Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A-Camping We Will Go!

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.

The old swimming hole.

Cheering for the team --

The winning team --

The goofy gang - can you tell which one is me? I thought I was overweight in those days - oh, my, how I wish I was fat like that again!

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.


Needled Mom said...

What a wonderful post, Dawn. It sounds like such a fun experience for you with such wonderful memories.

I remember going to camp one year when I was nine and had the best time there. The friendships made were so great.

I'm glad that Care Bear is able to enjoy the experience of it too.

Becky said...

I always found it very hard to send my kids to sleep away camp. I think it is because I always hated going. I wanted to stay home, just like I want to stay home today. But I sent them, and they always had a great time. I am glad they did not get my homebody gene.

Great "old" pictures. I think you are the second from the left.

Sherry said...

Fun stuff! Camp holds a special spot in our hearts no doubt. We are planning on going a few days before the reunion to hang out. Can't wait...and can you believe it is actually 7 years? Went by fast :)

Midlife Mom said...

Wow, did this post ever ring true to me! I can so relate to your camp experiences as we have always gone to Camp Fair Haven in Brooks Maine not too far from when Kev is. I spent one summer taking care of the horses which I loved more then anything. The skits that the staff would do at night in chapel would make us roll right on the floor laughing practically! I remember the first day I was there as a counselor and we were at lunch and all of a sudden everyone started singing, "Miss Louise strong and able, get your elbows off the table!" I was mortified! lol!

Do hope that Care Bear has a wonderful time and the beginning of many years going to camp. Great post and loved all the pictures!! xoxo

grammy said...

Good old church camp. I have a lot of the same memories. I went to a camp in Como Colorado. Loved the summers of working there with a crew of teenagers. Boy was that fun.

Nadine said...

I enjoyed reading your post and taking a peek into your memories of camp. I do remember the story about Dan.

A Hint of Home said...

I hope care bear has a wonderful time at camp. Loved your pictures and the memories you shared about your experiences at camp.

Mary said...


I never went to summer camp in my life, but made sure Michelle got to go. She only went once. Some kids knocked down and bees nest and well, you can imagine what happened. She wasn't stung but seeing the others stung so badly they had to go to the hospital frightened her and she wouldn't go back. Brandon and Jordan just went to day camp.

Wonderful memories and I enjoyed the photos. Hope you have a great week.


Robin said...

Oh what wonderful memories you shared! I, too, loved church camp and looked forward to it every single year. I remember the first year I was so homesick that I cried during "bunk time" every afternoon. But I was just stubborn enough to not give in to it.
Your pictures are wonderful. I have looked and looked and I can't decide which one of those girls is you. Do tell!

Linda said...

What wonderful memories Dawn. You and I are so blessed to have grown up in Christian homes. The lack of material things was more than compensated for by the richness of the experiences. You took me back with you to my times in Camp. I loved it!

Maine Mom said...

I hope Care Bear has a wonderful time! That is so neat that this camp continues to be enjoyed by your family. Fun pictures!

Have a great weekend!

Tammy said...

Dawn, loved seeing these wonderful camp pictures...what wonderful memories.
Wow, my youngest got so fearful of the Missionette sleepover at our church she had to come home with us that night...not sure she could do 3! But it was large church and not very cozy, so a different atmosphere.

Thank you so much for praying for me during this difficult time. You don't know how much I need those prayers...
I truly hope it doesn't prevent me from home schooling, unless God leads me away from it...but the good news is that I'm not suppose to always feel this crummy so it shouldn't be a problem to let the children continue at home. However this past week I pretty much had to just tell the to "go do your math book" ect...but hopefully I will be feeling good again and there's meds that can control this illness.

nancygrayce said...

I loved camp! Our church camp was at the beach 15 miles from our home. The week there was like being across the world. I loved it, but when I saw my mama, I cried like a baby (o.k. I almost was a baby) and realized I actually had been homesick!

Yes, to be that fat again would be great! :)

Christa said...

What fun, I remember going to camp as a child. My kids did with the youth groups at church (I chaperoned some of the beach trips)
What great memories you have. God bless

groovyoldlady said...

I went to many and diverse camps from 4th grade on...each one has its own special memories.

Grammy and Olivia said...

I love that you have pictures from camp. I don't think I have any. I LOVE camp. I spent most of my growing up at camp. Always at least one week as a camper and then my parents would volunteer to work at least one week. As adults we have done the same, our kids were campers at least one week during the summer and then we always worked as faculty one week. I even got engaged to my sweet hubby while working as camp staff one summer. Ahhh, the happy memories. Hope your little sweetie is beginning a her pnoto album of happy camp memories too!

SentimentsbyDenise said...

I have such fabulous memories of camp myself - especially teen camp! And it was at teen camp when I was 13 that I fully committed my life to Christ!
Such great memories, fun times, and wonderful friendships!