Text: Kirsti Wallenius-Riihimäki
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
I have now experienced a modern confirmation camp that took place in bubbles.
I am at Jämsä Opisto. Two confirmation camps of 50 students each are in process. One group is working downstairs, using the assembly hall when the whole group needs to be present as well as the outdoor dorms. We are upstairs. We do not have sauna, because the sauna section is within the territory of the downstairs camp. There is renovation going on in the kitchen. At lunch time we therefore run across the yard with our masks on into a big tent where large pots of heated soup are waiting. Mealtimes are staggered in such a way that the staff have time to disinfect the place in between the bubble groups.
All contacts between the camps are by telephone. We can only greet familiar teachers from a distance. We do not teach each other’s lessons. When one teacher in our group was quarantined, and I with my two doses of vaccine was gone for a day to have a covid test, I am sure the staff did not have problems of how to use their leisure time! Earlier in the summer, Jämsä Opisto had hosted a group evacuated from Maitoinen camp and another group from Kallio. With everybody flexible, things went well.
Some of you may ask why elderly people like us still need to participate in all that bustle. No-one asked us to come – we asked if we could come just “one more time”.
One can get addicted to many things. I guess addiction to confirmation camps is not really the worst kind. Each camp consists of the staff and the young people with whom the staff share that memorable period of time. The staff and the campers together make up the camp. Those who share our bubble get some new and fresh experiences from the youngsters’ bubble. We can all be part of a collective that is basically similar from year to year, though the external circumstances change. Even Opisto itself changes. The floors no longer creak, the doors do not bang, and the windows are not drafty. And one need not wait in line to use the bathroom.
Working with the young people, I realized why the songs of Zion need to be re-worded from time to time. When I was temporarily off the ranks due to my sore throat, I heard the clear voice of our cantor’s four-year-old child singing one of the new songs and a group in another direction singing another.
When I was their age, I sang different songs. Each age group sing their own favorites. And each re-edition of our song book attracts new singers. Now I learnt about the songs of the 2020s.
It seems the quantity of material that I need to attend a camp increases all the time. At first I only needed a duffel bag. Now my “necessary” stuff makes up a car load. My check list grows longer summer by summer. I added a flyswatter years ago and a reading lamp when they renovated Opisto’s electrical system. The laptop now requires an extension cord, and I have recently added a shoehorn and a magnifying glass to my list.
I am finalizing this text in our biggest classroom on the last evening of our camp. The camp participants are sitting on the floor, writing greetings to their camp mates on cardboard hearts. Everybody will get some nice descriptions about themselves – they are not supposed to write negative things on the hearts. Confirmation service will be tomorrow. The song that we will sing when we say goodbye to them at the altar speaks about a group of angels walking to the church, followed by a prayer that the Heavenly Father would protect His children in His kingdom and would carry them into heaven one day.
Maailman tuhansien eri uskontojen määrä kertoo selkeää sanomaa. Ihmisellä on pysyvä tarve turvautua yli-inhimilliseen, näkymättömään ja korkeampaan voimaan. Jumala loi ihmisen elämään omassa yhteydessään. Kaipuu tähän yhteyteen säilyy ihmisessä. Kirkkoisä Augustinus toteaa: ”Ihmisen sydän on niin kauan levoton, kunnes se löytää levon Jumalassa.”
Siionin Joulu on lehti joulun kristillistä sanomaa kaipaavalle. Lehti on värikäs, aikaansa heijastava. Hartauksien lisäksi siinä on haastatteluja eri puolilta maailmaa.
Lohdullisia ja riemullisia lauluja taivaasta Jämsän Kristillinen Kansanopiston kuoron laulamana.