Camp and Retreat E-News: Slow Down, Be still, and Open Yourself to Wonder

February 13, 2019

Like "Camp & Retreat Ministries" on Facebook!

Reflections on values with Camp & Retreat Ministries

Slow Down, Be still, and Open Yourself to Wonder

 Value 1: Wonder

By Peggy Lovegren, Director at Wallowa Lake Camp

Wonder- a feeling of surprise, mingled with admiration caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar or inexplicable. Hmm… is wonder actually important?
It is said that wonder is the start of knowledge and creativity that helps us to understand life. Wonder makes us realize that we have a purpose and are part of something bigger. It certainly seems important to me!
Dr. Anthony DeBenedet defines wonder as “an emotion often expressed in the presence of something greater than yourself,” wanted to know why certain patients who had experienced trauma managed to stay more positive than others. He discovered that these individuals displayed five playful behaviors that helped them live better lives; imagination, sociability, humor, spontaneity and wonder! Doctors have found that feelings of awe, or wonder, actually lower markers of inflammation and stress, which we know has all kinds of health benefits.
Dr DeBenedet has also stated that “wonder is a really, really hard place to get as an adult. It requires us to slow down, breathe deeply, be there, in the present, in the moment, to take time to look around.”
So, how do our camps encourage “wonder?” How do we remind people to be in awe, to marvel, and to be amazed and astonished? We offer safe spaces to slow down, focus and relax; to be in nature and contemplate. You can leave the chores, grocery shopping, and cooking to us as you take the time to experience wonder.
Many of our program camps have intentional time and opportunities to experience “wonder.” Youth are free from distractions of technology and social media, so they get to completely take in these spaces amongst some of the most gorgeous nature settings in the world! We provide a dark sky full of stars and close encounters with wildlife: chattering squirrels, grazing deer, hawk moths, hummingbirds, butterflies, baby bunnies and an occasional wild gobbling turkey are just some of the creatures to visit camp.
If you are still pondering “how do I feel wonder?” Come sit by the creek trickling through camp and watch. Learn by observing children staring wide-eyed at shiny rocks and birds as they drink and play. See campers float sticks, build dams, scoop water and just play, completely fascinated!
Sit very still and watch. I guarantee you will be filled with wonder!

© 2014 Camp and Retreat Ministries:

A partnership between The Oregon-Idaho Conference of The United Methodist Church
and The Episcopal Diocese of Oregon