The title does not mean the kind of camping that was described in one of the best pieces of writing I've read in a long time - by my good friend Robin. Check it out for a good chuckle or two. I agree with Becky, that you couldn't pay me enough to do that kind of camping!
But going to camp - now that's a different story entirely. I love Bible camp. Camp has been a part of my life since I was a little girl. The memories just poured in this morning when Care Bear left for her first camp experience. She's only going into second grade, but we have a mini camp for kids that young. She was so excited all week, and up until the moment everyone started arriving. I wanted to take a picture of her with her suitcase and sleeping bag. Then she suddenly felt like this:
I finally got her to pose with the luggage in the back of the van. The green sleeping bag you see went to camp with both Kristen and Kevin, as well as her half brother, Anthony, a couple of years ago. It could tell lots of stories!
The report later in the day is that the four little girls are settled in the same cabin and doing fine - I can only imagine the amount of giggling ahead!
One reason this was so nostalgic was that when Kristen was 6, they had this same kind of camp - I took a carload of 6 first graders to camp, and got to stay for the 3 days and enjoy the beauty of that spot in the mountains. I also helped out in the kitchen and even enjoyed that.
When I was single, when I was teaching and had summers off, I spent two summers counseling at that same camp. Such good memories. Such a beautiful place. Summer camp is a place that kids get close to nature and close to God. It is where many children commit their lives to Jesus.
But my memories go way back - to when I was younger than Care Bear. Mom and Dad moved our family to a little place in Arkansas - on the grounds of Trails End Bible Camp. They worked with Child Evangelism Fellowship and we spent our days visiting little country schools, telling Bible stories, singing songs (a trio, my sister, brother, and me, aged 4, 3, and 2 - see next picture). Can you believe that was allowed?? What good days those were in that respect. The children earned their way to camp by learning scripture verses. The camp was rustic, but all I remember is the fun of being around those big kids as they came each week.
I began going as a camper when I was in third grade. I went every year through high school, and then worked at camp the summer before college. We didn't have much money in those days, so in our family we earned our way to camp by working in the school cafeteria.
I have gone back to camp in my mind today - the new friends, the games, the crafts, the times of study, the week-long romances (which never happened for me!), the evening campfires with crazy skits, inspiring singing, challenging messages; the final banquet - the spiritual growth.
Lining up for chow.
One year my sister and I ended up working in the kitchen (are you sensing a pattern here?) We had to get up way before anyone else to get breakfast going. We had to hurriedly clean our rooms (there was inspection every day!), then head for the dining hall. We worked very hard, but had so much fun. The next year we worked at children's camp so that we didn't have to work at our own. Two weeks of fun! Here are the two guys on our crew - really fun guys.
I am so glad I have such rich memories. Camp continues to impact the lives of so many young people. The camp where Care Bear is this week recruits college students to work as staff every summer. They not only earn a scholarship for school the next year, but they make life long friends - and my nephew met his wife there and they were married there on the grounds of the camp 5 years ago. It is where Dan was last year when he woke up in heaven - and now a chapel is being built and named for him, dedicated to his memory.