Jun05

Camp Basileia

It’s almost summer! I wanted to write again earlier, but immediately after my finals ended and before returning to work this week, I attended a weeklong retreat at a camp six hours north of home. This is my first time ever being outdoors, and the first time in the last ten years I’ve visited a place that’s not a city. This must be what the world looks like!

The camp is located at Saranac Lake, which has a beautiful beach, calm waters, and air so fresh that you can see all the stars at night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that outside of movies!

No swimming was allowed because the water is freezing at this time of year!

Because the location is so close to Canada, all the trees are pine trees. Somehow though, my allergies seriously acted up. I’ve been really lucky this year because I’ve been living in Manhattan in the spring and any allergies only kick in a bit when I visit my parents in the suburbs once a month. At Saranac Lake though, I couldn’t stop sniffing and it hasn’t stopped after I got back.

The boating dock.

Luckily, we had log cabins to live in with showers and everything. I’m glad we didn’t have to camp in tents because that would have been bad! The weather was rather cold at night, though it got warmer in the afternoons. I had to change my clothes based on the time of the day because the weather changed so much. The bad – I didn’t pack that much – most of my clothes are urban style and definitely unsuitable for camping. I don’t even own a pair of sneakers! The good – the air was really dry so I didn’t sweat and could make rounds with my clothes.

9 of my girlfriends and I camped out in this cabin along with girls from many other universities!

I attended this retreat through my campus fellowship, so we spent a lot of hours each day in classrooms and assembly. Our days began at 8AM and ended at 10PM. There was just about no cell phone service so we had very little to distract us.

It was amazing to just sit by the beach.

Every afternoon we had three hours of free time though! I went sailing and canoeing for the first time in my life! But I was too chicken to try the kayaking and paddle boarding. It’s not because I can’t swim – I’m actually pretty adept at the backstroke – but I was scared of the freezing water. I witnessed several of my daredevil friends falling in! AHH!

I went canoeing for the first time in my life!!! My friend brought her $2000 camera on board.

My study sessions were about engaging the world through my faith. The first exercise we did was searching for something in the forest that represents what the world is like in our eyes. I chose these little flowers.

A little flower that people miss.

Don’t let the photo fool you, but those flowers combined are about the size of the tip of my thumb – I have small hands. Everyone asked me where I managed to find them, but actually they were right at our feet, just too small for anyone to notice. The flowers really show just how small each person is compared to the world, but yet, we are still here which means there must be a reason for our existence.

So why do we exist? Why do we live?

In order to answer that question, we studied the different philosophical worldviews that people live by:

  1. Naturalism: Life exists because cells are divided and joined.
  2. Materialism: Life is only about achievement and material success.
  3. Hedonism: Life is for pleasure so do whatever you want to be happy.
  4. Humanism: Life is for us to be good people because we are human.
  5. Existentialism: Life exists and it’s up to each individual to find meaning.
  6. Eastern: Life is a cycle and needs to be balanced, so for every good there will be bad.

I’ve never studied the world so deeply before! Before I became a Christian, I lived a materialistic and humanistic worldview along with my parents. They taught me to believe only in myself and that all my success is brought by my own hard work. They also taught me to be a good person so that I will find other good people to be friends with.

However after I started being exposed to faith, I found loopholes in my old worldviews. I received a good college education, I had a good job, and was attending graduate school at my dream school. But what was going to happen after I got my master’s degree? The technology field is always going to be moving forward so how much did I need to move with it to be considered successful? I also didn’t think I should do “too much” because I was told that there was no need for a girl to when she can find a man to cover the rest. The loophole in my materialistic worldview was that it had no explanation for what my individual success meant and how it can relate to a spouse’s.

For example, I consider success to be a having a job where I can use my talents and get paid to live comfortably (six figures in New York). But other people may not consider a job in technology to be successful. They may also consider me unsuccessful if I’m not a wife with three children.

Meanwhile, I also tried my best to be a good person. The loophole got bigger and bigger as I got older and needed to judge for myself who are the other “good people” I was searching for. I was told that I was naive and foolish for having a big heart. I was also told that men who sexually harassed me were not “bad people” because it’s by nature that men treat women that way “as long as it wasn’t rape”. The loophole in my humanistic worldview was that there was absolutely no explanation for what decides good and bad people – not counting criminals.

For example, I am not okay with letting a guy who is not my boyfriend touch me, while I know a number of people who think it’s perfectly normal and called me sick and childish. Does that make the guy a good person or bad person? Does that make those girls good people or bad people?

If you’ve faced similar questions in your life, how did you answer them?

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6 Comments to "Camp Basileia"

Georgie wrote on 6th June 2016 at 9:35 AM

I remember coming across a similar train of thought when Nick pointed out to me what he learned about stupid people. Sometimes people who do really dumb or stupid things don’t actually realise that they are making silly decisions or making fools of themselves because their brain is simply wired to not understand the concept of stupidity. Of course this made me wonder, then, for people who are a bit stupid, how do they see other people when other people think differently? Do they just think the other person is wrong or do they instead think they’re stupid?

What you’re okay with can be considered not okay for others. I can put something quite simply in light of relationships: if you’re in a relationship you should not kiss someone who is not your partner because it’s wrong. But to people in open relationships or relationships with more than two people, this might be okay and even encouraged. Regardless of your view, everyone does have an opinion and does have different morals of ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

For people, that can change. I know people who disliked the idea of open relationships and changed to like them and make it something that worked for them. From my point of view (I don’t want to detail it as it’s rather personal), I partook in activities that were ‘wrong’ to me as a child but I later rebelled and rather than seeing it as rebellion I made it my own, ‘right’ thing and made myself okay with it. And then in recent years, I pretty much took a complete turn and decided that everything I thought was okay was now totally not okay anymore. I feel that these things can change depending on relationships, environment and just our personal growth.

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Michelle wrote on 7th June 2016 at 10:53 PM

I’m a Buddhist, but I did come to those questions, that life is full of suffering but there is a bright side that even in our imperfections that life can be conquered and we kind of find a peace in our own hearts through our doings.

You never let a guy friend hug you? O.o oooh, I guess everyone is different, but if by touch you mean intimately, then I can understand the implications it can bring. It sort of happened to me and I had to tell my husband about my friend touching me inappropriately. Husband wasn’t happy and thus, I cut off my friendship with that person, and haven’t looked back.

Beautiful photos <3

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Liv Reply:

Hugging is not touching! Haha that’s just a casual greeting it’s equivalent to a handshake for me. Yes I mean touching intimately, and that’s not necessarily sexual (includes it though) but still more intimately than the average good male friend. I’m sorry about your friend touching you inappropriately, that is uncalled for no matter what. Though I am not pro-friend-cutting, I do think in this situation that is the step to take.

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Cat wrote on 10th June 2016 at 2:27 AM

That looks like a beautiful place! That’s nice that you stayed in log cabins, though I feel you on the allergies thing. Mine would probably act up too 🙁 Sailing and canoeing look fun!

I think it’s a problem when people feel they are wrong or aren’t successful because it doesn’t match other people’s views or society’s in general. Every one has their own definition of success and what they expect in a relationship. I think there are some things that people agree are definitely good or bad, but other things vary by person. A guy might think it’s ok to touch someone he’s not dating, and for some people, that’s ok with them too. I do think he’s a bad person if you say no, and he continues to do it though. There’s a difference between different views and purposely going against someone’s wishes. When faced with questions like that though, I have to remind myself that how I think might not match up with another person’s, and that’s totally ok.

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Tara wrote on 11th June 2016 at 9:09 PM

Looks like a beautiful place! I’m glad you didn’t stay in tents, too LOL I’m all for getting closer to nature, but . . . not that close?! I still want some modern amenities XD;

It is interesting how we all have different definition of success. Some people tell me that it’s great that I have a master, but I feel like getting my master hasn’t really helped me with my career! Then there’s the fact that non-English speaking people tell me I’m so lucky I know English, and I’m thinking . . . I wish I knew more languages like Japanese! It’s almost amusing, really, to see how each of us view success.

As for the belief that it’s okay for men to sexually harass people as long as it’s not rape because it’s “normal” behaviour and that still makes them good people . . . uh, no?! I personally cannot accept that. Can’t say that makes them good people, either. I know things aren’t always black and white in our world, and that it’s the grey areas we need to focus on, but some things are just black and white!

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Pauline wrote on 14th June 2016 at 6:27 AM

WOOO FOR GOING OUTSIDE AND EXPLORING THE REAL WORLD 😉 That’s a goal of mine this summer as I’ve written on my blog, I’ve been planning it a lot for the up coming months. But this camp is amazing, I don’t know if there’s similar places in England, I’ve not really heard of “camps” here I’m not too sure. I’m so envious you got to explore this place though, looks beautiful! 🙂

I really like what you studied, the perspectives discussed, I’ve yet heard of most so I found it really interesting reading through them. Thinking about this question, my parents have always taught me materialism and humanism, like yours have. But after reading this, I’ve started looking and thinking of the different ways people may view the world. It’s all so subjective and really depends on the person. I found this very interesting though!

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