Early this week, we wondered if we should just go ahead and start summer camp and see if anyone would notice. Temperatures climbed into the high 80s for a few days, and it seemed very much like those days in early June, about the time we have our first Junior High Camp. We are not ready for something like that, though. For one, our staff is still about a month from exams. The river is still at Winter pool, and the Lazy River looks like it has cherry Kool-Aid in it.
One group that is convinced it’s summer, though, is the ticks. If you go walking through the woods, you will be very lucky not to return with a few on the places they like most—ankles, underwear lines, and armpits. The ticks are out right now in about the numbers of mid-summer, which is pretty scary, considering it is only April. The mild winter was enjoyable for many when it was going on. You can sit on your porch in shorts in January. What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with it is that the deep freeze of a normal winter takes care of many ticks, keeping them at bay when summer rolls around. Sometimes something that seems like a blessing becomes a curse.
During Holy Week in Camden, the ministerial alliance sponsors services at noon each day, and many of the office staff went to these each day. It is interesting to see denominations come together for worship. It seems like the pastors try to tone down whatever eccentricity their particular denomination carries, so everyone is comfortable. What is more interesting is the different responses to the message. There are corners of the church returning “Amens” to the pastor, other sections clap when the spirit moves, some seem to be mumbling something along with the sermon, and there is a group (likely the Methodists) who remain completely silent. I am a very faithful adherent to the quiet worship, but it has been nice to come together as an entire community to celebrate, regardless of our differences, something at the core of all our beliefs.
There is a week’s worth of scripture that focuses on Jesus’ time in Jerusalem before the Resurrection we’ll hear about on Easter. This trip started out pretty enjoyable, riding into town on a donkey, people putting down palm leaves and shouting, “Hosana in the highest.” But, Jesus gets down to business as the week goes on. He shakes things up in the temple, and the Chief Priests decide that this doesn’t jive them. A great new thing can’t stay great to everyone. If it’s great it’s going to bring changes, and change is bound to scare someone. If you scare the wrong people, you will have a fight on your hands. But Jesus was not here to fight. Though, they didn’t realize it at the time, he would do something far greater than winning a fight.
Many deliveries were made to the camp this week. We had a new stock of tie-dye shirts come in as well as medical supplies to restock the First-Aid closet. The Shank (our all-purpose maintenance vehicle) returned from the repair shop. We received a generous donation of 100 or so chairs from Northside UMC. These are very nice chairs that even have the little hooks that allow you to piece them together into rows. You may chuckle at our excitement over new chairs, but just wait until you sit in them—you’ll understand then. Our new ski-boat arrived this week as well. We had reached the point where the boats used at our Watersports camp were no longer dependable. And, yes, I know that depending on a motorized boat is like depending on a cat to greet you at the door with a newspaper (he might do it if he feels like it), but it was even bad in motor boat terms. So, we are excited to have this shiny new piece of machinery in our lives (at least, we will until it breaks down for the first time).
But, our visitors were not just inanimate objects this week. As summer approaches, our summer staff members have come to visit to begin getting ready for the summer. Emma Tinius, our Craft Director, came to inventory the Craft Hut and order supplies on Maundy Thursday with Jonathan Gowan, our Wilderness Director along for moral support. While trying to find the light switch for the Craft Hut, Emma, bumped into the water fountain (stored in the room during the winter) and got a little freaked out, because she didn’t expect it to be there. She also found a great deal of spiders, which she was not happy about. Maybe by mid-summer, Emma will have made friends with all the spiders that call the Craft Hut home. They will certainly help her keep the mosquito population at bay, if she will let them. But, that means ducking all the webs. Emma has yet to name the giant spider she reported to me, but I feel confident they’ll learn to love each other in time.
John Raper, our Waterfront Director came on Good Friday. We spent a good deal of time figuring out how to rig the camp’s sailboat. On a whim, we decided to put it in the water, towards the end of the day. My wife, Allyson, joined us on our adventure. It was a great day for sailing. There was a steady breeze, the sunset was gorgeous, the water was dark blue, it was a little on the chilly side, but the sun balanced it out. On windy days like this for months, I have dreamed of putting the sailboat in the water and cruising on that water, listening to the sounds of the boat cutting through the lake. No motor to hum and drown out the sounds of river—just the wind, carrying you along. Unfortunately, just as we got out into the water, I got a migraine. Then I realized that we had not attached the rudder properly. I tried to put it right, but it was pretty difficult in the water. The more I exerted, the more my head pounded. In the end, I had to have Allyson put the rudder on. Before too long, I was laying below deck on a piece of foam, feeling like my head might explode, while John and Allyson sailed on a beautiful day. My debilitating mess of a head kept me on a moldy piece of foam with my hands on my eyes, while there was a beautiful mass of water and orange sunlight to see and listen to just above. Our dog, Digby, jumped out of the boat one point, but swam back. And, just as our destination was back in site the wind died.
By the time we loaded the boat, it was completely dark. We had to tie the mast and boom down by flashlight, and I had to stop periodically to be still and let me head throb. But, as we pulled that boat in by night, a full moon peaked up over the eastern horizon, so huge and yellow that we all stopped for a moment to look at it. It was so big and beautiful—one of those moons you want to just keep watching. You’d take a picture, but you aren’t good enough to do it justice, so you just stand still and try to look at it long enough that it will stay in your memory, so you might return to it and wonder if it was really as big as you remember. Don’t doubt yourself. It was really that big.
This week, like most, had its ups and downs. There are triumphs and the inevitable let-downs. Things may go ideal like a hero’s reception on your way into the big city. You will find that time, though, when something doesn’t go as expected. You will find times where you will experience great pain. Probably, if you’re being real with yourself, you’ll realize that your pain could be much worse. Much of this week, we remember the pain of one of we base our faith on. We don’t always know what to do this pain we try to remember. It is larger than we are. But, our hope is that when our ship finally arrives at port, we’ll see something else rising in the distance. Something also bigger than us. Something so beautiful, we can’t properly explain it in any way that would do it justice. We can only hope to show it to as many people as we can.
May all of your Easters be full of resurrection. Pray with us for the couple who were joined in marriage at Lakeshore this weekend and those helped by the World Hunger Offering this Sunday.