Guest Blogger & Site Director at Pilgrim Pines Camp and Conference Center in Southern California, Cynthia Diggs, writes:
Touching moments, I am always looking for touching moments that “pluck the stings of my heart”. We have groups that come, some for seven or eight day stretches. At the end of their stay, they pay their bills tell us “thank you”, quite often give me a hug, and we part ways. I go home knowing that we did our best to provide them with good food and a clean and safe environment in which to do their program. And that is fine, it is what we expect. But once in a while the “magic of camp” happens and a spiritual depth is reach that is almost impossible to explain, and must be experienced to fully understand. I guess it is those very rare moments and those deep bonds that have kept me in this life style for almost 30 years.
This last weekend we had two groups. One group was just finishing up an eight day stay, when a small group of about 30 arrived to share the first group’s last two days. It always concerns me that a small group can get lost in the shadow of a larger group that is well entrenched in their routine, so we go out of our way to make sure that doesn’t happen and that the smaller group’s needs are met with the highest of priorities. This small group had never been to Pilgrim Pines before. It seemed like the group leader and I had been working on the details of their stay for months, and even though we had never met, when I saw her, for some reason, I just opened my arms and we exchanged the hug of an old friendship. The weekend went on, the larger group finished their program and were on their way. They had had a great week. Then we were able to give our full attention our “small group” who were now our biggest group.
Sunday morning, I started up to my office to complete the paper work for the remaining group. I know sooner got to my office when the phone rang. John said the children wanted to sing me a song. Who can turn down a song, so I headed for the dining hall picking up James on the way. This retreat was a choir/family retreat, so it wasn’t just the children, it was everyone who wanted to sing us a song. Usually when groups sing us a song, we stand there and listen to the song, which is always beautiful, thank them and then we continue with our day. This was not the case with this group. First they asked US to sit down, made sure all the kitchen staff was seated also, and then began to blend their beautiful voices. They sang two beautiful hymns both in their own tongue and in English. It was just beautiful and tears filled our eyes as we were touched by the moment. When the singing ended, the group leader began to explain to us how blessed they had been by their experience, how touched and honored they were by the work we had done to make their stay successful. She told us how the Lord had blessed them by our service and how He had blessed us (the staff) with their gratitude for what we had done. Her expressions of thankfulness were interrupted by her efforts to hold back her tears. When she was finished, she turned to her group and told them to show their thankfulness. They came toward us and we them, and everyone hugged everyone thanking each other for the sharing of blessings, both serving and being served. One of those magic moments that happens so rarely, but one that will join my list of magic moments that will last in my heart for ever. I don’t think I have ever been so touched by a group.