From Beanie Weenie Day to Eucharist in a 100 Year Old Outdoor Chapel
Summer Programs at Camp Noel Porter Offer Unforgettable Experiences for Youth
from the Camp Noel Porter Board of Directors
Camp Noel Porter, located in Tahoe City and owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, is busy with activity for most of the summer as lasting memories are created for the youth who participate in the camp’s summer programs.
The youth summer camp experience begins with drop-off. Parents enjoy hospitality in a shaded area of the camp, as campers move into their tents. Once the camp bell rings, camp gets underway with an ice-breaker and then a spaghetti dinner, followed by games, campfire, and the first night away from home. “God is Good?” asks the Rev. Jenni Liem, Executive Director of the camp. A chorus of campers replies “All the time!” “All the time?” the Rev. Jenni asks. Campers respond “God is good!” This is the Camp Noel Porter method of calling campers to attention.
The Camp Noel Porter summer program has its roots in years of history and its traditions are passed down by a strong following of alumni who work hard at camp events to share the special traditions of the camp, such as the Monday night game of “Capture the Flag” that goes back at least 30 years. Camp Chef Melissa Dunning recalls her own experience as a camper. “It was something you looked forward to on Monday night.”
“Beanie Weenie Day,” another camper favorite, is a picnic at the beach during which campers enjoy grilled hot dogs and beans. Camper, counselor, staff alum, and Board of Directors member Kati Braak recalls “Beanie Weenie Day was great fun, we got to eat at the beach in our bathing suits and who doesn’t love weenies and beans?”
Services in the outdoor chapel, a registered historic landmark built in 1908, are also part of the camp’s deeply rooted religious program in which priests visiting from around the diocese develop programs and services for campers. The Rev. Liem notes that “the programs at Camp Noel Porter offer a chance for youth to experience and grow their faith on their own terms, among their peers, in a way that will be with them for the rest of their lives.”
Secret friends are drawn at the first day of camp, with cards and treats shared anonymously throughout the week before identities are revealed on the last day of camp. Camp songs, sung around the campfire each evening, have been perfected over the years and passed down to the next generations. Campfire is also a time for skits performed by tents or by counselors and staff. Each day campers enjoy an hour of “FOB" time when they are “flat on bunk.”
Staff member Shelby Larkey has her own history with the camp. Not only is she a camper, counselor, and staff alum, but she is the great-grand-daughter of the camp’s namesake, Bishop Noel Porter. “I feel very connected to this ministry, and it’s a very important part of who I am. I see my great-grandfather’s photo on the wall and feel his connection to the camp.”
More recently developed camp activities include the Crazy Olympics, at which campers, counselors, and staff dress in costume according to a theme, and perform a series of tasks (pictured above). Dinner entertainment is comprised of campers singing or performing for mail sent by friends and family, and by those who have left items in Lost and Found, who must also perform to recover their lost items. A competition among the tents to create the catchiest grace before meals has grown in popularity, with grace sung in the format of old camp songs, raps, and pop music. Those campers in the tent performing the grace voted best in camp by the staff earn a reprieve from chores.
The point of the strong fellowship at Camp Noel Porter is that campers grow in faith among their peers, while creating lifelong friendships. Counselors and staff bring their own memories of camp to enrich the experience of newer campers.
“The history and love of this ministry is humbling,” notes the Rev. Jenni Liem, the camp’s Executive Director. Board of Directors President John Dedo, a camper, counselor, and staff alum, agrees. “Our support network is comprised of people with such an attachment to their experiences here that the love for the camp and its programs is contagious.”
Parent drop-off hospitality is a time for parents to share their own experiences as campers with other parents, often running into people with whom they attended camp as youth. “I’m very happy to be passing on this experience to my daughter Stephanie,” notes former Board of Directors President and parent Mark Pinski, who attended camp with Dedo and enjoys re-connecting with Dedo and other alumni at parent drop-off and at other Camp Noel Porter events.
Friends, families, supporters, and alums can continue the Camp Noel Porter experience throughout the year with an extended program of upcoming special diocese-wide retreats that include a Labor Day Work Weekend and Family Camp, a youth winter camp, and workshop retreats for praise musicians, fathers, crafters, couples, and more. These events will be promoted on the Camp Noel Porter website and through the camp’s extensive network. Anyone interested in attending these upcoming retreats, or in next year’s summer programs, may contact the Rev. Jenni Liem, who adds “the ministry at our own Camp Noel Porter continues to grow through the seasons.”
ABOUT CAMP NOEL PORTER:
Camp Noel Porter, also known as Noel Porter Camp and Retreat Center, is located in Tahoe City, California. The camp is a mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California that follows the diocesan mission to nurture the spiritual growth of all God’s people, by providing a summer youth camp program and seasonal retreat facilities.
Wed, August 8, 2012
by Thea Mangels filed under