Peace, Beauty, Relationships: Teenage reflections on the MidWest Faculty Ministry Conference

Sunset at Cedar Campus

Sunset at Cedar Campus

It’s about time for a follow-up to The End of Higher Ed — Update #1 and what a joy to have one of my talented teenage daughters looking for the opportunity 🙂 If you have a story to share about one of this summer’s faculty conferences, please be in touch with me. Thank-you! ~ Thomas B. Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network 

Peace and Beauty . . .

The air grew crisp and it was so incredibly quiet… It wasn’t until we arrived at the lake that we realized it may not be the city at all that seemed so quiet, but the reality that 5 full of life kids were not with us. Either way, we missed our kids but relished in the calm and tranquil. We walked out in the waters. We felt the sand under our feet. We embraced the quiet and the beauty. I could feel the weight of 5 long, stressful weeks lift… I felt alive. Inspired. Refreshed. In awe. Captivated…  I’ve never experienced water so calm…  It was like glass for as far as my eyes could see…until we stepped in and caused ripples… The quietness demanded attention in a way different from the thundering of towering waves hitting sandy beaches…Coming out of a period of treading water and trying to stay above the waves made me stop and rest in a new way in the calm waters. — Ashley Campbell, Don’t Forget You Love to Swim (Under the Sycamore, 9/15/2014)

This quote from Ashley Campbell from her blog, Under the Sycamore, describes a night at InterVarsity Cedar Campus almost perfectly.  I don’t have five kids, a husband, and have never been to Great Salt Lake, but I still related to this.  I had felt that peace and beauty.  The creation just standing still and everything stopping.  In that moment, I didn’t think about the daunting first day as a freshman in high school.  I didn’t think about my friend’s problems, I didn’t even think about my imperfections.  All I did was praise God.  Over and over again, I remember saying, “Thank God.  Amen.”  I remember thinking of song lyrics that described my feelings.

Cedar Campus

Cedar Campus

First times . . .

The last time I was at InterVarsity Cedar Campus I was six years old.  I don’t remember every detail or everything I did, however, many memories came back when I was there.  I realized it was a place of firsts:

  • First time I learned how to build sand dribble castles.
  • First time I learned the song Trading My Sorrow (with motions and sound effects).
  • First time I had hiked (though I don’t remember it; there are pictures).
  • First time I went on a ride on a speed boat.
  • First time I made my own friends to come back to every year.
  • And now, first time I really felt the peace that comes with knowing God’s love is all around.

Children . . .

Ringing the Cedar Campus Bell

It takes a team to ring the meal time bell . . .

I wasn’t with the younger children in their classes, but I know my sisters would not stop talking about it!  The moments I spent on the same beach with them, though, I saw joy in their eyes.  They sparkled and giggled and lived.  Whether it was 2 year old boys playing in the water together, or sandcastle competitions, I saw them alive.  It wasn’t that long ago I was their age anyways!

Teens . . .

Teens enjoying Cedar Campus

Teens hanging out

My group. Terezia, Tyrese, Kirsten, Hayley (my twin sister), and I.  Five teenagers to 3 incredible counselors: Christine, Justin, and Corrie.  This handful of people is unique, make me laugh so hard, and I wish I could see them again!  I love them all so much!  We had some much fun together!  Tyrese was good at EVERY sport, Terezia asked tons of great questions that challenged me, and Kirsten was kind and very welcoming.  These seven people made the difference in my week.  A little on my twin: she makes me laugh so much and I could not have gone without her!  As a group, we went hiking, kayaking, drank tea and juice, played countless rounds of Nukem, and explored what it means to be anchored in Christ and have Him be our roots.  There was not a better mash of characters I could have asked for!

Staff . . .

Ellen and Amy

Ellen and a younger sister with Amy 🙂

Along with my counselors and the other childcare workers, there were also other staff members.  They basically made everything possible.  I would give them credit for everything they did, but I wouldn’t come close to all that they did for me and the other families.  They seemed to always be willing to serve, were always helpful and offered many smiles and fun activities.  I am so thankful for the time I got to spend with them.  From working on puzzles to sunrise kayaking, they were cheerful and ready.

Faculty . . .

I’m not a scholar.  I’m not a professor.  I’m not even a high school graduate (YET)!  But, I am human, just like the faculty who attended Cedar Campus.  I know that people need vacations.  Personally, I like vacationing at a camp as opposed to a cruise or trip to a major tourist attraction.  Like Ashley mentioned at the beginning of this post:

“I could feel the weight of 5 long, stressful weeks lift. I held my camera in my hands and saw beauty again. I felt alive. Inspired. Refreshed. In awe. Captivated.”

She felt renewed.  That’s something I pray that the faculty members at Cedar received.  Renewal and feeling alive again, whether they knew they needed it or not.

Ellen and Terry at Cedar Campus

Ellen and Terry enjoying a conversation

One couple specifically, Terry and Mary Gustafson, sat with our family at various meals and just talked with all of us.  Not just my parents, but all of us kids.  They learned our names and found out who we were as people.  They discussed our favorite things and took the time to listen to us.  Their interest in us made it easier to feel connected to all the adults in higher education.  I talked with other parents too, and all seemed interested in my opinions about the camp, what I want to do with my life and any parenting advice I had.  I saw them alive and having fun and being creative.  I did not attend the faculty sessions, but I saw them with their children and with each other and I saw evidence that they are loved, treasured, cherished, and special by God.

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Ellen Grosh

This fall I entered Donegal High School. I enjoy 24/7 reading, summer camp, fall weather, performing in school productions (plays/musicals), playing instruments (guitar, ukulele, violin), participating in youth activities at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church, everything about art (Thank-you Madeleine L'Engle!), and so much more that it can't be put in a paragraph. To God be the glory!

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    jonstolpe commented on September 29, 2014 Reply

    So great to read your daughter’s words, Tom. It is such an encouragement to see our children rising up in preparation to carry the torch for Christ.

    • Tom Grosh IV commented on September 29, 2014 Reply

      Thank-you for the word of encouragement, Jon. What a privilege to serve the LORD as a parent during such a time as this. . . . Daily I am humbled by the opportunity, one which I never truly expected and as such never envisioned — let alone several times over 🙂 What a humbling learning experience and today was a particularly big one. Praying God’s rich blessing upon your family. To God be the glory!

    Kelly commented on October 1, 2014 Reply

    Awesome post Ellen! Thanks for the reminder to take breaks, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed and feeling like we are treading water.

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