and swollen ankles to be greeted by three jumping, cheerful Uruguayan amigos clutching tightly to their thermos of Mate. That’s what hospitality looks like.
We arrived to Parque summer camp and were immediately served a big, hot meal of egg tarts and stuffed peppers and plenty of water to rehydrate our bodies. We were welcomed with big hugs by Blanca, the Kent Busman of Parque and kisses on the cheek from all the staff here. That’s what hospitality looks like.
The children and the staff here speak English with us even when it’s harder for them, even when it makes them vulnerable, even when it might make them feel stupid, that’s what hospitality looks like.
The staff offered to wash our sheets and clean our bathrooms and buy us food that is more familiar for us just to make us feel more at home, that’s what hospitality looks like.
We are three American Camp Staff from a crunchy hippie Jesus camp in the New York mountains and we’re trying to find our place in this Spanish-speaking, Evangelical Waldensian beach camp in Uruguay, but at each and every turn there are adults and youth and children who are making that easy. They hold our hands and invite us to sit with them and explain things to us time and time again. They make it clear that we’re wanted here, clear that we’re part of their community even though we have done nothing to earn such a place. That’s what hospitality looks like.
And that’s what Camp Fowler tries to practice too. It often feels like there aren’t very many places left in the world where true hospitality is practiced; where all people are truly welcome; where you don’t have to earn your place. Too many places, too many groups, too many communities require that you prove you’re enough before you can “get in”; you have to earn your right to belong. As Christians, we see this as unjust, unkind, and not in alignment with how Jesus lived.
So, as a Christian camp, we try to be hospitable. We try to be like the people at Parque: as soon as you get here, you are part of our community, no questions asked, whether you speak English or not, whether you like canoeing or not. We try to be like Jesus, who welcomed all people and fed them: the children, the hurting, the crooked, the broken. We do it because Jesus did it. We do it because having you here makes us better. We do it because it makes our community richer. We do it because we have a lot to learn from each other. We do it because it’s the right thing to do.
So, why should you come to Camp Fowler? Because, no matter who you are or where you come, no matter what language you speak or what foods you like, no matter your sexual orientation or your race, no matter your gender or your abilities, we want you here. We want you exactly as you are and we want you to bring your dreams and interests and skills and fears. We want to break bread with you and canoe with you and make sure you know that you’re a part of our community. All you have to do is show up.
"You'll experience life as it should be, life as it could be."
Why should you come to Camp Fowler? There are a million things vying for your attention, tempting you for your time, telling you how you can make your summer count: sport trainings, science camps, leadership workshops, volunteer opportunities, jobs, resume building, family vacations, summer school, studying. The list goes on. We know that Camp Fowler is is another one of those activities, another week of your summer filled, another chunk of change from your wallet. And we know what we’re stacked up against. If you come to Camp Fowler, we can’t promise that you will make the basketball team; we can’t promise you higher scores on the SAT; we can’t promise that you’ll get into college; we can’t promise that you’ll always be perfectly comfortable. We can’t promise you those things—and we don’t want to. Because, at Camp Fowler, we strongly, deeply, fervently believe that life is more than success, that who you are is more than what you have achieved, and that what we can do together is far more important than what you can do on your own.
So we can’t promise you what a lot of other summer opportunities can. But, if you come to Camp Fowler, we can promise you this: you will find adventure, rest, and wonder; you will meet strangers who are different from you and you will leave as friends; you will get to play with and sing with and laugh with adults who care deeply about you; you will experience the world as something much bigger than yourself; you will swim in lakes and paddle canoes and eat homemade bread and roast marshmallows and sing songs and look up at the stars; you’ll experience life as is should be, life as it could be; and we think you’ll leave changed. After a week at Fowler, you’ll leave a little more hopeful, a little more engaged, a little more connected this great big world. You’ll experience community, simplicity and caring for the world all in the context of being hospitable and open; to the experiences of others, to the beauty of the world, and to the still, small voice of God.
Over the next couple weeks we’ll be posting regularly to tell you more about why we think you should come to Camp Fowler. We want to tell you a little bit more about how we practice hospitality, how we engage in community, how we prioritize simplicity, and how we care for the world. We would love to have you join us in these practices.
So: Why should you come to Camp Fowler? Let us tell you.
Welcome to the new Camp Fowler Website! We hope that this big update of our online presence helps you understand more about who we are as a camp. Although we spend a lot of time in the outdoors away from technology, we recognize that we live in an internet-dependent world, and we know that there are wonderful parts about that. This is our attempt to stay up to speed.
That being said, if you notice anything that doesn't work, please let us know! There are a lot of pieces that make up this website and we may have missed a thing or two. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any comments or questions.
Stop by each week to learn about news, updates, and information about whats happening at Camp Fowler!
Thanks for being a part of our family!