You Need Community. And We Do Too.
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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, to 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, to 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. 

Fowler Webmaster
You Deserve to Know What It’s Like to Belong
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"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. 

Fowler Webmaster
Why You Should Come to Camp Fowler This Summer
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"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. 

Fowler Webmaster
New Website!

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 campfowler@rca.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!

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