Kamp Kahlil: New Weekend Resource for Community Youth
Story and photos by Zoë Dunning
It was a quiet Saturday evening when I arrived at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church near Loch Lloyd. As I stepped out from my vehicle, the day’s last rays of sun gleamed off of the golden archway cresting the church entrance. Walking past the church office building known as the “House of Grace”, I passed underneath a wooden trailhead printed with the words “Kamp Khalil”. Following the path, I passed a community garden before I came upon a meadow framed by a canopy of trees. It was largely undisturbed but for a lone tractor working near the tree line. I could hear the croaking of frogs and the calls of redwing blackbirds as twilight began to descend. The buzzing of insects accompanied me as I walked throughout the property and explored St. Mary Magdalene’s emerging campground.
St. Mary Magdalene, on 160th & Holmes Road, is an Episcopal church led by Reverend Evan Ash. The congregation’s self-proclaimed slogan is “Ordinary people loving and serving the Lord with joy and thanksgiving”, and their mission is to be a spiritual home for people. Although the church is only a few minutes from the Loch Lloyd residential areas, you would not be able to tell from the fields and woods that occupy several acres of land. It is there that Kamp Khalil is situated.
“Khalil” comes from ancient Hebrew and Greek and means “friend” or “friend of God” and is the name attributed to Abraham in the Bible. Kamp Khalil is, as Reverend Ash describes it, “St. Mary Magdalene’s small area for weekend camping for the surrounding community.” Congregation members and locals had been asking Reverend Ash for some time if he would consider providing a camping ground, so finally, the church began constructing it this summer.
Kamp Khalil is intended primarily for youth who range from six years old to high school age, as well as their troop or youth group leaders. The campground is available for groups of about thirty campers for weekend stays (Friday evening through Sunday evening). “One troop is coming [this weekend] early Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon,” Reverend Ash shares. Basic amenities include a water source, electricity, Porta Potties, and shelter during unexpected bad weather in the House of Grace. Parking is also available. While there is no cost associated with renting the space, they do suggest a donation of $1 a day per camper.
As of fall 2017, the campground includes a fire pit in the center of the camping area, a European-modeled labyrinth/maze, open fields to pitch tents, and woods that stretch as far as the eye can see. They are continuing to develop the property. Speaking of the church’s future plans, Reverend Ash says, “We eventually hope to have a game pad, basketball courts, and volleyball, which would be south of the campfire ring [in a designated area].” One of their current projects, assisted by Eagle Scouts, is cutting through the woods to create a trail. They collect fallen wood in the process to utilize as firewood in the cold months to come.
“My favorite thing about the property is the [animal population]. I’ve seen woodchucks, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, and vultures,” Reverend Ash remarks. “Kamp Khalil is a resource for young people in the area, and I know they will enjoy the wildlife presence.” By supplying a place for local scouting troops, youth groups, and other church-related organizations to stay, the camp is the church’s way of blessing the community and leaving an impactful legacy.