So Scruffy and I were chatting with a friend the other day. This particular friend loves math and science and always has info about some strange and fascinating study for us to consider. Last week, he was telling us about “The Rat Park.”
What? You don’t think we should build a rat park at camp? No, I’m not suggesting that we invest in a rat park. We have sufficient amounts of rodent wildlife already, thank you very much. But there was this experiment involving a rat park and it fascinates me because it says something about community and space and how God made us to thrive. We are certainly not rats, but there is a lot that we can learn from our whiskery friends.
A scientist was looking at that famous experiment where drugs were made available to rats in a maze. The rats quickly became addicted, so addicted that they ceased to do everything except get high. It was very sad. Well this scientist wondered if perhaps there were other factors involved. So he recreated the experiment, only he made drugs available to rats who lived in this huge and fabulous rat park. There was space and fun things to do. It was a rat heaven which also included unlimited access to drugs. The rats tried the drugs…but they did not become addicted. They also played and ate and ran around doing rodenty things. The scientist even took rats who were already addicted to drugs and placed them into the rat park. These rats started to live life instead of just get high, even thought the drugs were available.
Now, when you come up to camp this summer, you will not see a rat park. We hope that you will not see a rat at all, maybe a squirrel or an elk or a bear… Anyway, if the whole rat park thing seems like a pretty large leap away from a discussion of summer camp, I understand. A whole lot of crazy things make me think about summer camp. I live here. It is on my mind a lot. But this rat park story made me see that we are striving to give campers something that God created us to have.
We were made to have beauty and space and fascinating discoveries. We were made to stretch and live and love. We were made for community and compassion. We were not made to be trapped and alone.
God tells us in His word not to forsake meeting together. He tells us that the wonders of His creation speak clearly of the Glory of God. At camp we want to offer space to run and play and see all the Glory of God around us. We want to offer a fun and kind community where kids are safe and cared for.
Sometimes we find ourselves living in a tight little maze, packed full of bad options.
At camp we want to offer something different. Wildflowers and the wind ruffling your hair. A sprint through the meadow with a water balloon in hand. A quiet moment with friends, praying for each other. God made us for things such as these.
Our hope and our passion? To spend this summer offering life at its best to the kids God has seen fit to send us. God around us in His beautiful creation. God in each of His people, putting aside self to love others. This is our goal.