This week at Lakeshore, we welcomed Senior High to our main camp. The Senior High camp is always a major event in the summer. It is the camp that our staff tries to amp up the worships for. It is the camp that stays up the latest at night, which, consequently, leaves us the most tired. It is not necessarily that type of tired, though, that comes from a long day spent herding 11 year olds and staying on your feet longer than you thought was humanly possible. It is more the type of tired you get in college, when you decide at 10:30pm to go down to Krispy Kreme with a group of friends, where you then spend two hours talking about topics you can’t recall the next day. Then when you get back to your dorm room, you begin studying for the biology exam you’ve been putting off all evening. It’s a tired that you should know better than, but, when you are at a certain age, just cannot help. We have kept late hours, with many tearful sharing sessions, as well as lots of “hanging out,” at any time there is an excuse to be lazy. It is funny how this camp swings back and forth between such high youthful vigor to such slackerism.
We also welcomed the second year of our Fishing Camp which seems to bring an eclectic mix of experience levels and actual interest in fishing. At the beginning of the week, the Fishing Camp rose with the sun, to get out before the heat drove the fish into more difficult places. I took a few of these early rides with campers. We caught a lot of the green seaweed (or, I guess, riverweed), which the leaders called millfoil. We were not so lucky with the fish. But, you would get out on the Tennessee River with the cool of last night still lingering in the air. The water was like glass, and the boats floated over it with ease. Then by the time we were returning, a breeze was picking up, and the water was moving us from our spots over to the shoreline. The first morning, one of our pontoon boats ran out of gas, and we had to strap it to the side of our other, much slower pontoon boat. Of course, having a whole other pontoon boat strapped to you tends to slow you down even more. We managed, though to make it back in time to just be a little late for breakfast. We approached the dock, loosened the ropes, and the two boats glided into their spots on the dock.
Our Camp Peace (a camp for youth with anger issues) leaders got a big surprise just before the campers arrived, when they returned to find a tree on the roof of their lodge. Fortunately, there wasn’t serious structural damage, so the campers would have a place to sleep. But, this rash of dropping trees got us a little worried. A group of volunteers, headed up by Rev., Charles Parker, came out and took down a few other trees of concern this week. We hope that this diligence will prevent anymore dropping trees, and we hope that the trees haven’t finally decided we’ve worn out our welcome here. If trees could just decide to drop on roofs, we would be in big trouble. But, at the same time, I have a tough time watching tall trees fall. These giant things that have been growing much longer than me, much taller than me, and are much stronger than me not able to hold themselves up anymore and crashing to the ground. It is a sad thing to see a giant fall.
Recently, I received a cd with photos from the 1975 Lakeshore Summer Staff along with names and descriptions. There were pictures of “Papa” John Kibbons, who is one of the largest names in Lakeshore history. There is a picture of the Staff standing in front of the fountain (which is now the flower bed). There is a picture of the group standing with their arms over each other’s shoulders at the boy’s side vesper ring. There is the old cross, which about 15 years ago was replaced with the lighted cross we have today. The opening through the trees is different. The clothes are vastly different (though I’m sure that style will come back around soon). But the staff do still hold their arms over one another’s shoulders in the same pose that you will find in the photos coming back from Senior High this week, posted to facebook from an iphone, and doctored up to look artsy by instagram.
The Fishing Camp counselors had one of their biggest laughs of the week, when they were staying up one night talking after the campers had gone to bed. One camper came walking out into the common room, where the counselors were sitting. The counselors weren’t sure what was going on, but the camper proceeded to wipe the couch down, presumably cleaning it off. After cleaning off a spot, the camper then sat down in a completely different spot. The counselors asked, “Hey man, you doing alright,” to which he answered, “I’m doing good.” Gradually the counselors realized that they were talking to a sleepwalker who had cleaned off a spot he would not even end up sitting on.
Many times this week, we may have felt like we were sleepwalking. We push ourselves so far some days, all in hopes of doing something great. We often don’t realize when great things have happened until we look back on them and see that greatness in memory. This weekend, a large group of staff and former staff will come together to celebrate a tradition that started ten years ago after the passing of Mark Wiggins. We will gather together and play soccer in an old friend’s memory. We began it as a group of friends, on Lakeshore’s very non-standard field, with barely enough to play the game. This year, there will be nearly 100 who will join us. There will be more players than we know what to do with. People will bring their children and families. It has grown like the mustard seed. We hope that we will wake up for this moment and know exactly what we are doing and feel the impact of that. To know that we stand in the midst of giants that are growing ever-taller. We hope that this time will last and that we will be better. That on that sad day when giants fall, that their sides will have already taken root, and the next generation of tall trees have already sprouted.
To see photos of the 1975 staff and many others, check out our website, http://www.lakeshoreuma.com. If you have photos of entire summer staffs or pictures of how Lakeshore used to be, we would love to have copies. Keep our campers in your prayers who have already been with us and who are to come.