Keep it Simple Stupid!

Posted By on April 25, 2009

As I prepare to pack and load up my earth destroyer SUV for my summer Montana migration to run Rockhaven Camp I’m reflecting a little on some of the many reasons why I do it and have become so passionate about this ministry.

First, it should go without saying that anyone who knows me knows that I am a fanatical fly fisherman and southwestern Montana is certainly fly fishing Mecca.  So, it stands to reason that I would enjoy that aspect of my summers in Montana.  I’d being lying if I said it’s not a plus but if truth be known… I can fish in a lot of places and do, and no matter where I find myself there can always be fishing.  So, when I took on this ministry, fishing wasn’t initially on the pros and cons list.  No… really. 


One of the big blessings is of course the opportunity it affords us in priceless experiential learning with Sarah.  I can’t think of too many ways better to unschool a child than by living in a simple cabin without so much of the “stuff” that distracts us from listening and learning naturally and then carry it out  in a place like southern Montana. Every year I leave with a truck load full of the things I think I will need and every summer I wish I had left most of it at home.  Those few months have ended with the overwhelming feeling of freedom and liberation which usually manifests itself in a conversation with my wife that ends in a phrase something like, “just burn it all, we don’t need it and I think the three of us can make it through the winter in this cabin”. 

Rockhaven is an uncomplicated rustic camp whose genesis came from motivated people with a vision to transform lives.  It really offers only the beauty and the hope of those it has inspired.  It is certainly a beautiful and holy place but it is just that, a place. Once we let fall the spectacular river, the towering cliffs, the fresh smell of fir trees from our focus we see that what Rockhaven is truly about is people. It’s about people listening to the Holy Spirit and following Christ’s call, connecting with other people to build greater the Kingdom of God.  Nothing is needed to accomplish this.  No “stuff” is better than what we each carry with us and the story we each can tell.

When considering Rockhaven there seems to be an overall theme I continually come back to and I’m sure will fuel fodder for future post this summer and that is “simplicity”.  As an artist I know first hand how easy it is to become focused on the end result rather than the overall vision.  Many times have I allowed the product to take precedence over the process and as a result, I pretty much lost sight of why I was even doing what I had originally set out to do in the first place.

So many summer camps struggle with ways to stay ahead of our fast paced and changing world.  They try so hard to find new ways toward relevance that they entangle themselves in the “stuff” that they believe they need; because they believe it is what people want.  They are racing so fast to upgrade and update, and to keep up with the latest and greatest programs that they lose focus in their vision.  They want to be relevant and believe that the best way is to provide bigger and better programs.  The same “stuff”, the same “noise” of the outside world that outdoor ministry claims to provide sanctuary from is ultimately what drives them.

I prefer the slow and deliberate path towards a greater vision like the placing of a brick when you are sure that it fits.  I suppose that is why I’m so attracted to the simple blank slate which is Rockhaven.  Keeping it simple and going softly is a lesson I relearn every summer and as I stand amongst my “stuff” and my complicated, cluttered life I hope that I don’t stop learning.  I hope that when I return this Fall I can put it towards broader action, take it further, and just maybe stop paying for cable TV once and for all.  It of course is easier said than done and not hard to become buried in a quagmire of overwhelming clutter both spiritually and physically but as they say a journey of a thousand steps…  

I believe in simplicity.  I believe that we should keep it simple in learning, in ministry and in our very lives.   So, I’m packing light today.  I’m taking only what I need and all else be damned.  Like my good buddy Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

I wish everyone could be a part of Rockhaven’s growing, simple and inspirational ministry as well as our summer adventures in Montana; maybe if not physically, then in spirit, and through the stories I’ll tell here.

For now, pick up a piece of string and “Keep it Simple Stupid”!String Figure Girls

The law of parsimony – Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem, or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”

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"Education is not the filling of a pail but a lighting of a fire". W.B. Yeats


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