On Monday, I joined 8 very excited (and maybe slightly nervous) campers and one (very patient) bus driver for the trip from Greensboro to Black Mountain. Christmount, the Disciples Camp and Conference Center, sits nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains. The drive up is gorgeous – you discover why they’re called the Blue Ridge – and in the camp you’re literally surrounded by mountains. It’s not a bad place to spend a week.
On the way there, the kids were talkative: what cabin would they be in? would their friend from last year be there? what would dinner be on the first night? would they have to/get to sit in the creek if they got a package from home? Three of our eight campers were first-timers, though if they were anxious they didn’t show it much.
Once we got there and checked in, we unloaded all their gear and headed to the cabins. Their counselors were there to welcome them and help them pick out their bunks. They made their beds and unpacked some stuff. I checked in with each camper before we left and got a couple of hugs and high-fives, but mostly they were ready to be on their own (especially the one related to me, who dismissed me with a casual, “bye, Mom!”). And then we left them in the good care of the capable Christmount camp staff.
The ride home was much quieter, the bus empty. I dozed a bit while Jim handled the driving. We stopped for gas, and chatted about everything from politics to church to grandkids. I wondered what the campers were doing, if anyone was homesick yet, if anybody discovered something essential they’d forgotten.
I went to camp for the first time when I was 11. I remember very little about that week, except that I got stung by a bee and made a friend named Andrea, with whom I exchanged one post-camp letter and then promptly lost touch with. But I went back the next summer, and the summer after that, for years and years. It would be hard to name another experience that was more formative in my life than going to camp.
Watching our kids go off to camp this summer – in addition to the 8 at Christmount this week, we’ve got one at Camp Caroline, and 5 more scheduled for next week – makes me grateful for all the people who make camp possible. The counselors and staff, of course. But also the cooks and the lifeguards. The folks who clean the cabins after each week of camp. The drivers who give up a whole day to get our kids there and back. The parents who send off their beloveds and entrust them to someone else’s care. The volunteers who put together care packages and send notes so the kids will get plenty of mail. The people of this congregation, who pray for our campers and who give financial gifts each year to support our camps and to supplement the registration fee for families.
You all are the cloud of witnesses surrounding these kids. They probably won’t thank you properly when they get home – they’ll be too full of stories and bug bites and adventures – so let me say it for them: Thank you.