The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


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'I'm Pastor So-and-So and, yes, I was a camp counselor'

It’s a letter Sara J. Wilson’s mother has kept. After her first day at camp, Wilson wrote home to tell her mother: “I’m here for a week this year, but next year I’ll be back for two. And then I’m going to be a counselor in training and then a counselor and then and then and then ....”

Wilson vividly recalls writing the letter. It was 1993 and the Roman Catholic 13-year-old was drawn to camp because her friends stayed up all night telling her about it.

Those young Lutherans at the slumber party had no idea their all-night yapping would produce yet one more pastor for the ELCA. But the vocational road from camp to seminary is familiar to Don Johnson, who was executive director of Calumet Lutheran Camp and Conference Center, West Ossipee, N.H., for 35 years. Those years include the summer Wilson first stepped foot on what she describes as Calumet’s “holy ground” and her 10 years on staff.

“Camp gave me a voice,” Wilson says. “I was so shy I wouldn’t look anyone in the eye. I was given the space to open up and blossom. Now I’m making up for lost time because I’m loud and chatty.”

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