Our summer staff left last Friday, so as this week began, we started a new chapter in the camp year: the chapter 3, the fall retreat season. It is that feeling after the rain lifts or the snow melts. You step outside and your hearing is a little keaner. There are different, new sounds, and these sounds are not as loud as the ones previous. You hear water dripping from leaves. You notice the morning doves when they flutter away as you approach. A peacefulness has settled over the camp, and you listen almost expecting to hear echoes from the children, youth, and staff who have just recently left our gates. Instead you hear the birds and a faint breeze rustling the leaves that have already begun to fall from the yellow poplars.
On Tuesday night, Jason’s Deli of Jackson, TN hosted a “Lakeshore Night,” where 10% of their night’s sales were donated to the camp. Many of the staff went up to support the event. Several years ago, I had a few campers arriving on their first day of camp tell me that they had named a sandwich after me. I was a little confused at first, but after having it explained, I learned that there was a sandwich at Jason’s Deli, originally called “the Ranger,” that these campers had started calling, “the Troy.” I was flattered by this and vowed that I would have to try it someday. Over time “the Ranger,” was dropped from the menu, but you can still ask for it, and they’ll make it for you. It is roastbeef and bacon with melted cheddar cheese and jalepenos. I finally tasted it, and was satisfied to have my name associated with it. I talked to Dannon (one of the campers who renamed the sandwich) about it, and told her that the sandwich got my seal of approval. She said that now that she was a vegetarian, she couldn’t eat it, but that she remembered how good it was when she was still a carnivore.
When I arrived to Jason’s Deli at 4:00pm, the Lakeshore Staff and the Jason’s Deli staff were pretty well the only people there. It was not to stay that way, though. We could not believe all the people who showed up to buy dinner and help us out. There were points when there were no seats available to sit in, and people were still standing in line to buy sandwiches. I got to visit with so many people of so many different ages. It was really great to get that support. There’s just something about getting support in these unconventional ways, whether it’s just seeing a bunch of bodies in line because they know their supper will help you or choosing to associate a beloved sandwich forever with your name (even if you don’t eat it anymore). We have seen so many signs of support, that it would take much longer than I have to write here to name them all. But we see them. We see them in so many places.
This weekend we have children and youth from Northside UMC and Collierville UMC. Keep all of them in your prayers.