We have reached what some might call the slow time at camp. We don’t have any sizable groups to speak of until the first full weekend in January. So, the weekend work at camp has slowed to a halt. In my first year of work here, when the position, Program Director, was still being established, I had trouble finding things to do during this time. Many staff people take their vacation time now, so I found myself alone in the office many days. I spent some times of that first year playing Nintendo games from my childhood on the computer, hoping that someone would call. These days, I would hardly call our days slow. The phone calls have diminished, and there does seem to be more of a quiet passing over the camp, but there is much to do. This is the time of year to do those things you have put off. It is the time to make phone calls, plan programming. It is the time to gather things up for later.
The maintenance staff has spent much of the week cutting wood. We have dropped a few trees that posed some danger to power lines and people. In the area of land where the Calhoun and Hopper lodges now stand, there used to be a fairly thick grove of trees. Of course, when the lodges were built, the trees were leveled, then cut up, burned, or buried under the soccer field. A few were left that stood below the lodges, but many of those died in the subsequent years. I guess the disturbance in the ground that the lodges brought was too much for their root systems. A large white oak along with a few shag bark hickories stop baring leaves a few summers back, and that’s the beginning of the end. Before long, they would shed twigs, then branches, then limbs, and in a worst case scenario, trunk. So, the power company came out, dropped the power lines, then dropped the dead trees along with a few pines in the same place that they said needed to go as well.
So, Corky, Travis, Jim, and Josh have had to turn a few 60 foot trees into manageable firewood logs . It has taken about a week to get them all cut and split. So, if you make it to a Lakeshore winter function and are lucky enough to find yourself in front of a warm fireplace or a camp fire, it is likely going to be from one of these trees.
One of the basketball goals in the Alford Recreation area has been lowered. These goals are usually locked, so they will stay at 10 feet, but this one, for whatever reason, has been lowered to at least 8 feet. It will be in our best interest to get the goal raised soon, before one too many dunkers rests his/her body weight on it. The goal is about the height of a basketball goal that was in my parents’ basement for many years. When I was a teenager, I loved to play basketball, and my dream was to dunk. The cards were against me, because I’m 5’10” on a good day and was not blessed with any special jumping abilities. I felt (still do feel) that I could dunk if I worked hard enough at it (there was a guy, Spud Webb, who was 5’4″ and dunked) I could train myself to dunk. It was challenging but not unheard of. But, in the mean time, I could practice my dunking technique on a smaller goal. So, I asked my dad if we could build a goal in our basement, and he consented. And, over time, I got pretty good at dunking on a short goal. I could do 360s, windmills, behind the back, tomahawks, and bounce and catch moves from any part of the basement. All that time, though, I was not training enough to be able to dunk on a regular sized goal. It would have taken way more time in the gym and on the courts than I was willing to devote.
Gary had surgery on his wrist this week over a fall that you could probably call a textbook case of things not to do on a ladder. Gary was hanging garland on the gutters outside the Conference Center. He leaned off the ladder to try to stand on the black railing on our ramps, started to spin, and had a fall. He came in holding his arm in a very noticeable amount of pain. He is very lucky to just have a broken arm. We all occasionally make these ill-advised decisions, probably in the name of wanting to just do something ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking, “We got it,” and do some things we would never let someone else do on their own.
How interesting how what’s important can change. One moment you think that the secret to happiness will be to throw that basketball through the rim with the authority of a powerful man, whenever you get that open look at the basket. You want so bad to do what you see Michael Jordan do, that no one can defend even when they know it’s coming. Then you are looking back, understanding the amount of work it would have taken to do that. You look down at your arm, bent the wrong way, pulsing pain, then look up at the garland yet to be strung, and you suddenly have a new priority. You take walks, you read things, you are drawn into something new. You never would have thought you might spend hours learning about trees or history or wind patterns or art therapy or conservation, but here you are soaking it up.
You are rushing to the hospital. You are planning what to read this evening. You are making time for the one you love, who you’ve committed your life to. You cooking dinner–you never thought you would cook. You are exercising, because you can’t take letting yourself go anymore. You are making time to stop each day and have some quiet time. How could you have possibly imagined you’d be doing this thing in this moment with these people. It is a dream. You have been traveling to this place for a while. And, you have farther to go.
I can remember years ago, scouting out the area where the Hopper Lodge stands with my good friend Steven. It was overgrown with trees and vines. There were piles of leaves nearly a foot deep in places. We were scouting this place for a worship for an upcoming camp. I had never really walked in this spot before. It was so overgrown and wild. It took some work to get a place cleared for worship. On that spot there was an old slab of concrete. What it used to be, I can only guess–I’ve never talked to anyone who recalls it. Then, we could have hid there for days without being found. Today, we would be in one of Hopper’s downstairs bedrooms. The trees we stood under are buried under the soccer field, burned, or on their way to being firewood. Then I could not have imagined a two story lodge would be where we stood and did a worship on a windy summer night.
Where will we be tomorrow, a few years from now, decades in the future? I know about as well as I did that day I asked the guy in the gym to put together a program for me to train to dunk. It is disappointing that I never threw the ball down on a regular goal, and it’s pretty certain I never will. But, those things that have come instead, have been sprinkled with pleasant surprises. May our surprises be pleasant this season, regardless of how expected they may be.