By Carolyn Keefe
UPW Trekkers Director
There’s truly nothing quite like sitting around a campfire, is there? Something about the mesmerizing flickering flames seems to invite deep reflection and a warmhearted connection with all those who share the fire. I feel blessed that my job as UrbanTrekkers director involves so many “campfire moments,” and I’d like to share about two recent ones.
The first was the StreetLeader weekend trip to Camp Arrowhead in Lewes, Delaware. Seven StreetLeaders arrived to camp unnerved about having surrendered their phones (as is Trekker tradition) and apprehensive about sleeping in the woods. Our weekend at camp was marked by first experiences for many: first time sleeping in a cabin, first time kayaking, first time building a fire and cooking a meal over it.
The big “campfire moment” for that trip came on our last evening of the trip, after a rousing game of Zombie Tag. Still jittery with excitement about who zombified who, we settled around the campfire and started sharing trip highlights. Those who were initially apprehensive shared that they were now sad to leave. Many felt gratitude and pride in having accomplished something amazing for the first time, like building a fire. Both teens and adults shared that our weekend in the woods strengthened relationships that otherwise might have only been acquaintances. And no one said anything about missing their phone!
Another campfire moment came after our Trekker apple-picking trip. We first met up with Mr. Rob (our executive director) at Highland Orchards, where we scouted, taste-tested, and competed to pick a half-bushel of the biggest and most beautiful apples. It was also important to curate the perfect ratio of cooking apples and eating apples… because we would head straight to Mr. Rob’s house to cook and eat those apples! Mr. Rob, Mrs. Monica, and their son Luke had set up pots and pans over their fire pit, and we all pitched in to prepare applesauce, fried apples, apple crisp, and apple salad. Hot dogs were available to roast over the fire, and there was popcorn to be popped. Once again, gathered around the campfire, we shared observations and highlights from the day. Many of us appreciated the beautiful experience of all coming together — StreetLeaders, Academy students, the Prestowitzes, my own parents — to spend time over the shared tasks of peeling apples and stirring applesauce. As Mr. Rob remarked, even peeling a few apples together is a mechanism for developing relationships, initiating transformation, and building up the body of Christ!
Yes, the nature of my job is such that after a few trips, all of my clothes end up smelling like wood smoke… but the transformational conversations, connections, and lessons around the campfire are totally worth it. God is truly present amid the flames!