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Camping in the great outdoors

Every state in the union has a slogan.  A marketing campaign to bring much needed tourism dollars.  Michigan has the best of the bunch.  Pure Michigan.  Those words rang true as I floated down the Au Sable river in the northern region of our great mitten.

    This weekend we took 11 teens up camping in Hartwick State Park.  We took city kids and suburban kids.  It’s a crazy thing how these two groups of kids are so removed from nature.  Technology has insulated us from big blue sky.  Smartphones, video games, and television keep us indoors.  And for the Flint kids, going outside takes them into a concrete jungle.  We live in a wounded city full of condemned houses.  Getting these kids out into the woods of Michigan, surrounded by green and brown and blue, it is letting them touch the divine.  The creation point home.  The vastness of the sky, the fury of a storm, the river running strong and true.  It all points to its maker.  

    It was a good weekend.  Hiking, fishing, swimming, sitting around an open fire.  But there was a moment when I was silenced.  We were canoeing on the Au Sable, and a storm was rolling in.  We could hear the thunder in the distance.  We came around a bend, and the banks opened up wide.  The cover of trees broke, and the still blue sky was in full view.  I put mypaddle down and was content.  I was content to be out there in the silence.  No phone.  No email.  No car.  It was Pure Michigan.  And it was good.

    As I write this, I am already planning on taking the kids camping out in the back of the house.  My 5 year old daughter.  My 4 year old son.  They are so excited.  To sleep under the stars.  No TV.  Just family, the wide open sky, and the truth that God is there and He is not silent.