Even after the rains stopped this week, the river continued to rise. It rose higher than we have ever seen it. Places I thought were untouchable by flood waters sit a foot or two under cover of this swelled lake. You cannot see the volleyball net posts on the beach. Our large dock almost floated off of the poles that hold it in places. The poles are typically about 10 feet tall when you stand on the dock. The maintenance staff took the john boat out and tied the boathouse, ramp, and several other waterfront structures to the shore. The boathouse began floating. Fisherman have been drawn to the new edge of the water like a catfish to a nightcrawler. Out the window, we see men standing in front of what normally is the garden labyrinth, casting their lines. A bass boat pulled through our soccer field and trolled along over the labyrinth.
We’ve had several school groups come to visit this week: Grace Saint Lukes and Briarcrest. Grace Saint Lukes joined us at the beginning of the week and did a snakes lesson, creek lesson, then a night hike. At the end of the night hike, we met a park ranger at the state park’s first shelter, for an owl prowl. The state park does these programs for free, where a ranger will play a set of owl calls, and spotlight the owls who come to check out the noises. As we got to the shelter, it began to sprinkle. It was a very dark night, and, as you can imagine, difficult to keep the kids quiet. The ranger played the owl calls, and we listened for owls, but heard nothing. The rain picked up and little, and you couldn’t help but think that the noise would drown out the owl calls. Justin, the park ranger, leaned over to me and said, “I don’t know if we’re going to see any. It’s up to you if you want to stay longer.” About the time he finished the statement, we heard a hoot from the trees above us. Justin stepped out from under the shelter roof, and the kids followed. We stood out under the trees, rain falling on our faces, looking at the owls perched in on the branches above. We walked back to camp with soggy shoes and socks, wet shirts, and rain jacket hoods pulled over our heads.
The next group was the entire 7th grade class of Briarcrest. We moved the class of 125 through Low Ropes, High Ropes, Giant Swing, Ground Zipline, and a little time at the creek in a matter of 2 days. It was a marathon of activity, and we had a great deal of help from some of our former staffers who came up to facilitate the ropes course. A few of the staffers, worked their way into the boathouse, somehow, at the end of the day, and took kayaks out to explore the flooded area. You could paddle your way through acres and acres of woods during this time, and it’s a very interesting thing to observe. You see squirrels still jumping from branch to branch, in treetops 100s of yards from shore. They are living in treehouses stilted up above the deep waters, and don’t seem to see much of a difference.
After finishing the ropes course and waving goodbye to the 7th graders on their charter buses, we climbed the hill and saw the decorations for the wedding taking place this weekend. A giant tent was set up on the blacktop with an arbor constructed for the altar place. Daniel Hampton is getting married to Lauren Gowan, both spent much of their childhood at camp. They had hoped to get married on the beach, but if that were the case, they would need some scuba gear. They relocated to the top of the hill, where, we hope, we never see waters make their way. As I made my way to the camp, I could see the wet spots on the telephone poles, showing that the water had dropped a little bit. We hope it will drop enough that we can play our soccer and build our sand castles. But, we know our plans are often thwarted. The rain comes down, the waters rise, and we find ourselves having to figure out some way to adapt to this unpredictable, fantastic world. These things remind us that trying to be in control can be some of the most frustrating, unrealistic things you can try to do. There truly are powers out there much stronger than us. You can curse the loss of those well-laid plans, but you can also turn your face to the skies and watch the sky rain down life and power right onto your cheeks.
Pray for Camp Bluebird and the new union of Daniel and Lauren Hampton. We’ve heard several people offer to help with the clean-up of our waterfront when the waters finally go down. We appreciate you thinking of us. If you would like to help, contact the camp, and we’ll keep you posted.