Saturday, May 23, 2009

Church Summer Camp

For years, I attended church summer camp growing up, from the time I was about six years old. It was always part of my summer vacation experience. The first couple of years were at Camp Cook Springs in AL. This summer outdoor recreational center had 18 wooded acres with an artesian spring-fed lake and pine needle cushioned trails. You slept in a crude cabin lined with cots while listening to crickets and batting chiggers. You ate in the dining hall filled with rows of wooden tables and birch tree benches. Evening services were held outdoors, each cabin sat on a blanket.

I always looked forward to the fun and entertainment. Activities were organized by a loving group of volunteers and parents. I remember over-scheduled days (7:00am - 11:pm non-stop activities) designed to create order by wearing out the campers. I remember the event signals: clanging bell, taps, and revele. Thoughts that come to mind: swimming, forced hiking, music, arts & crafts (lanyards, macramé, leather wallets), games (4 square, kickball, tag, water balloon toss, pillow fights), drama (improv skits, kangaroo court, "Doctor Doctor"), group discussions, talent shows, mess hall duty, devotionals, chapel, worship, and bible classes. Each day an award was given to the cleanest cabin, the reward was having possession of the coveted stuffed mascot. On the last evening of camp, we had a banquet. A boy could ask a girl to attend and you were allowed to sit by him (it was a big deal). Campers had voted during the week and awards were given: king, queen, prince, princess, most talented, camp comedian, etc... On the last day of camp, we would have our friends sign our autograph book with their address so that we could write to them when we got back home.

Music was a large part of camp. We sang silly fun songs and we sung sacred Christian songs. Fun songs like: Do Your Ears Hang Low, Found a Peanut, B-I-N-G-O, Out in the Woods, Boom Boom Ain't It Great to be Crazy, On Top of Ol' Smoky, My Hat It Has 3 Corners, Head & Shoulders Knees & Toes, and Yes We Have No Bananas. Church songs like: Kumbaya, Joy Down in My Heart, Praise Ye the Lord, If You're Saved & You Know It, Do Lord Remember Me, I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, I Am a C I Am a Ch..., Pass It On, So Rise & Shine & Give God the Glory, King of Kings and Lord or Lords, He's Got the Whole World, and This is the Day.

Originally, church summer camp was created to nurture the body, mind, and spirit of youth in a natural setting. It was a setting to teach about Jesus and deepen our walk with Him. Concentrated blocks of time were provided to establish and grow a relationship with the Lord. It gave kids the chance to make new friends, discover interests, and learn about life. It gave a chance to develop personal strength and self-confidence.

It was a period of time away from home, a time to learn from other influences: teachers, counselors, ministers, and friends. For me, it was an enriching childhood experience that contributed to the person I have become today. I have fond memories that I cherish.

For your enjoyment:

Hello Muddah, hello Faddah
Here I am at Camp
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivey
He developed poison ivyY
ou remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

All the counselors hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach wants no sissies
So he reads to us from something called Ulysses

Now I don’t want this should scare ya’
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember Jeffery Hardy
They’re about to organize a searching party

Take me home, oh Muddah, Faddah
Take me home, I hate Grenada
Don’t leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear

Take me home, I promise I will
Not make noise, or mess the house with
Other boys, oh please don’t make me stay
I’ve been here one whole day

Dearest Fadduh, Darling Muddah
How’s my precious little bruddah
Let me come home if you miss me
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me

Wait a minute, it’s stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that’s bettah
Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter.

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