I hated going to Church Camp as a kid. It was our annual vacation.
Oh, the place was nice, beautiful actually. Camp Easter Seal was lovely, nestled in the mountains some where near New Castle, Virginia. A group of preachers and churches rented it for the last two weeks of the Summer each year, and after the Easter Seal people were done with it, we took over.
But, alas, we went to church camp every Summer. It was a long, arduous trip through Southern Ohio, West Virginia – all of it – and then into Virginia. Most of this was pre-Interstate. US 60 over mountain after mountain, with pit stops along the way.
There were puke stops too!
So many people, so much carsickness!
We usually stopped near St. Albans, WVA to have lunch, which our mothers had packed for us – mayonnaise and all. There was a park there, and it was about 1/2 way. Later on, after the church acquired an old school bus, we went by bus.
That, quite frankly, was even more unpleasant. We still stopped at the park.
And, when we got there, to camp, that is, – exhausted, tired, dirty, smelly, and quite grouchy – it was usually dinner time, and then a ‘service’ after that, in the Rec Hall.
There were some highlights along the way. US 60 offered beautiful vistas. We saw Hawk’s Nest, and Gauley Bridge. We took the West Virginia Turnpike back when it was a death strip. We begged the driver to hit the horn in the the tunnels on the pike, stop at the Glass House, and we waved at the old lady selling Chenille bed spreads. There were moon pies, RC Colas, and brand new exciting Mountain Dew, stuff like that.
There were events as well. Mother’s brakes failed on the Lion Bridge in Franklin, and she rear-ended Helen Wooddell’s 58 Mercury with her (Mom’s) 57 Chevy. Margaret Steinmetz passed out. Someone accidentally used Barb Pelfrey’s lunch bag as a trash bag – which I might add, did not go over well at all. Zola, Cookie, and many, many others barfed on every curve. Truckers gave us the finger. Things were thrown out the window. I’ll admit, there was some fun.
Oh yes, It was just a wonderland vaycay with a pixie dust ending!
Of course, the purpose of church camp was to bring kids closer to the LORD. And that often times did happen.
We had Bible Study in the morning, activities and naps in the afternoon, and a church like service at night. It was a little more relaxed than a regular church service – oh, who am I kidding – it was a lot more relaxed. We sang choruses before it was in to sing them, no one wore a tie – not even Daddy!
And we made new friends every Summer, some of whom we still hear from once in a while! And every once in a while, some couple fell in love.
I remember the food being pretty good, and the dishes were Hull pottery. Had I known then, what I know now, I’d have had to repent each year as I added to my collection! And at least, the dining hall was nice…deer heads and all!
There was a formal at the end of the week, called the Banquet. It was quite the big deal, and every one worked all week long to get a date for the banquet. Really, five days of speed dating before speed dating was ever invented.
Of course, those weren’t real dates. There was no PDA – AT ALL!
Mrs. Brodsky saw to that.
But, my memories of church camp aren’t speed dating and banquet ones, they are nightmare ones.
We all stayed in cabins, which was a lot better than having to stay in tents.
It was hardly camping at all.
But, there were issues.
Toothpaste in my hair at night – yes, I had hair. Snakes, frogs, and other fauna in my bed. Short sheeting, buckets of water over the door – yeah, it was a blast.
Oh, such memories – 40 years of therapy, and they’re still there. My only hero in the mix was Dan Burns, ever the pacifist, who usually made the other kids leave me alone.
And, I’ll admit it, I was a target.
So, this Spring when I heard the youth group at my church – Yellow River Baptist Church – was trying to raise money to go to church camp, I thought, “If they wanna go that bad, I’ll help them out.” And since they were offering to work for it, it was a win-win.
Last Saturday, five of them came over and ‘cleaned UP’ my yard. Really, it looked like a Delta Jet landed back there, and frankly, between the trips to NC, the work schedule, and the total lack of interest in yard work due to an over abundance of Copperheads, it was just OUT OF CONTROL!
So, over they came, work they did, and check I sent!
I always sent my kids to church camp, if they wanted to go, but I never made them go. And frankly, if these kids want to go, everyone should help.
So, I did.
But, I won’t be going!