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Most Accepted

“There isn’t a summer I don’t remember being at camp,” said Faith Goyne, “until 2020.”

Faith got her 15-year patch in 2019. “I was either a camper or in kids camp while my mom taught Campfirmation and my older brothers were in camp.” Faith remembers sitting on the steps beside the old pool at Lutheridge as a little girl wishing for the day, she too would be old enough to be a camper like her brothers.

“I feel like my whole life was leading up to being a counselor on summer staff,” she shared.

Faith was planning to return for another summer on staff as an Outdoor Adventure Program counselor in 2020. That means she would be taking campers out on the trails, teaching them, and leading them in backpacking, ropes courses, caving, and white-water activities.

“I remember waking up to the email that there would be no summer camp because of Covid,” she said. “I just sat there and cried. I cried for myself, but also for the other counselors for whom it would have been their first or last summer. I mostly cried for the campers who would be missing out on the most important week of their summer. Kids who really need camp.”

We asked Faith why she believed children needed camp and her response was so beautiful, we are going to include it here as she shared it.

“Camp is the place where children feel most accepted. It was the place where I felt most accepted. I always knew it was the one place where I did not have to pretend, and I always work to make my campers feel that way too. We all did. As a middle school camper, I knew I was different than the girls in my school. They were into makeup and sports. When I came to camp, the girls were from all over and liked all different things. We grew so close in just a week. In middle school, I remember asking myself if I would have been friends with them back home in school. Sadly, the answer was no. We would have been in different circles, different clubs. We had different interests. Camp gave me a chance to meet other kids that weren’t like me. As I got older, in high school, I realized that the kids that came to camp were there because they wanted to be there – not because a parent or pastor made them. They knew they would meet kids different from them, and that was part of the reason they choose, I choose, to go to camp. As a counselor, I watched girls in my cabins with completely different interests sitting at a craft table, chatting away, and making friendship bracelets for each other. One was into anime, another into sports, one acting, and one drawing. But they found common ground at camp. It was the same for me as a child.”

This past summer, we all missed out on this beautiful image of youth from various places and with different interests sitting at a craft table together making friendship bracelets for each other. At Lutheridge, Lutherock, Luther Springs, and Lutheranch, this is an image of our mission and work. We bring children, youth, and adults together to form faith and develop leaders through a Christ centered community. Despite not being able to gather during the pandemic, Faith and other camp friends leaned on their experiences at camp for hope and comfort. Faith has hopes of returning to camp again in 2021 and getting back to God’s work helping children feel accepted and building community despite differences.

Faith is a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Walhalla, South Carolina and attends Appalachian State University where she is majoring in biology and minoring in animal studies.