Outdoor School is an event that our Minnesota schools have just adopted this past school year. It is an event opened to our MN Church Schools for grades 5 through 8th. Since our first year was successful, our Superintendent of our schools, Connie McCormick, decided to make it a yearly event. This was the second year Outdoor School was planned and implemented at North Star Camp with much work and effort.
This year’s Outdoor School theme “One Time Long Ago in Galilee…” was chosen for our students to experience how the original Galilean Peter, a fisherman trained by Jesus, told personal experiences from his point of view. We also thought that the best way to experience Galilean fishing is take off the sneakers and step into the sandals of Peter where all the students can imagine and say, “I was there!” by reliving Peter’s story with him.
Our superintendent of schools organized this year’s Outdoor School exquisitely by asking her husband, Sherman McCormick, to put on Peter’s sandals. He was not only our speaker this week but he was representing and delivering his message through the personification of Peter, one of Jesus’ most stubborn servants, but who became the strongest in faith. Elder McCormick did a beautiful job communicating many popular and significant stories as Peter, who witnessed them when he walked with Jesus.
Many of us are not even aware of the sacrifice and energy it takes to make Outdoor School happen. Many people, beginning with our Superintendent and the MN Conference, go out of their way to make this event a success.
This event takes months in planning and organizing – it begins with a simple inspired thought, a theme, a location where we can witness for the Lord and emulate the character of Jesus. Why we do it? Because educators have been called to witness to a special kind of crowd, “children.”
There is so much one can say about what happens and how it all comes together here at North Star Camp and many things that needs to get done before our children and teachers get to go to enjoy Outdoor School. Many parents sacrifice money for their children to attend, many teachers have a hard time finding enough chaperones to help with the kids, many parents sacrifice their time, and let’s not forget about those spouses and families we leave behind for us to be here. Many volunteer hours go unnoticed by individuals; at the Conference, at North Star Camp who works in the kitchen, prepare the campsite, clean cabins and many other things that I cannot even imagine.
Teachers become parents not chaperones; we are monitoring our students as our children 24 hours a day, 4 days in the week. We take care of their sleep, their hygiene, we make sure they get to their respective areas on time, we worship with them before we go to bed, and so much more. Many actions go unnoticed but we do it because we were “called” by God to witness to these children. We even heal broken hearts – somehow we become the confidents of family problems and we are needed for advice and prayer. Outdoor School is a time where bonding occurs between students and teachers and our true love for our careers becomes a calling and not a job. We all keep on going out of our way to make one more Outdoor School event a success.
One special sacrifice does come to mind and I believe is worth mentioning – the building of our main prop; the boat representing many stories told during our worship time. We all came to the point and appreciated this boat, which made the stories told by Elder McCormick come to life. This boat was built by one of our hard working volunteers, Mark Wetterling. He gave a new meaning to the phrase going out of our way. He worked on his day off and then forfeited his sleep the next day so it would be ready on time for our first evening worship. The craftsmanship of this boat gave a new meaning to the word “dedication” and giving our best to God. This boat not only helped portray the stories told during our worship time, but it was a representation of “going out of our way” for this event to take place.
This article is dedicated to those individuals who have made possible for Outdoor School to become a success these past two years and hopefully for years to come. Unfortunately, not everyone can be mentioned, but it is those unsung heroes who have “gone out of their way”, who have humbly accepted the challenge and will continue to accept the challenge to be witnesses to these children. It is those unsung heroes who will return home to their families and share their personal experiences and perhaps enjoyed it so much that when the next year comes, they will listen to God’s voice and come forward to ask, “How can I help?” Maybe, just maybe, they will also “go out of their way” as Jesus did for us in the Sea of Galilee.
Elizabeth Rodriguez, Capital City Adventist Christian School Principal
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