(edited to include some memories I was reminded of recently)
On Sunday at church we celebrated Drift Creek Camp and what it means for our children to attend there and for our young people to work there every summer. We sang camp songs and heard from 3 young people about their time at camp. It brought back memories of my own days as a camper and then counselor at Lakewood Retreat in Brooksville, FL.
Growing up in Atlanta, we were 8 hours from Lakewood Retreat, the closest Mennonite camp to us. Starting the summer I turned 9, my parents made sure my friends and I were driven the 8 hours one way each year for the 8 years I was a camper and continued taking my brother and, after he was too old, others from our church. The first few years my mom went along and worked in the kitchen for my week there. It was a blessing to have her so close when I was so far from home. My dad often made the trip, loading up our van and driving us down on Saturday and returning with the campers from the week before on Sunday. There were 4 weeks of camp, so he (and others) did that for 5 weekends in a row. That is a HUGE commitment and one I am grateful he made.
As a camper, I loved swimming in the lake and then going down after dark to find alligators floating in the water. When I tell people that now they are shocked. But the alligators were far out in the water and never came on shore where we went swimming. Eventually they did build a swimming pool. I still dream of making that long walk down to the lake.
I have memories of popcorn popped over campfires, making crafts, fun games, great speakers, singing camp songs, and making new friends.
The summer I was 12 I made my first public confession of faith around a campfire there.
In the summer of 1993, I lived and worked there. I was a counselor for the weeks our church had summer camp, and the rest of the year I worked in the kitchen and did housekeeping. That is the last time I would have been there.
I appreciate the love of summer camp I learned from attending Lakewood. And I am glad I live near Drift Creek Camp where I can see young people being valued and influenced as I was.
Thanks for listening. Happy Birthday Dad!