Well, I've been back from church youth camp over a week, and am just now finding the time to blog about it. It was exhausting, but fantastic! Over 100 students (grades 7-12) from our church headed down to Doublehead Resort in Town Creek, Alabama on July 18. We were joined there by the youth from First Baptist Church, New Orleans. The kids from our church immediately hit it off with the kids from New Orleans. God worked in both groups in mighty ways.
One of the unexpected events of the week happened just after worship on Wednesday night. As I was talking to Patrick on my cell phone, a nearby substation blew and all the power went out at the camp. With no emergency lights, the camp was darker than dark. The students hadn't had enough time to get too far away from the worship tent, but still a few had started heading for their cabins. I immediately went into our cabin to find the keys to my truck. I turned the truck around to shine the lights on the kids. Tim, our camp dad, told me over the two-way radio to gather up all the bucket citronella candles, and take them over to the lodge where we were scheduled to have a dramatic presentation. We got about 30 candles in bed of the truck, and it was full, so I headed over to the lodge. All the students gathered by age group in front of the lodge and all were accounted for. That was a major relief. All of them were very cooperative and moved in a very orderly fashion through the candlelit lodge to the back porch for the drama presentation. The drama was far more effective without power than it would have been with lights and microphones. It was a Greek drama, and so the lack of electricity seemed appropriate. Just as we had gotten almost all the students back to their cabins, the lights came back on. I was very relieved because it could have been a long, hot night.
Since this was my first year at camp, I didn't know quite what to take so I took a lot. There were several things that I took with me to camp that were extremely useful:
1. Church credit card - Tracy and I were responsible for keeping the vans that shuttled the students around camp full of gas. We had two vans and two 15-passenger church buses. Every vehicle had to be filled up every other day. This would not have been such a big deal except that the nearest gas station was about ten miles away. This is very rural Alabama. Also, we went to Wal-Mart for various supplies almost every day. The nearest Wal-Mart was in Muscle Shoals, which was thirty miles away. Obviously, I did a lot of driving that week.
2. Pickup truck - I drove the pickup truck with my luggage and my food for the week down there. I didn't know how much of the food there would be on my high-fiber, no-lactose diet, so I thought I had better be prepared. The truck turned out to be quite valuable not only the night the lights went out, but at various other times in the week. Doublehead Resort is a mile from end to end and vehicles are crucial to the success of camp.
3. A Sharpie - If I go next year, I'll bring a case.
4. Laptop computer - I uploaded pictures to the website every day, and kept the parents back home updated. Unfortunately, I only had dialup internet access. I hadn't dialed up since 1999. I never appreciated broadband so much. I also took a pack of blank CDs not knowing I would be offloading pictures off of the Hall's camera every day and burning them to CDs so I could wipe their Compact Flash card.
5. A willing spirit - It was hot, and I got very tired, but I kept going because the reason we were there was so important. Several of the students made decisions to follow Christ that week, and that made everything we did, no matter how mundane, worthwhile.