Blog by Rev. Rhonda Parker, Director - Chestnut Ridge Camp & Retreat Center
Facebook is an interesting phenomena. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook with his college roommates and fellow computer science students while he was a student at Harvard University. The website's membership was initially limited by the founders to Harvard students, but was eventually expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It later expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over (including my newly 13 year old daughter!). The website currently has more than 400 million active users worldwide.
And, those users doesn’t end with teens and young adults. Millions of full fledged adults are on Facebook. Recently I “friended” my elderly neighbor – at 88 years old, she had started her Facebook page as a way to keep up with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I joined Facebook with some trepidation. Would I be able to think up witty statuses? Would I be able to find a decent picture of myself to post on my page? More importantly, would anyone be my FB friend? I’m still not sure about the witty statuses or decent picture, but I have to say, I’m amazed at the number of people who have chosen to friend me on FB.
Because of FB, I know that Nicki hurt her foot at a concert (but still had a great time), Lydia had a volleyball tournament yesterday, and Alex is up to his neck in papers and exams. I know when folks are feeling a bit down, and when they are celebrating. I know when they’re wrestling with life’s big questions, and when they’ve found some of the answers. Occasionally, I know a bit too much – such as what time Valerie went to sleep last night, or what Mike had for dinner.
Although I have my critiques of FB – and all social media that relies on technology – I’ll save those for another day. For today, I want to share the role FB plays in our camp community. The camp community is really made up of 4 groups of people: campers, the summer team, camper parents, and church leaders. Campers, camper parents, and church leaders make up what I call my elective FB camp friends. In other words, they are welcome to “friend” me and I enjoy keeping up with them. Joining the summer team, though, and you are required to be my friend on FB. Why? Because you are asking to live as part of a covenant community in which you are dedicating yourself to God and others – and you are agreeing to be accountable for that commitment. Your life is no longer a private affair that you can conduct in any way you see fit. Your life now represents something greater than yourself – it becomes a model for what life in Christ looks like, and our community becomes a group of people figuring out what it means to really love God and one another.
Because FB is one of the ways we present ourselves to others, it is an important consideration as Christian to consider what we present. When we list our favorite music, books, movies and quotes, we reveal something about ourselves, and our Christian walk. When we post our statuses, join causes, and become part of other groups, we reveal something about our Christian walk. When we comment on other people, we reveal something about our Christian walk.
Most of the time, FB is a positive influence in my life and among our team members. It’s a great way to keep in touch and to communicate about upcoming events and opportunities. We use it to recruit, to ask for volunteers, and to give updates about Charlie the Pig and the rest of the camp community.
During the year, I enjoy perusing FB pages of our team members. Here’s what I learned recently:
Nick likes hanging out in the woods, climbing trees, summiting small mountains, eating food and chasing Levi, his son. His favorite music is Cowboy Mouth (who's that?), but mostly he listens to NPR and Sports Talk Radio.
Leigh has a quote by William Feather on her FB page: “One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.” She says her interests are trying new things, playing tennis and soccer, painting, acting, reading, singing…well, it’s quite a long list…which she ends with “having a good time in general.”
Graham – who always keeps me laughing – says in his about me section: pirate, poet, parrot, procrastinator, and periodic peon. Appreciative of alliteration. Also a fan of the Oxford comma. Former wordsmith and scholar of destructive statecraft. Poker of people with bendy metal sticks. Mad archer. Canoe guru and kayakapult specialist. Occasional dessert ninja. Longtime aficionado of cruel and unusual geography, exploration of same. Inland Pirate Scourage of the Scottish Isles. OJ impersonator. Unwilling friend of rodents. High functioning introvert. Lucid daydreamer. Class “A” nerd. World’s worst ice skater. Compulsive doodler. Obnoxiously optimistic. Work in progress.
Usually, spending time looking at the FB pages of our team is fun and entertaining, occasionally, it’s inspirational. One such moment happened for me when I was perusing Elizabeth’s Info page. Born October 29. Hometown: Vienna, VA. Relationship status: single. Religious views: Giving my life away to God.
Sometimes, FB leaves me smiling. What a blessing our summer team is to me - and to the campers they serve. Thanks be to God!