One of the things I love about camp is the way it both stays the same and is always changing.
I grew up in Indiana attending the UCC camp, Merom Conference Center - now called Merom Camp and Retreat Center - and was able to drive through Merom this past September. On my walk through camp, all the buildings remained the same. The pre-Civil War College Hall sits in the middle of camp almost a dozen stories high at the top. The chapel and basketball court are in its shadow. I found the cabins I had stayed in over my decade at Merom. I reminisced that at some point, I had stayed in all 6 of the “boys” cabins during summer camp, and all of the heated cabins during fall and spring retreats.
Merom Camp & Retreat Center - Merom, Indiana
So much was so familiar.
And yet, the look of camp was different. All of the buildings, except for college hall, have been brightly painted. Instead of the muted darker color on the cinder block military style bunkhouses that I remember, there are bright almost neon colors and even some beautiful murals painted on all the buildings.
That is a big change. And yet it is not. The heart of the ministry has not changed.
The heart of Silver Lake has not changed.
A part of the name has changed to better reflect the ministry we do today and, really, have always done. "Conference" does not mean to the wider world what it did to our forebears in 1957. We are a space for campers to be welcomed, loved, grow, worship, make friends, craft, disciple, sing, eat, climb, and swim. To be transformed in God’s love. All of that continues today.
And, for 9 months of the year, we are a place of refuge, renewal, growth, and being refreshed for adults and youth to be on retreat. To grow as a community. To plan the year. To deepen in their faith. To be immersed in extravagant hospitality. That is what you do on retreat and that is what we do at Silver Lake late August through May.
Silver Lake, like all Outdoor Ministry, continues to evolve, grow, and transform as we follow the Spirit and faithfully journey with our retreat guests. I hope this conversation will spur you to think about how you can be newly or renewed in your engagement at Silver Lake as a camper, volunteer, or by bringing a new retreat group of your own to Silver Lake.
I look forward to seeing you at the Lake.
Learn more about some of Silver Lake's amazing transformation throughout the years:
- Watch the original fundraiser film that was created to engage the historic Connecticut Conference, UCC in buying the property that is now Silver Lake - video 11:48 in length
- Read articles on Silver Lake history