Just a couple of weekends ago, a pile of The Dale community members loaded into a school bus and began the trek to Camp Koinonia, a picturesque spot just outside of Parry Sound. I have to admit, I was a little anxious, partially because whenever you get together a group as diverse as us, things can get unpredictable. Of course that which makes me nervous is more often than not, that which makes for the best time. And this weekend can truly be described as one of those “best times”.

People went canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. Some braved the water directly. Others wandered in the woods. Many fished off the dock, determined to get at least a nibble. We sang, talked about the gifts we bring to the community and made art. Surprisingly epic games of ping-pong took place. Kids and adults played together. A fire was going in the great big stone fireplace ALL weekend. We ate a lot of food. We shared communion. One person (who is without a home) took multiple hot showers because he could.

One of the most precious moments for me happened around the very grand campfire that a few people helped build.  We had already been enjoying s’mores and singing, when someone shared what they were grateful for about the weekend and extended the invitation for others to do the same. The teenager amongst us spoke of being able to truly socialize, grateful for how non-judgemental everyone was. Others were relishing not having to listen to sirens while being able to see the stars. Some felt clear-headed for the first time in a long time. One said, “I never get to do this kind of thing. I’m usually alone. I just like being with all of you and listening to you talk”. It went on and on. I don’t know if anybody saw me, but it all just made me weep. Tears not born of sadness, but of gladness and gratitude.

What became evident from the moment we stepped off that big yellow bus, was that this group intended to take care of each other. People helped one another up and down the hill that is Koinonia, get warm drinks, do dishes, learn new board games and how to use a pitching wedge, take pictures and even roast, not torch a marshmallow. Admittedly, there were a few obstacles along the way: some missed the bus and didn’t get to come, some found the hill a little too challenging, some wanted to have more (or fewer) to a cabin. We’ll work on those things. In the big scheme of things though, these issues were small. I actually promise I’m not embellishing the overall feel of the weekend. It really was all this.

You’ll just have to join us next time.