I Heart Church Camp: Montreat 2011 Memories

I heart church camp.

Emily, Jon, Patrick and Anaclara

From my days growing up attending Zephyr Point Conference Center, to gathering for events at Stoney Point, Ghost Ranch, Westminster WoodsMo-Ranch and The Heartland Center, I am so grateful for the history and ministry of Presbyterian-related camps and conferences. The impact that conference centers such as these have had on my own life and the lives of so many people over the years is immeasurable to say the least.  Go camps and conferences!*

For the past two weeks, I have been part of another church camp that has played a particularly important part in my own spiritual life, Montreat Conference Center and the Montreat Youth Conferences.  Since my wife and I first attended in 1991, we have had the privilege of being part of planning teams, support staff, leadership and now parents of a conferee.  As odd as it may seem for a family so steeped in San Francisco urbanity, we consider Montreat one of our spiritual homes.

The Left Bank from across Lake Susan

After nearly two years of planning by staff, directors, planning team members and leadership another year of this amazing ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is unfolding this summer. For those of you not familiar with Montreat Youth Conferences: every summer 1,000 young people a week for six weeks join together for fun, worship and study. Content is distinctly Presbyterian and reformed, healthy community is held to a high standard and the exploration of our young people of their Christian faith is held at the center of it all.

Meg Peery McLaughlin, Co-Keynoter

This year’s them was “Searching for the Signal” and I was the preacher for the week.  I was also able to hang out with some great folks, snap some pictures and generally dive into the adventure of church camp.  Below are some links and resources from the conference.

Available resources that I used during my sermon time:

To keep connected to Montreat Youth Conferences, here are a few other links:

I think that’s it.  Thanks to all for yet another wonderful experience.

* If you want to find out more about Presbyterian camps and conference centers, please visit Presbyterian Church Camp and Conference Center Association and The Camps and Conference Centers Office of the General Assembly.

Advice and Guidance for a Photography Newbie?

UPDATE 06.26.11: Here are some pics I took at SF Pride 2011 [Facebook Album].

Like many people, I have always wanted to dive a little deeper into photography.  A very long time ago, I had a film Canon EOS and really loved the process of taking pics.  Over time I went through various stages of digital picture taking eventually ending up, like so many, solely using my phone camera to capture life around me.

It really is amazing how far technology has come in such a short time.

After doing a year of daily pics in 2010 and then failing at the same project for 2011, I am diving back in. My search began with some helpful conversations with photographer friends and plenty of input from the Facebook crew. After comparing prices, features and how current I wanted my technology, I was still equally open to Canon or Nikon.  In the end, I found some GREAT Craiglist deals on a Canon XSi and a 18-135mm lens, so it is TEAM CANON for me!

So now I have to figure out how do use the darn thing.  I never really knew what all the buttons, dials and settings meant on my last fancy-schmancy camera, so I am not as much overwhelmed by the changes in camera technology, but by the reality that I pretty much have no idea what any of it means.

I am more or a “learn as you go” kinda boy. I’ll read the manual to get some basic foundational info, but for the most part, it’s trial and error baby, trial and error. I also know that some of you are WAY into all of this, so I would be a fool not to at least try to sponge off some of your knowledge and passion.  So if you are so inclined, help a newbie out!  Here are some basic questions for you to offer your thoughts:

  • How do you organize and store your pictures?
  • What inexpensive and user-friendly software do you use to edit photos?
  • How do you share your photos on your blog, facebook, twitter, etc,: smugmug, picasa, flicker, etc.?
  • If you happen to have a Cannon XSi, any pointers, tips and or must-have accessories?
  • What am I not asking or thinking about that I should be?
  • And finally, now that I am part of Team Canon, am I allowed to talk with The People of the Nikon Way?

I’ll probably be starting some kind of photo blogging project to help me stay disciplined, but for now, I’m going to just try and figure out what all the lights and letters mean 😉