Summer church camp, which meant being away from home for a full week, brought experiences like no other. Because it was such a unique and meaningful part of my childhood, memories are etched deeply from so many experiences encountered there.
It was the longest I had ever been away from home, and it felt as though I had been shipped off to a foreign land.
Small cabins with built-in bunks totaling 12 sleeping spots were primitive by most standards. Built to be sturdy, with one simple electric overhead light, those cabins held absolutely no frills. A suitcase could be slid under the bottom bunk, a storage space shared by two campers.
I met girls from small towns all over the state, many of whom made me feel like a naive country bumpkin. When one girl complained about having to share a bathroom, adding that she missed her private bedroom telephone, I thought she must be the richest kid I’d ever met.
Using the primitive camp restroom and shower stalls meant a hike down a rugged hill of dirt, large flat rock and twisted, exposed tree roots. All these years later, I still recall the careful foot placement heading down that etched ledge from cabin No. 4, my assigned spot two years in a row.
There was an incredible feeling of being away from all worldly things. Chapel was sacred, even with ornery boy campers still acting like boys. The acoustic music, the closeness of nature all around us, brought an awareness and appreciation I had never experienced before.
Despite twinges of homesickness, it was a place I would hold dear in my thoughts, looking forward to returning throughout the months long after the experience. Even the hum-drum days became significant in ways I had no way of knowing while living them.