Welcome to Camelot
Taking my bag out of the car and heading into the main building was like coming home. Sure, I didn’t live here. But the week I spent at camp each summer was my home base.
Inevitably, the hour-long drive south of South Bend to a small, PCUSA camp called Geneva Center was full of anxiety. Whoever was driving was taking their sweet time. We couldn’t have left early enough nor driven fast enough for me to get there. A stop for gas was tortuous. No, please don’t stop to buy anything! Let’s go. I just had to get there. Once I was there everything was OK but nothing could be OK on the day camp started until I got there.
This was camp week. My Camelot.
I looked forward to camp for then unexplainable reasons. If asked I would just say it was fun and I loved the people. It’d take me a few more years to develop a vocabulary for what was going on.
Deep stuff happened to my heart at camp. Each time I was there the grounds became more and more sacred to me. Even now, a couple decades later, when I look at the pictures on the website my mind is flooded with memories of my connection to God on those grounds.
Like the real Camelot my imagination had built up a fantasy about this place. Camp had a disorienting effect because you had a hard time knowing if the camp world was real and home was fake or visa versa.
Each week our little cabin group became a family. These 3 room cabins had a central room for “cabin time,” a boys room and girls room. We had a two counselors and about 15 fellow campers in each cabin. Of course, I had a favorite cabin. Cabin 4. For some reason I always ended up in that cabin group. And each week spent in Cabin 4 meant that I’d develop fun friendships with other kids from other Presbyterian churches around northern Indiana.
I Needed Camelot
As I’ve shared many times, my parents loved me deeply but I got dragged through the mud of all that was going on in their lives. Home often felt un-Camelot-like full of conflict, turmoil, change, and other drama. But camp was always the same. It was a predictable. It was safe. It was age-appropriate. It was “for me.”
My earliest profound encounters with God happened at camp. Going for hikes, sitting around a campfire singing silly songs, swimming in the pool, or making dinner outdoors with my cabin group. I suppose I learned some stuff about God while at camp. But what I remember the most is that Geneva Center was a place where I encountered God.
Camelot Needs Help
As you can imagine, the Great Recession has hit Christian camps hard. For many families sending their kids to camp is discretionary spending that they just can’t take the risk on. And for many other families (especially from lower income households) when a kid needs camp the most, when life comes unravelled at home by the stresses of a recession, mom and dad can least afford to send their child.
My life is better because of camp. I don’t know what would have happened without my weeks in Camelot. Will you join me in donating $125 to sponsor a kid to go to camp this summer?
Photo credit: Castle Hohenschwangau via DragonWoman (Flickr, Creative Commons)