Camp and Retreat E-News:Discover How Executive Director Todd Bartlett Experiences Wonder at Camp

January 09, 2019

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Reflections on values with Camp & Retreat Ministries

Discover How Executive Director Todd Bartlett Experiences Wonder at Camp

 Value 1: Wonder

By Todd Bartlett: Executive Director of Camp & Retreat Ministries

This week we begin our year-long journey on values by exploring Wonder. Part of what I believe the directors and I sensed is that there is so much that has been explained about our world that there is little space left to encounter wonder. Another element of wonder is to get lost in connecting with something outside of, or bigger than, ourselves while at the same time we experience a deep connection to it.

As I thought about wonder, one of the experiences that I remembered was that of snorkeling in a lake in Northern Minnesota at a church camp. It was a warm sunny day; the water was chilly and incredibly clear. Two of us from the Red Wing, MN United Methodist Church, were sharing this snorkeling experience. More so than the partner, what I remember is seeing a completely new world under the water. Part of the wonder was in the realization that this plastic mask, creating an air pocket, allowed me to see clearly under water. At this point, I had been swimming for many years without goggles, which meant that my vision was always blurry under the water. As the rest of the world disappeared, I saw things that fascinated me and allowed me to experience wonder.

There have been other experiences of wonder along the way, each showing up as a surprise to me, and each leaving its mark on my life. Many of them have been experienced through interaction with God’s creation, including people. Each instance has required time and space to take them in, recognizing the magnitude of the experience and moment. These instances also involved learning something about myself and my relationship to God’s world.
As I continue to experience wonder in my life, I also try to record it by taking photos of the things which catch my eye or take my breath away. As the director at the Collins Retreat Center I was able to experience wonder throughout each year. Two seasons brought powerful encounters with wonder for me: spring and fall. In the spring the many flowers that bloomed always led me to experience wonder. It was the blooming of the Trillium that touched me most deeply. Fall brought wonder to me every year as I anticipated and then witnessed Coho salmon spawning in Deep Creek (see video). May your reflection on wonder bring to mind memories of those moments in your life and may you find practices that allow you to encounter wonder at our sites and wherever you find yourself. May you also find ways to share wonder with others.
 See you around the campfire soon,

Trillium found at Collins. Photo: Todd Bartlett                                                    Coho salmon found at Collins

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