Impact Stories

A Different Kind of Hometown

Molly shares her first experiences at camp and what it feels like to be accepted.

Molly King remembers hearing the stories of camp from her older sibling at a very young age. “They would talk about camp stories, share the pictures from a disposable camera, and sing the camp songs on the way home,” So she knew all about camp before she even got to go. The first year she got to go was 4th grade, at our Tween Camp, and she says she was so excited that she spent the whole time telling her friend (who had never been to camp) all the song lyrics and graces and stories. She was determined the two of them were going to be “on the ‘in!'” 

With all those stories, instantly it felt like home, even though it was new to her. “I went and made a bird’s nest. It was a treat bird’s nest made of the sesame noodles. I don’t know why that was a highlight but that was my first craft at camp!” But what really made it special is that while she moved 3-4 more times in her school career, camp was always a place to return to. “It goes back to being a pastor’s kid, going from church to church, every three to four years.” In school all the other students had friends who they had known since kindergarten. Moly didn’t have that in her day to day life, but camp filled that for her. Every year she got to see the same kids, the same friends, that she had been growing up with. “At the end of the week time stops…you get back to camp and even fi you’ve changed it was completely normal. The best part is that it was like home. I never really had a hometown moving so much, so that was my unique perspective at camp.” 

Later in life even when she wasn’t at camp on a regular basis, “I always would go to either of the crosses and for some reason that’s where I felt God the most. It is the most peace. You don’t even hear cars. And it is such a special space.” Every year she gains more appreciation as an adult that people had the forethought to set this space aside and keep it such a sacred, special place.

Molly found that unique feeling at camp was one she wanted to plant in the churches, too. She became a deaconess in the United Methodist Church partly because she experienced such a difference between camp and church. “Whenever I went to formal, adult, events, I would bring the camp energy.” She had found so much acceptance of difference at camp, she had the goal of bringing that into the church as a whole. “One of the things the church struggles with is all our differences. But we forget our main goal which is to love and be loved.” When she became a deaconess she wanted everyone to have that feeling of not being inferior or too different for the church. 

For many of our young people, especially, camp is able to show them they are welcomed by God, and that can lead to a greater connection to the church, as well. “You can be fat, skinny, have long hair, short hair, be disabled, or just walk around all day in a sleeping bag and camp just happens around and for you. None of those things matter. In the church we forget we are all human and we hold ourselves as we do out in the world. At camp we don’t have to be what the world expects, we can be what we need to be. Sometimes that is quiet and reflective, sometimes it is screaming the dark.”

Today Molly tries to continue to bring that acceptance of differences, humanity, and kindness to those around her in other ways. Working with those with developmental differences, serving as a summer cook back at camp, or as an administrator in health care, she strives to accept people for where they are, instead of where we may want them to be.