|‘Creation Vacations’ offer respite in tough times|
By Kelly Martini*
August 5, 2009 | ROCKAWAY BEACH, Ore. (UMNS)
Everyone needs time to play.
That is especially true for people on tight budgets in these tough
economic times, say United Methodists in the Oregon-Idaho Annual
“Creation Vacations”—a ministry of camps and retreat centers of the
conference—provides opportunities for families to get away from the
pressures of living paycheck to paycheck.
The free getaway—offered to low-income families in the two states –
is a gift of oft-needed time together in a peaceful environment.
Alejandra Aguilar, one vacationer, says that this year, job
opportunities have been scarce. Family respites or special treats with
his children are rare because of a lack of money.
A volunteer helps Jazmin Aguilar, 5,
take flight on the “Big Swing” at Camp
Magruder on the Oregon Coast.
“Before this past year, I could count on having three jobs and there
was enough that I could take my girls out to eat two or three times a
month,” she explains. “Now I can only count on having one job, so it’s
definitely more difficult.”
Fewer job opportunities translate into less time with family and more stress to pay critical bills—food, rent, electricity.
Time away can make this stress seem more bearable, says the single mother of two daughters.
“It’s always been difficult, but lately it’s become more difficult
to take them on an outing,” she notes, listing what seems like a
never-ending “to do” list.
“I work a lot. Then, Saturday and Sunday I am cleaning and I am
going to the grocery story and picking up things and doing errands.”
Three days of vacation give this family time together without the
financial burdens. The family of three can “enjoy nature” and focus on
each other without distractions.
“When we’re here, we’re able to get away from the technological
toys, the Nintendo and other video games and it really helps them to
appreciate nature and appreciate what’s growing around them,” Aguilar
says. She thanks “God above all for the opportunity that we have… and
for the church that has allowed us to be here.”
The Rev. Kevin Witt, the conference’s former camp and retreat
ministries director, says that when these vacationers step away from
their environments, they have an opportunity to value and enjoy each
other in a new way.
“It’s a time of peace. It’s a time of joy,” he adds. “The children
get to see their parents in a different light because they’re having
fun together. They’re really enjoying each other’s company and there’s
a connection there that occurs.”
Witt believes that being in the midst of the grandeur of nature also enables the families to experience God in a different way.
“The natural world is a way to connect more deeply with God. It’s
part of a faith journey,” he says. Visitors experience God near the
ocean, away from urban settings, and away from work.
The families leave with strengthened relationships, a feeling of
community, and deepened spiritual practices, Witt says. It is a renewal
that continues for the summer and beyond.
*Martini is a freelance writer based in Glen Mills, Pa.
News media contact: Lilla Marigza, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meals for Foreclosed
Free Family Time
Help for the Unemployed
'Creation Vacation' provides break to cash-strapped families
Creation vacation: brings low-income families to camp
Churches offer services to the jobless
United Methodist ministry reaching out to the unemployed
Camp Magruder: Creation Vacation
Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference: Camping Resources
Comments will be moderated. Please see our Comment Policy
for more information.