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Camp stories, part 4 June 25, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Church.

I’m back home now, having successfully caught a standby flight at O’Hare three and a half hours early. While I was away I was able to start working on the annual camp DVD. I spend way too long on it every year, but it’s a lot of fun. This year’s Campalot DVD should be a unique challenge, since I have a couple of thousand pictures from seven or eight different cameras.

The pictures remind me of some of the funny little things that happened at camp that I’ve already forgotten about. That tends to happen when so much is packed into every day. There was the afternoon when shrill screams emerged from the girls’ side. They had spotted a little reptilian friend who apparently lives in a railroad tie under one of the cabins. I defy you to spot the snake in the picture below:


Even that little guy would have been enough to send some folks I know high-tailing it for home (I’m thinking of you, mom!), so I suppose I should applaud the girls (and their counselors) for their resilience.

And then there was the “human catapult” we built with a boat oar. I had saved a few bags full of grits from that morning’s breakfast, and they had, well, congealed. We had a few kids stand close together as the castle wall, and another few form themselves together as fulcrum and catapult operator. We placed little banana-sized solid grit masses on the oar and launched. My favorite was the last and largest one, which went straight into the air and almost landed back on the catapulters.

Other events are more prominent in my memory, and I need no picture to prompt the recollections. We had several adults teaching Bible studies for the first time, and they did a remarkable job. For kids in a summer camp to get excited about studying Old Testament kings for an hour and a half each day tells you how good the studies were, and reminds me of how extraordinary the source material is. In one study about Josiah we got to explain the fulfillment of a 300 year-old prophecy, when the king stood on the hillside containing the tomb of the man who, centuries before, had prophesied Josiah’s very actions on that day and even called him by name. The kids gasped audibly as they heard the tale unfold, straight from the Word.

 I will not soon forget our last night together, when all our talk of royalty turned upside down in the form of a painful crown of thorns. We struggled to grasp the enormity of a King of kings trading a crown of gold for an utterly debasing crown of thorns because He knew it was the only way to save us. We sang a song that asked,

“Why did it have to be a thorny crown pressed upon His head?
It should have been a royal one made of jewels and gold instead.

It had to be a crown of thorns, because in this life that we live,
For all those to seek to love a thorn is all the world has to give.”

Then we walked silently to a campfire, a little bit broken in the realization that we are so unworthy of this sacrifice, and then we sang our response to Jesus, we who are forgiven because He was forsaken, we who are accepted because He was condemned:

“You are my King.”


I see the camp kids at church now, or in the neighborhood, and we lock eyes. We are a cadre still, and a simple glance is a testimony to our shared experience. We smile, exchange a greeting, perhaps repeating one of our camp catchphrases, “Off with your head!” or “I got better!” (Don’t ask.) Then we go on about our ways, grateful for another little reminder that we are a chosen people, that we are royalty.



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