The following was submitted by Brooke Ells at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. The camp, with the support of grant money from ELCA World Hunger, is involving kids in the fight against hunger.
In the past few weeks we’ve harvested lettuce, spinach, kale, onions, and a variety of herbs at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp in northwest Montana. These fresh vegetables have made welcome appearances on our daily salad bar and outdoor BBQs. We anticipate tomatoes and corn in the coming weeks, which will be donated to local food pantries as a way of acting upon our summer theme, “Love to Serve.” Campers continue to enjoy the garden through educational activities, watering, weeding, harvesting, and eating. And they continue to be curious as they observe two methods of composting waste from the Camp’s kitchen.
We have been adding more biblical and theological connections to our 6th and 7th grade garden scavenger hunt. Following activities at each station we use Bible passages to explore why environmental and social impacts of food production matter for our faith. In order to talk about stewardship and sustainability we read from Leviticus 25: “The land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.
Just as God provided for the Israelites, so God continues to provide for us through the miracle and transformation of seeds to plants to flowers to nourishing fruits. After a relay race that represents food miles and food transport, we discuss our buying power as consumers, and our ability to make a difference through growing our own foods or buying local foods. As Luke 12 tells us, “‘Beware and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does life consist of his possessions. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’”
Finally, in the garden we talk about how our faith is like the parts of a plant. Roots keep us grounded, stems function as our support systems, flowers are our gifts or talents, and fruits are given away in service or nourishment for others. Just as plants need sunlight, so we need a life-giving, transcendent God. Just as plants need water, so we need a cleansing, energizing, ever-present Holy Spirit. And just as seeds are transformed in soil, so we are transformed in Christ’s powerful message of forgiveness.
Campers continue to send letters to their senators and representatives weekly, allowing 8th and 9th grade campers to take action on behalf of those who experience hunger and poverty. Campers inspire us as they write with passion and conviction for their peers or themselves, who are in need of discounted or free school lunches. We hope to see effective changes made to the Child Nutrition Act this fall, including more accessible discounted meals, healthier school meals, and additions of breakfast and summer discounted meals. At the end of each week, campers are each given a list of places they can serve in their home towns.
Many thanks to the ELCA and to all who continue to support the ministry at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp. Your thoughts and encouragement on our behalf keep us energized and renewed for service to children.