When our summer camps made the decision to close, Manidokan Director, Rev. Kirstin Shrom-Rhoads, and Assistant Director, Steve Lane, looked for ways to bring the spirit of summer camp to their season. One of these ways is the Manidokan “40 for 40 Challenge”. Steve and Kirstin challenged themselves physically to walk the 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland, in just 1 day! They are excited to raise money for Camp Manidokan as they go!
At the end of any summer camp week, most campers are excited about the physically challenging adventure activities that took them high into the trees, onto our regional creeks and rivers, and along the C&O Canal towpath or on other trails like the hike to Maryland Heights. Setting goals and overcoming physical/emotional obstacles creates space for personal and spiritual growth, awareness of leadership abilities, and what it means to work together as the body of Christ. One camper said, “If God believes in me, and my team believes in me, maybe I can begin to believe in myself more too!”. Kirstin and Steve are pretty physically active, strong bodied people, but this hike truly is a challenge for them. It has certainly pushed them as they took on continued elevation changes and cross-trained with some stretches of running and biking as well. It has given cause to great celbration as they increased training hikes to accomplish the distance of 30 miles on Friday, September 11th, the longest hike they will do before their 40-mile finale.
40 for 40 Hike is in:
Connection with Nature
Many deer, changing scenery which they familiarly nicknamed the “North Carolina” section of rhododendron, the “Maine” section of narrow rocky paths with thin scraggly pine, meadows adn fields, powerline paths and oh! The overlooks! Over 3 months of training they watched the changing seasons bring wine berries, poke berries, tall grasses, pawspaws, adn brightly colored fungi. They’ve shared trail spaces with deer, spider webs, turtles, rattlesnake, mushrooms, woodpecker and many more of God’s creatures.
Community with God and Others
Theologians and poets alike speak of the sacredness of meeting God while hiking the woods. this time of solitude has truly been a spiritual experience for our director pair. This is also a goal for us with campers. While attending a camp or retreat, we hope that campers learn and experience God’s love, not just through worship and study, but also in the beauty of creation, the stillness of the dawn, adn the vastness of the stars. We expect that while hiking on a trail, no matter the length, the still small voice of God is calling all of us to connect outwardly with creation, and to grow inwardly through reflection and prayer. Our rustic program provides even more intentional time for this kind of faith formation.
Building towards a future vision!
In January 2020, we unveiled our first ever adventure race fundraiser for Manidokan, scheduled for September. The Manidokan I-Kan 5K Obstacle Adventure Race was to begin raising funds for our Rustic Advcnture Area and Creation Care Hammock Village. We were heart-broken to lose both summer camp and this long-planned possibility for continued growth and vision. While we won’t let go of that idea for 2021, we have place this “Manidokan 40 for 40 Challenge” before our community to find 40 partners to donate at least $40 so that we might raise $3,200 towards the growth of this program area. Today, two weeks before our hike weekend, we have reached a donation amount of $2,200 with 20 donors who have shared generous personal gifts between $20 and $500. We want to thank all those that have given to date.