When does a camp start?
Some people think a camp starts when you register at the venue. This was not only untrue because we couldn’t register on the first day due to technical reasons but also because all camps start with leaving for camp. If I wanted to nitpick some more, I’d even say that we could prepare for the camp in advance via collecting sponsors for the fundraising run – something I’ll touch upon in more detail later – but that did not classify as camp vibes yet. I’d like to share with you why it’s a great thing to participate in Mekdsz camps, more specifically how I experienced this one – I love coming to these camps as they are all special in their own way.
Levi stopped in front of our house with his small Suzuki. His baggage had already been packed in the trunk, and after my bags joined the party, we were scratching our heads over how to squeeze in two more people’s stuff. The car was supposed to be fit to carry 5 persons. In the end, we decided to lean on our faith and take off as we knew that for God, there is no such thing as impossible.
We were meeting Dóri and Hanga, our companions for the ride. We soon reached the conclusion that the next time we should prepare ahead and make sure a logistics expert accompanies each car – or at least a logistics student who can then participate in the Mekdsz camp. 😁 About five full minutes after taking off there was a debate whether to take a bathroom break there and then or to stop at a gas station when need arises to lose less time. After losing enough time debating that would have been enough to perform the debated actions, we decided to leave instead. We started things off with chugging down Topjoy, a fruit drink, to lay the foundations for a journey in amicable spirits, then after a round of introductions we went on to what service we would perform in the camp, what topics we had prepared – which was public information, of course –, our feelings about our student groups, our plans for the next semester… and the next thing we knew was that we’d already arrived in Somogydöröcske, ready for camp, ready to serve.
We were among the first to arrive. As more and more people trickled in, there were more and more unknown faces and know faces as well. I was happy for both groups. It was good to see people I had only spent one or two camps together, but it was also good to see new faces as it meant that Mekdsz had not become a closed community but we had been making progress with our goal, which is to help people learn about the Gospel at the universities. While we were waiting for something meaningful to happen, we were playing, which was sort of an appetizer for the introductory games as there were several new faces already.
I participated in the camp as the leader of one of the small discussion groups participants had been assigned to. On day one, we had 30 minutes to get to know the others in our group. Although we stopped well over the end of the assigned half an hour, I still did not feel we had enough time to cover everything we wanted to talk about. However, everyone was exhausted (except for the group leaders, of course). 😊
Good times, bad times
If I wanted to recall every event in the camp in detail, I might have written a thesis about it and replace my current one in progress with it. However, convincing my professor that this indeed is about metallography would be rather unfeasible, even if there is no such thing as impossible for God.😁
On a more serious note, it would be difficult to say which event was the best; it’s simpler to offer a short reflection on each of them.
- Plenary session: I liked the humorous approach. There have been memorable moments, for example when the speaker recalled the story of Joseph with a small jab to the wives who were “looking at the scorecard” all the time regarding the number of their male offspring compared to their competitors, that is, the other wives. Or when his wife told Joseph that she had packed up the kid and sat on him. 🤣 I know that wasn’t the most important part of the presentation, I still found it memorable. If only my memory was this sharp when it comes to preparing for my exams… 😁
- Workshops: I went to Brigi’s workshop, where the main takeaway was that our lives are determined by three things: our environment, our genetics, and ourselves. Because you can decide to do something about what your genetics and environment predisposes you to do. Another interesting moment for me was when someone raised the question whether schizophrenic people hearing cursing sounds could be attributed to demonic possession. The workshop’s timeframe did not allow discussing this topic but many of us remained afterwards to talk about this issue or just listen to arguments and counterarguments.
- Grill a Christian: There were a lot of questions, not much time and the chairs were uncomfortable. I’d had some experience with this format beforehand, from the previous Mekdsz camp and also at an another event. Anyway, it was good to hear how a certain topic could be approached from different angles. For me, the most memorable moment was here the first funny answer to the question “Is a Christian allowed to make perverted jokes?”. “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To the perverts, I became like a pervert.” 😆
- Roundtable discussions: The questions were simply amazing! I could not stop telling Gabi on the spot and at the afterparty that THE QUESTIONS WERE AMAZING! Let me say it again: the questions were amazing! We had 15 minutes per question, but we could’ve talked about each of them for hours. Time was the limiting factor, but I took the questions sheet and talked about these questions with others afterwards. Have I mentioned that the questions were amazing? 😁
- Hike: It was just right. On Thursday, we felt ready for some meaningful exercise after all that sitting (I know some people used to go for a run at 7 a.m. but most of us weren’t masochists). It wasn’t too much either, we did not become walking dead by the end. It was just enough. We walked in pairs; I enjoyed our conversation with my partner very much. It was interesting that as a leader of one of the discussion groups I knew beforehand that the one of the pair who had decided to take on two backpacks would have to complete the hike without the pair switching. But I couldn’t share this information. I thought the most fair approach was to ask my partner whether he’d like to carry the backpacks in the first half of the trip or the second. This way, I would not use my knowledge to my benefit. He ended up going for the first half, so he got the short end of the stick. To my credit, I asked him several times, making sure he had time to reconsider.
I enjoyed this part very much in last year’s camp already. The genius loci
somehow implied we had come here to be in silence. We reduced communication
with each other and focused on our connection to God. Or we were just enjoying
the silence. It was a bit surreal to eat lunch in silence, only listening to
the clinks of the spoons on porcelain without the usual murmur, but this shade
of surreal was not bad by any means. It was only unusual. It was interesting to
experience that I, who is known to like talking quite a bit, wish I could
experience this again. Of course this does not mean that I’ve finally come to
cherish being silent while everyone else is talking, but that I feel I want to
go back to experiencing silence in its completeness. Without talking, social
media and thinking about my problems. Only silence.
[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkcRMU2Tq7k ]
- FUNDRAISING RUN: Maybe the best moment of the camp was the start of the COMPETITION OF THE RIGHTEOUS, i.e. the Dikiaiathlon. I had started collecting sponsors weeks before. Wherever I was, I mentioned this charity run as I knew the donations for this creative fundraising would be used for a good cause. It was great to hear how much money we collected in theory, we hope that this amount will manifest itself on our bank account in real life. Speaking of fundraising: if you’re reading this article, don’t forget to mention that you serve in Mekdsz to your congregation! Don’t forget that this is a mission, as Mekdsz is a missionary organization, and if your congregation supports you financially it means that you are at university as the extension of their mission and they contribute to building the Kingdom of Christ. If you haven’t considered yourself a missionary, think again! Serving in a missionary organization, you are technically a missioner. Of course, praying for us is still game, but if you can afford to support us financially, either as an individual or an organization, it would be great help to be much more effective in our service. You would support our service not only with regards to a certain occasion, but on all days at university, by you, with you.
- Volunteer work: I took on two different responsibilities: I was a volunteer at the stand of the Harmat Publishing Foundation and lead a discussion group alongside Lili. Due to our discussion group, Harmat got a bit less attention but I really enjoyed being able to recommend books; I even sold one or two. I also had a great conversation while standing behind the books. 😊 And I really enjoyed leading a discussion group. This was the sixth camp I participated in this summer, and I wanted to integrate my earlier experiences from the previous camps which I managed maybe too well. We basically never managed to remain within the timeframe but I got some positive feedback, and not only from my own discussion group. 😁 We tried to be creative and incorporated at least two games in each the sessions. On one occasion, we made rum balls; on another, we grilled marshmallows. Although the rain fell, we made things work: we grilled them with toothpicks and candles! We had a host of other ideas, but had to cut back on games severely. When we broke up the discussion group to three groups of three, I also found that we had to breeze through the topics at breakneck speed. To remedy the situation, we came up with the idea of 20 minute conversations (or more precisely, we adapted the idea to the camp). It meant that the members of the discussion group should talk to every other member at least once for 20 minutes. I think I managed to talk to everyone except one person. According to what I’ve seen, this idea was implemented wholeheartedly not only by us, group leaders, but the group members, too. We successfully put into practice the idea that “the more effort you make, the more you’ll be able to get out of something”. I am grateful for our group and all its members. I hope I’ll see them all again in the Winter Camp, even if we won’t be sorted into the same discussion group! 😊
Day 7, the trip back home
Saying goodbye is almost the most difficult thing. I couldn’t have been more cliché even if I wanted to. We were saying goodbye to the discussion group that would probably never come together like this. We were saying goodbye to all our friends we hadn’t seen in a while, whom we’d probably only meet in the next camp. We were saying goodbye to new friends whom we’d just met. We were saying goodbye to the venue, to its environment, already with a touch of nostalgia. During Communion, we already knew something was over, again. By that time, we almost knew the schedule of the camp by heart. We were looking at bus time-tables, speaking to our drivers, getting our baggage packed alongside our memories and experiences, as we were looking forward to the closing round of sharing experiences. Which did not happen. It is, what it is. We had to hurry, the bus was already almost there. Maybe next time. The week felt somewhat unconcluded without this closing round. Noone stood up to try to impress some girls for the last time. Maybe that would’ve been the crowning moment of the camp. Winter Camp will make this right, I’m sure.
If you thought this will end on a somewhat melancholic tone, you were wrong. Sorry. Because as a camp does not start with the registration, it does not end with leaving the venue, either. One last get-together was still waiting to happen. This get-together was something like a transition. We were not in Somogydöröcske any more and we couln’t all come, but we were still together in the same spirit as a couple of weeks back. We could make up for the closing round, play some more and talk some more. It was a nice closure to this great camp!