It’s that time of year, where we take kids to and from camp, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. I’m halfway through the camp season, and I’m getting tired of taking kids back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It’s in these moments, I need some perspective.
The early years of my camping experience was at Pine Lake in Iowa. Every year, we’d load up on the big black school bus, with our church name painted on the side, and prayed we’d get there safely. No, seriously, our bus wasn’t that reliable.
I vaguely remember the time I spent swimming, and I vaguely remember meals, but there are some things I remember clearly:
+I remember earning my way to camp. We were given a piece of paper, folded in half, with dates and church events written on the four sides and five options to read a book on the very back. Every service, every time we brought our Bibles to church, every verse we memorized, and every time we brought dues to Sunday School, was 50 cents off of the full price of camp. My dad was cheaper than cheap, so we earned every 50 cents possible!
+I remember homesickness. My very first year, I wrote a letter on the first day about how I hated everyone and just wanted to go home. The lesson I had yet to learn was that it takes time to adjust to being away from home. When my parents received my letter in the mail, they were greatly concerned, but were thrilled when I jumped off the bus and wanted to know when I could go again next year.
+I still can name several of the kids I met while there. I have fond memories of them and created pen pals that lasted into Middle School and High School.
+I remember singing, “Awesome God,” “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” and “It Only Takes A Spark” by the campfires and being fearless to give my testimony in front of everyone (something that went away with age). I recall one time when our pastor’s daughter said she wanted to do sign language interpretation when she grew up, and I thought she was crazy! (Anyone who knows me well, will know the irony in that thought. )
+I remember lining up by cabin every morning and singing, “Way up in the sky, the little birds fly” song on top of our lungs, and whoever sang the loudest went in first for breakfast. And there are memories of also singing “This Is The Day” Jamaican style. There were tons of songs I learned at camp that I can still sing word for word, today, 20 years later.
+I remember every cabin was required to do a skit every year. One year, we did a skit to Michael W. Smith’s, “Place In This World”. I think I was a drug dealer for it… or at least one in the bad crowd.
+I remember carpet ball. I would play that game for HOURS! I LOVED carpet ball! Seriously, we need to bring this game back to popularity! Best. Game. Ever.
+I remember the year my pastor turned 40 at camp. His daughter and I looked all over the camp all week long, for forty snails to put under his covers for him to find when he went to bed. We found A LOT of snails, however, we were too chicken to follow through with it. Lucky for him! On another note though, we all got to throw 40 balloons at him on the morning of his birthday. I am grateful I will never celebrate my 40th birthday at camp.
+I remember getting snacks every night after chapel. We got Fireballs and then we would soak them in water until the hot flavor was gone and then we’d eat them… (Why in the world pay for that? Because we were kids and it was once a year that Mom and Dad didn’t control our spending. That’s why.)
+I remember playing capture the flag. It was always boys against girls. The older I got, the more I hated that game.
+I remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade (the last year I attended), sitting up late… REALLY late with our camp counselor just talking about God. It was one of the best nights at camp I ever had! I guess, that desire for theological conversation has always been in me, I just didn’t recognize it until I was older.
I would like to share that my life absolutely changed at camp, and every year I went back a totally different person. I’m not sure that I can say that is true. Looking back on those years, though, the one thing I learned that I wasn’t even aware of was I was in the process of learning what it meant to Kingdom live. I met people there from different cultures and learned about various countries. I was learning how to resolve conflict with the girls I felt were ‘stuck up snots’ without my parents around. I was learning how to discover myself and who I was away from my family. I learned how to be a good winner and loser with carpet ball. I learned the importance of memory making–although, I was completely unaware of it at the time. And I was learning about Jesus too. Those were good years filled with good memories that I wouldn’t give up for the world! The best part is that I get to take kids to and from camp, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, so that someday, they may be sitting in my chair writing a blog similar to this one. You just never know who a kid will grow up to be.
And seriously, people! Let’s bring carpet ball back!