Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Notes From My Knapsack
for June 2002 "Church Window"
Hebron Christian Church

They tell me Oprah has ended her Book Club, or at least will less frequently offer book recommendations than she has these last five years. That might just open up a chance to suggest a few "Church Window" book club choices for your summer relaxation.

The last few years I've recommending to anyone who would listen a small, thin book called "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." Translated from the French of Jean-Dominique Bauby, this is the story, told in first-person with some help, of a man who went from being the classic black turtleneck, cigarette smoking, sunglasses in a dark nightclub kind of editor for a French fashion magazine to a victim of "locked-in syndrome." This is a graceful medical term for the horrific state of not being able to move anything but, in Bauby's case, one of his eyelids.

With the help of friends, family, and medical professionals, he not only survives, but learns how to go from simple communication to dictating a book, all through techniques based on his eyelid's movement. This book should, by all rights, be unbearably sad, and yet it is strangely exhilarating to follow the growth of this man through his physical diminishment, which is the story he so wanted to share. His account of visiting the famous healing shrine at Lourdes is itself worth the price of the book.

In most situations, as a pastor I'm highly resistant to suggestions that physical ailments are "given" by God for our own good. While that's still my general assumption, there's no avoiding the fact that while, in this case, Bauby was not healed from his affliction, he was healed by his affliction.

There is a new book out in the "Mitford" series by Jan Karon, which may be a bit self-serving to recommend since a village priest in NC is the hero (one of 'em, anyhow), but I've been reading and enjoying these books since the first one came out from a small Christian publishing house and they were hard to find. Jan's gone mass-market now, but I'm glad more people can read them. She's also published a "facsimile" of Father Tim's sermon notebook, which I'm trying to get the Hebron Library to buy so I can read it more slowly; the problem is that I want to copy all his notes down into *my* sermon notebook!

A slightly grittier perspective on parish life (how come the Episcopalians have all the novels?) is in Gail Godwin's "Evensong," now in paperback and the follow-up to "Father Melancholy's Daughter." Both very fine novels, and both prominently featuring clergy. . .hmmmmmm.

OK, one last summer read I can highly recommend is -- wait, no, there's a couple clergy in it too, but one's nuts and the other is; well, just read the book -- "Empire Falls" by Richard Russo. It just came out in pb as well (I'm thinking cheaply here for you!) and is often found on shelves next to "Straight Man," a comic novel set on a campus much like one Joyce taught at some years ago, and "Nobody's Fool," which was made into a movie with Paul Newman a few years back. Russo won the Pulitzer at long last for "Empire Falls," and probably for his whole body of work including "Mohawk" and "The Risk Pool."

Let me know when you've read all those, and I'll start a new list!

In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff
Commissioner's Corner
By Jeff Gill, Dist. Commish

You must be kidding me. You want me to think about Fall Program Planning?

Yeah, I can hear some of you say that when I mention the Program Planning Kickoff on August 20th at the Newark Public Library from 5 pm to ??? Note I said "some," because many of you battle-hardened Cubmasters and Scoutmasters have already learned full well the rule of 60.

What's the rule of 60. . . days, that is? Simply put, you can't reasonably expect families with kids (or anyone, but families especially) to put something on their calendar and make a firm commitment to participating with less than two months notice, or 60 days. Actually, on the district and council level (and this applies to church youth groups, 4-H'ers, etc.), the rule is more like 90 days, or three months, because by the time an event or activity announcement gets to a group in the mail, goes through committees or boards or whatever, and finally becomes an announcement or newsletter article, you've usually used up one month, and then you still need the 60 days notice.

Keep that in mind, as well as the Fall Program Planning Kick-off, which is now about . . . 60 days away!

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Commissioner's Corner
By Jeff Gill, Dist. Commish

Debriefing. That's not a word filled with woodsmoke and outdoorsiness, but Scout units that do a camping experience this summer can benefit from using a debriefing.

Soon after your return, sit down with your adult leaders, your youth leaders, and maybe just a few Scouts and parents, and talk through what you all just did and what the unit learned from it. Ideally, you might do a debriefing separately with each group, but depending on unit size and time constraints, any format is preferably to no debriefing at all.

One reason even scouters who are familiar with the concept of "debriefing" tend to shy away from doing it is the fear that the gathering will become a "gripe session" (you may be familiar with other words than "gripe" in this context). The best way to avoid that is to make the "debrief" focus on these three questions, IN THIS ORDER! 1.) What went well? 2.) What didn't go as well as you hoped, and why? 3.) What would you like to do differently, and how? This simple debriefing technique can help ensure that each outing is better than the last.

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Commissioner's Corner
By Jeff Gill, Dist. Commish

Family Night is, to put it bluntly, not the favorite part of the week for most of the summer camp staff. I say most because, having been a camp staffer in Scoutcraft, Nature/Conservation, Field Sports, Trading Post Manager, and as Program Director, I know how much I dreaded Family Night every summer EXCEPT the year I was TP Manager. Did I mention that they paid the manager by commission that summer?

Unit leaders can really help the staff be good hosts by getting some information out to your parents before camp starts. I always noticed that the units from which we had little or no trouble from the parents would have a set time they asked parents to arrive (which also facilitated car pooling), greeted them at the gate with an honor guard of youth in uniform, and escorted the family members through the sign-in for meals if that was part of the plan, and then together as a body to the campsite.

A little pre-talk by the unit leader for the week in the campsite also helps to share information on your terms, not from the youth, and gives you another chance to tell parents what's going well. Some parents will always be horrified that little Johnny is covered with mosquito bites, a few bark scrapes, and a fair-amount of ground-in dirt, but they'll be helped by your putting the week so far into perspective.

Plan for Family Night, and you can use the experience as a great support-building time from your scout families; just let Family Night happen, and you might start to feel the way some of the staffers do about it!

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Commissioner's Corner
By Jeff Gill, Dist. Commish

Poetry has been part of Scouting from the very beginning. As Baden-Powell re-wrote "Aids to Scouting" in 1908 into "Scouting for Boys," the beginning of the Scouting Movement, he had just read Rudyard Kipling's "Kim," and B-P got Kipling's permission to copy liberally from the book, which was still a world-wide best-seller.

Poems as meeting starters, Scoutmaster's Minutes, or campfire tales have continued to be a strong part of Scouting's heritage. From Kipling, there's the well-known "If":


For both history and drama, almost anyone can read this poem well from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere":


Edgar Guest was an American poet of the early 1900's who was quoted in many early editions of the BSA Scout Handbook, and Breen Bar Bill himself liked to recite "It Couldn't Be Done":


And my favorite around a campfire on a muggy summer night is "The Cremation of Sam McGee" by Robert Service (you'll cool off just hearing it read), but all his stuff is great for scouts, found at:


And one more just for scouters. . .the younger scouts won't get this one, but I'm betting you will, titled "The Gods of the Copybook Heading":



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Commissioner's Corner
By Jeff Gill, Dist. Commish

Where can you find Round-Up packets, popcorn info, atl-atls, camping tips, free field trips, service project ideas, and fresh, hot coffee all in one place? At the Fall Program Planning Kickoff!

Tuesday, August 20th, in the meeting room of the Newark Public Library from 5 pm to 8:30 pm, you'll find all that and more. The Licking District Committee and Commissioner's staff will put on another great evening of resources and information guarateed to be useful or one of Baden-Powell's middle names isn't Smythe!

You don't have to sign up, but every unit does need to show up, so we can get you timely info about fall activities, give you a chance to swap ideas with other unit leaders, and so we can save postage on popcorn and Round-up mailings.

Look for the Unit Program Fishin' Hole, and cast your line out for a sure-fire big one that won't get away! There will be over 20 other booths and stations from Licking Park District, the Coast Guard Reserve, the OA, and many others. Drop by and drop a line with us . . .
Hebron Crossroads 6-02
By Jeff Gill

Memorial Day was clear and beautiful out at Hebron Cemetery, with just enough breeze to make the flags snap and keep the air cool. A platoon's worth of American Legion Post 285 was on hand in their simple uniforms, with seven armed for the 21-gun salute, and the Lakewood Band provided a bugler for "Taps" as they in their own summer uniform marched down the National Road behind a Hebron/Union Township fire engine.

Pastor Wes Baker of the Hebron United Methodist Church gave an address on the history of the observance, our unity in creation, and how sacrifice and freedom can bring us closer together. Chaplain Wayne Tressemer of Post 285 gave the traditional prayer for the departed, and Post Commander Doug Amspaugh oversaw a moving celebration of "our honored dead," right down to the laying of the wreaths for the Legion, their Auxiliary, and the Gold Star Mothers.

You may hear that, in some communities, there's not enough interest to sustain a Memorial Day parade and commemoration, but the simple dignity and straightforward elegance of this last Monday in May shows that it isn't all that complicated to bring a community together for a cause such as Memorial Day, especially in the wake of 9-11.

Of course, after the solemnity comes the celebration, and many families and groups began a season of grilling, horseshoes, croquet, boating, fishing, and deck building: and that's just what I heard people talking about walking back down Main Street! Open houses for high school and college graduates are also going on this weekend along with last week and well into next week.

Summer is truly here, and once we're past Lakewood commencement June 9, the chorus will begin in many homes of "I'm bored!" Activities that are regular, cheap, or even free can be hard to come by, but we are blessed in this area with a variety of Vacation Bible School programs in some churches as soon as the week after school is out, group activities at Ryan Park and Water's Edge Ministries in Buckeye Lake, and various kids programs for low fees at Dawes Arboretum and Licking Park District (at the Craner Nature Center NE of Jacksontown and at Infirmary Mound Park on Rt. 37).

One of the best children's offerings is through the Hebron Public Library, on the north side of the Municipal Complex, and their Summer Reading Programs. These have much more than just reading going on; the staff is creating a variety of activities which help reinforce good reading and learning habits.

Tuesday morning Storytime is on throughout June and July at 11 am, where children are invited with an accompanying adult, as this is aimed at the younger crowd of 4 to 6. The library will have Wednesday evening activities for ages 7 to 13 at 7 pm. Thursday afternoon specials at 2 pm with a story and craft will interest a wide range of younger readers, with enough activity to help focus even the pre-reader on what's going on. You'll also hear from special guest readers, like Dave Lehman on June 13 and Bob Kreidler on July 18.
Weekly trivia games for ages 10-16 from June 10 to August 2 will offer prizes to the weekly winners, in the "Circus of Fun Trivia" contest at "The greatest show in town," your Hebron Public Library.

That should keep most of us from being too "glued to the tube" this summer, but my son Chris and I have to take issue with fellow columnist Larry Fugate. We liked Steve on "Blue's Clues," but Joe is great, too. What else would you expect from a TV character that's been focus-grouped to the nth degree? Maybe we need a Joe Appreciation Society. . .every new member gets a block-pattern rugby shirt. . .or maybe Larry and Chris and I all need to get out and around this summer!

Jeff Gill is pastor of Hebron Christian Church and really likes Oswald even more than "Blue's Clues," but likes playing backyard tournament croquet even more; if you have reports on summer activities in the Hebron area, call 928-4066 or e-mail disciple@voyager.net.