My wife, Megan, and I ran an online camp over the Winter holidays called ‘Create Camp’.
Megan is an author, illustrator and artist with a passion to connect people to God, the natural world and themselves through art.
Over the three days of the camp, we met online with a small group of young people and leaders to have fun, learn new art techniques, express ourselves through art and reflect on the deeper things of life. In our last session, we asked everyone to show us their art journals and share something about the pieces that were special to them. I was blown away by the creativity of both our campers and leaders and impressed by the depth of their personal reflections.
The idea behind Create Camp is simple…
If we pay attention to our own hearts and to the world around us, we just might discover that there is more going on than we first thought.
Here are some things we learned over our three days together:
Megan taught us to stop and pay attention to the natural world around us. She encouraged us to observe the shape, colour, texture and shades of simple natural objects and showed us how to reproduce those things with charcoal and water colours. We were sent out into our local habitats to take notice of it and record, in an arty way, what we found there. We were reminded that nature is the art of God, and more than that, that the good news of God is not just written down in the Bible, but in the trees, flowers, clouds and stars.
We added the use of Condy’s crystals, lemon juice and collage to our suite of art techniques. Megan encouraged us to consider the beauty and generosity of nature by reflecting on the endless supply of lemon trees available to us from the seeds of just one lemon. We were reminded of a time when Jesus invited us to consider the ‘lilies of the field’ and the ‘birds of the air’ so that we might understand God’s love, care and provision for us.
Megan informed us that in nature, food scraps can be transformed into healthy, rich soil through the natural process of composting. She also taught us that there are no mistakes in art; that every splotch or smear can be redeemed to create new, beautiful, unexpected artworks. These examples prompted us to reflect on God as ‘The Great Recycler’ who doesn’t waste any of our experiences, struggles, failings or mistakes. When we trust God, they can be transformed into beautiful, healthy soil, ready to grow great things in our lives.
On this last day, Megan also taught us how to bind our art pieces together into an art journal. We brought together our finished pieces, our unfinished pieces and even some blank pages. The invitation here was to view our lives as a work-in-progress art journal that includes some beautiful pieces, some not so beautiful pieces (that are not finished with yet), and some pieces not yet begun. The question was posed to us, “What would your life look like if you handed it over to God?”
Well, that’s some of the lessons we learned at Create Camp. We hope that maybe there is something in there for you today…
About the author…
Steve has over 30 years experience in school, community and church-based youth work. He is currently working as the Training & Development Manager at SU QLD, overseeing teams that deliver training and produce resources for SU QLD staff and volunteers. He holds post-graduate qualifications in Social Work, Politics & Government, and Christian Studies.