June 28, 2016

A weekly communication for:

WDC Churches and Pastors

WDC Executive Board, Commission, Committee and Task Force members

Any content may be used in bulletins and newsletters and

forwarded to congregational leaders and members.

WDC Sprouts is also available at:  www.mennowdc.org (Publications)


*Not Just a Rubber Duck

*Prayer Requests

*Coming Events


Not Just a Rubber Duck

     by Olivia Bartel, Camp Mennoscah Director

Sometimes I hide a small rubber duck for the summer staff.   It’s yellow and has “Return to Olivia” written on the bottom.  I give the staff what I hope is a vague clue and the hunt is on.  They look as they go about their chores and I add clues until the duck is found.  Whoever finds the duck gets a prize of some sorts, so there is a bit of competition involved.  The prize has been a variety of things, but this summer they can choose between a baked item (like cookies) or 2 candy bars.  Nothing big.

I didn’t realize what this little thing meant until this past spring.  I thought hiding the duck was a nothing activity.  A camp director that I don’t know well came up to me at a Mennonite Camping Association event.  “I hear you hide a rubber duck for your summer staff.”  I admit to being startled and somewhat confused.  The duck?  How in the world did he know about the duck?  This is not something worthy of national news.

It happened that he had spoken with a former summer staffer and that staffer had extolled the wonders of the small rubber duck.  Huh.  So I spoke with other summer staffers.  It became clear that this thing that I thought was nothing meant more to them than I realized.  This simple little thing meant to be fun and silly had a much greater effect on their overall camp experience.  It made it better, it seems.

We’re working with small things with our summer youth camps this year, hoping they have a positive effect on camper experiences.  Meagan Baldwin, a Bal-A-Vis-X practitioner, spent time with us during summer staff orientation and spoke about the most, the some, and the few.  How most of us will have a blast at camp just the way it is, some of us will enjoy camp if minor adjustments are made, and a few of us will need further accommodations to get the best camp experience.

This summer we have earplugs for those who are sensitive to noise—we make a lot of joyous noise at Camp Mennoscah and it can be overwhelming.  Alternate tables are offered for folks during special meals that we eat without silverware or plates because those meals can be really messy.  That can make some of us uncomfortable.  We have books for those who want some quiet time with words, and card games and paper and markers for those who like to draw instead of madly dashing around.  We have a list of simple things we can do for the some and the few to make their time at Camp Mennoscah better, and we’re adding to the list throughout the summer.

It’s nothing much, but maybe these small things mean more to the campers than we realize now.  Maybe one of these simple things will help a camper have the sort of camp experience that we want everyone to have.  You know, one of those “camp is fun, I can’t wait to come back” experiences.

Which would be great.  Because Camp Mennoscah is here—and we are here—to build relationships with God, nature, and others.  And we think one of the best ways to do that is by having fun.  As one camp director says, camp reminds us that being Christian is fun.

Prayer Requests

July 3 – Pray for God’s guidance and joy for Kathy Neufeld Dunn, WDC Associate Conference Minister (KS) who began her new role July 1.

July 10 – Pray for the planning team, staff, leaders and volunteers who are making final preparations for WDC Annual Assembly, July 29-30 at Bethel College, KS.

July 17 – Give thanks for God’s work in congregations and communities across WDC.

July 24 – Pray for WDC Annual Assembly next weekend at Bethel College in Kansas, and for all who travel from far and near to experience worship, fellowship, learning and discernment together.

July 31 – Give thanks for WDC pastors, youth sponsors and Sunday school teachers who are preparing for a new season of learning and growing in discipleship, as another school year approaches.

Coming Events

July 1 – Kathy Neufeld Dunn begins as WDC Associate Conference Minister for Kansas

July 4 – WDC Office closed for Independence Day

July 7 – WDC Church Planting Commission meeting

July 15 – Early registration deadline for Annual Assembly

July 29 (12-5 pm) – Pastors’ Afternoon Apart, Bethel College, North Newton KS

Jul 29-30 – WDC Annual Assembly 2016, Bethel College, North Newton KS

Aug 16 – WDC Stewardship Commission meeting

Aug 26 – WDC Ministerial Leadership Commission meeting

Oct 22 – Fall Reference Council: “Held Together in Mission: Being Church in the Urban Context”,Dallas, TX (Location to be announced)

WDC Announcements

  1. Mini Music Festival Saturday evening of the Western District Conference Annual Assembly, July 29-30 on Bethel College campus, North Newton, KS. It will feature a variety of musical styles at several venues around campus.  It’s open to the public, so invite your friends and neighbors!  (Donations welcome at the event.)  For more information, go to mennowdc.org/annual-assembly/#2016annual Assembly.
  1. Holy and Whole: Faithful Response to Sexual Abuse in the Congregation – Pastors’ Afternoon Apart – July 29, 12 noon – 5 pm.  Register by July 15 at https://mennowdc.org/pastors-afternoon-apart-july-29-2016/.  NOTE:  Pastors Afternoon Apart does not include lunch; please plan to eat lunch in advance.
  1. WDC is looking for people in the Newton area to host persons coming to the Annual Assembly, July 29-30. Let us know if you can be a host – call Nancy at 316-283-6300 or email wdc@mennowdc.org.  Thanks!
  1. It’s only a month before all your new friends and old chums are getting together for the Young Adult Weekend at Camp Mennoscah! On July 29-31, young adults age 18 and older will be having a rollicking good time doing all sorts of camp things–swimming, crafts, worship, campfire, making new friends.  We’d be thrilled to have you there.  Register online at www.campmennoscah.org!
  1. Mental Health Spiritual Retreat! All those affected by mental illness, including friends and family, are invited to come to Camp Mennoscah on Sept 4-5 for a time of relaxation, worship, fun activities, and friends.  Find the registration form at www.campmennoscah.org under Retreats or call us at 620-297-3290.  Come enjoy a bit of rest in the midst of some of God’s great creation!

Western District Conference

2517 North Main, PO Box 306

North Newton KS  67117

316-283-6300; FAX:  316-283-0620

Email:  wdc@mennowdc.org

Website:  www.mennowdc.org