July 8th, 2011


I've got good news and bad news

The good news is we're all back safe and sound from Church Camp. We had a great time. Pix will follow.

The bad news is all the stuff coming at me via e-mail that must be answered ASAP. No rest for the weary, I guess.

But, as Miss Scarlett said, "Tomorrow is another day."
mad hatter


My first thought was, This can't be good. The IRS sent our refund check this week. It's for seven times the already hefty amount I requested; and, of course, there was no explanation (those come by separate mail). I can't see any way I've overpaid my taxes to that extent, so it's off to Bureaucrat Central on Monday to ask what happened. Meanwhile, I'm not touching that check without a HAZMAT suit.

Family Camp, Part One

It was a long week. A good week, be it noted, but days spent in the sun doing lots of high-energy things -- and without the benefit of a heavily defined schedule with "break" written on it -- make for a lot of tired campers.

The Conference church camp program having priced itself out of our campers' range -- and also having moved Family Camp far away where nobody had ever been -- Amy and Julie came to me, asking if I could organize a Family Camp for our church. It was my pleasure to do so. I wrote an easy schedule, but with all the things you'd want to prevent boredom. We had morning Bible study, followed by recreation. After lunch, we swam and did crafts. In the evening, we did some more games and things, ending with devotions and snacks.

Oh, yeah, and since I was organizing it, you know we stuffed everybody like little sausages. We finally had to punt on one snack menu and one dessert, in order to push the leftovers at people. And still there was plenty. The kids took turns cooking and cleaning, with adult direction. They did fine.

I hadn't been to Temple Hills in sixteen years, but it was mostly the same. The lodge is big and commodious. There are places to build fires, a couple of chapel settings, a lake to swim and fish in, a big ball field. They even have a primitive camping area. We had the place pretty much to ourselves for our whole time there.

Life's a beach Life's a beach
Abby on our orientation walk of Temple Hills
Yes, she can Yes, she can
Julie CAN cook, she just doesn't, usually
So can they So can they
Neely and Chelsea in the kitchen
Tired Tired
Playground by the retreat lodge
Time to get up, Harrison Time to get up, Harrison
or have your picture posted online for all to see
Playing games Playing games
Amy prepares to toss up a ball in a game in the activity field


Family Camp, Part Two

The thing that makes Family Camp different from other church camps is that it is widely integrated, age wise. Our oldest youth camper was sixteen, our youngest, just five. Ian had seen big brother and sister go off to camp his whole life, and he was eager to be old enough to go. It was a big adjustment to have to sleep with the big boys (Mommy was on the other side of the lodge with the girls), but he toughed it out.

Everyone, young and old, was trying new things, and there were some milestones. Sometimes, that involved trying new foods (I refuse to capitulate to some kids' desire to eat nothing but junk). Other times, milestones were found in learning new skills or gathering up one's courage to jump off the dock a little farther than ever before.

In a widely-graded camp, learning to accommodate each other is really important. Younger and older kids mix together, and everybody joins in the fun. Bible study has to be pitched to allow for an easy grasp; luckily, easy doesn't preclude the profound. We studied the creation stories (Genesis 1-3). Everybody took turns saying grace before meals. On our last night, we celebrated Holy Communion.

Testing the waters Testing the waters
Swimming is a high point for camp
Launch! Launch!
Ian takes the plunge for the first time
Splish splash Splish splash
Frolicking in the lake
Hangin' with the guys Hangin' with the guys
I can see them twenty years from now on the same couch; the things they talk about change, but the way they relate to each other doesn't.
You will be assimilated You will be assimilated
Blob tag
Movin' on down the road Movin' on down the road
Heading down to the beach

his friend Jesus

Family Camp, Part Three

We did three crafts at Family Camp. On Tuesday, we made our own camp t-shirts. Each camper brought a shirt from home. I had made up a bazillion iron-on transfers, serious, outdoorsy, and funny. The campers decorated their shirts according to their personal taste. Wednesday, we learned how to make baskets. I was prepared to lead the adventurous far afield, but everybody stayed at the beginners' level, which was fine. Better to be prepared for more but settle for less than to have some say that things were too simple. Last night, we made scented earth candles.

We played an old favorite game where you throw a ball up and everybody runs until you get control of it. Then you try to knock people out. I could NOT think of the name of the game. Deanne just reminded me that it's called Spud. (Showing my age, I guess.)

We went fishing. We had an epic water balloon fight. We played cards. I sang and played my guitar, to the bemusement of several (my taste has been formed by years of Scout camp and backcountry campfires). All in all, it was a great time.

Basket cases Basket cases
Logan and Chelsea learn how to weave a basket
Cleaning up Cleaning up
Zach, Harrison, and Logan do dishes
Witness Witness
The cross on the dam stands over the spot where many a baptism has been celebrated
Monkeying around Monkeying around
The fish weren't biting, so . . .
Off-duty mermaids Off-duty mermaids
Abby, Neely, Chelsea after a swim
Water balloon fight Water balloon fight
Neely on the prowl


An old camp song, finished

The first lines of this came to me years ago; the missing lines, just last week.

You fill up my senses
like an open-air sewer,
like a garbage dump burning,
like a skunk in the road,
like an overfull trash can,
like a teenager’s gym bag.
You fill up my senses,
please go take a bath.