Brendan McLean's Story

This past summer, I spent part of my summer at Westminster Woods for my tenth year and my first year as a counselor. Even as I write that sentence, it is hard to believe that it has been ten years since my first summer at the Woods. This place has become one of my favorite places in the world and the memories I have made there are treasures that I could have not gotten anywhere else in the world. God freely gave these treasures to me through the endless list of people who made the camp run (Brian and Diane, counselors, nurses, Lou Crew, kitchen workers, volunteers, maintenance works, etc.). The story that I share with the Woods is indebted to these people, whom I thank God for anytime I think of the Woods.
My story at the Woods begins when I was a third grader. At my home church, I had always heard about the camp every summer since I can remember. The older kids would always be so excited to spend a week at this place and the pastor would not stop talking about it when summer came around. So I waited until I finished third grade to experience what the big commotion was all about. I can admit that I was a little nervous as soon as the bus pulled up into the camp and I got off to register. It was the first time I was away from home without my family. Thank God that this brave new world was Westminster Woods, because that next week planted a seed in my life that is still growing to this day. When the bus came back to pick me and the other campers up at the end of the week, I can remember thinking that I finally understood what the commotion was about and that I couldn’t wait until I got to go back to the Woods again.
As my life progressed and I got older, my child-like sense of wonder began to clash with the reality around me. Things like responsibility and accountability started to become more important in my life. I began to deal with things like divorce and death, which weighed me down and my youth began to fade. All of this culminated when my father died during my freshman year of high school. I was forced to deal with very real pain at a young age, which afflicted me for many years to follow. Even as I reflect on these happenings in my life, I am reminded of how Westminster Woods was constant in a time when not much else seemed to stay. It was at the Woods that I felt God’s grace and found people to cry and laugh with. I came to terms with what I was going through and had some of the greatest joys at this place in a time that I felt hurt. It was at the Woods that I became thankful for what I had instead of miserable for what I lost. God truly transformed my life using the Woods. I’m glad to say I have still retained my curiosity even as I have grown older and begun to assimilate into the “adult world”, and I have God and the Woods to thank for that.
Over the past ten years, the world around me has drastically changed. As a college student, I find that change is something that happens everyday in my life. This change, along with the some of the adjustments I am still dealing with in my life, can be very stressful. Yet, I know that it is God who is promised to be there by my side through whatever transformations my life goes through. I know this because I was and forever am a camper of Westminster Woods.      Brendan McLean
Happy 50th, Westminster Woods!