This week, I’m blogging about LYFE Camp, the week-long United Methodist Church youth camp where I’m in my fourth year as Dean. While my blog is usually about creativity and writing, I hope regular readers and campers’ parents alike will find inspiration in reading stories about camp. Thanks for reading, and your comments are always appreciated (I’ll pass them along, too, as I’m able).
We tried our best. We sang “Johnny Appleseed” as grace for dinner at the beginning of the week and when it came time for the line, “the sun and the r— and the appleseed,” we sang like we always do: “the sun and the Son and the appleseed.” And yet, well, Tuesday was a rainy day. The nice thing about LYFE Camp, though, is that it’s adaptable.
Due to the rain, a few of our regular activities moved indoors throughout the day and evening. Afternoon recreation time was spent indoors in the Camp Center / Rec Center. Small group and pick-up volleyball games were on the indoor volleyball court with a boombox blaring tunes throughout the gym in lieu of the excellent sound system that SC Eric M. brought and set up for camp in Bent Twig – the cabin immediately facing the outdoor sand volleyball court and beachfront. We also had some basketball games like PIG as well as some guys tossing around the pigskin, while a diverse, co-ed group ranging from ages twelve to forty/fifty-something (I shall protect SC Robert B.’s age here…) got together for an intense game of Four Square. Meanwhile, a few groups lounged about in the Camp Center foyer, chatting away about camp stuff, back home stuff, and even some juicy celebrity gossip, thanks to a magazine brought by camper Caroline D.
When it was first erected around six years ago or so, I remember many folks first seeing this large indoor gym and foyer as a giant eyesore that felt too much like “the city” in the more rustic setting of the rest of Decision Hills. But on rainy days like this, it’s a wonderful place to have available. Our forecast says we may end up spending a little more time in the Rec Center, though I think our camp will pull through just fine. I’ve been at LYFE Camp when there was a torrential downpour or severe weather warning nearly every day, so a light rain shower here and there this week is nothing, relatively.
Today’s theme was “Construction Zone” and the SCs reminded campers that construction isn’t always pretty and it may take a long time, but God can provide the detours we need to make it through. There’s also the possibility that while we’re working on one construction project in our lives, another can rise up out of nowhere and need emergency work immediately. SC Robert B. drew parallels to the 35W Bridge collapse, a recent homegrown tragedy which campers could relate to and understand in terms of the metaphor of today’s theme. The campers also watched “Kung Fu Panda” for movie night, hopefully being able to walk away with the lesson that they can build themselves up and do great things while having a few laughs from all of the slapstick comedy. CITs Leandra L., Trevor N., and Zach S. presented the story of Zaccheus at evening worship as a lesson in learning it’s okay to make a change in oneself if they don’t like what they see. And after worship, due to the rain of course, we had an inside evening campfire. Eric M. played his guitar, as always, and I jammed with my ukulele as everyone sang in a circle in the dining hall with a campfire made of assorted candles.
One thing that still happened outdoors despite the wet grass and chilled air was serenades. As is our tradition, guy cabins serenade the girl cabins and ask them if they may have the honor of escorting them to the dress-up dinner on Wednesday evening. I didn’t have a chance to see and hear all of the serenades, but I can tell you that what I did see was sweet, fun, and brought a smile to my face as I remembered what it was like to be thirteen. My favorite serenade was Southwest Back cabin laying their towels on the ground a la magic carpet and singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin for the young ladies of Southwest Front cabin. I like the serenades because it’s a low-key, low-stakes way of intermingling guys and girls in a sweet way with just a touch of young tension. I think campers like serenades purely for the tension. I know I did.
Highlights off the top of my head include the Excelsior UMC seventh grade girls holding their own in Four Square against older, more aggressive male players, SCs Abbi D. and Wright B. leading a slew of afternoon pick-up volleyball games, creating a new inside joke for the Word of the Day (Call: “Do you remember the windmill?” Response: [knowingly] “Windmiiill!”), CITs Pete S. and Lucas J. keeping the tradition of “feeding” each other grilled cheese and tomato soup lunch alive, strong, and disgusting, hearing the touching story behind the hat Chaplain Kent J. has chosen to wear this week, singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” in a round during mail call, knowing that small groups are really connecting well, a few choice rhymes during the song “Down By the Bay” including “Have you ever seen Dana do the Macarena?” and, when responding to the question “Choose your top three animals that can fly” out of a book of questions during SC Night Out, SC Robert responding with, “Bats, flying squirrels, and kites.”
Wednesday brings more small group time, the beginning of the volleyball tournament bracket system, our dress-up dinner, and the all-important, all-anticipated, all-camp dance.