145th Celebration

Camas Meadows Bible Camp has been around for 45 years and our founder Del Griffith for even longer! He just celebrated his 100th birthday on April 22nd. Such illustrious milestones demanded a bit of a party and so that was what we were up to last weekend.

So we gathered at the camp on May 12th. Campers, board members, counselors, cooks, nurses, speakers … those who love Camas Meadows and wished to celebrate with Del traveled up that twisting mountain road for a bite of cake and a time of reminiscing. 

It was a gorgeous spring day with scattered wildflowers blooming and the scent of new forest growth on the wind.

Camp people young and old packed the lodge to hear stories about the camp’s beginning years as well as a few of Del’s own tales.

It was a time to visit with good friends from the past and discover new folks with a connection to the camp or to Del. Looking out across the room was such a reminder of all the people Del and Autumn have blessed through the years.

A camp intern, counselor, and speaker sat on the couch … it sounds like the start of a joke, but they actually behaved pretty well. Yes, I’m talking about you Warhammer!

Once the beautiful cake was eaten and the many tales of camp adventures come and gone had run their course, everyone said goodbye and walked beneath the new sign placed at the entryway in Del and Autumn’s honor.

In 1973, Del and Autumn stepped out in faith and turned a crazy dream into reality. Forty-five years later, God’s work is still going on in this quiet mountain meadow tucked back into the forest. It was a delight to have the chance to thank Del for his lifetime of service and celebrate a monumental birthday together. May what they started continue for many years to come.

 

Boo Boo

 

 

 

Autumn Maurita Griffith

We had to say goodbye to our camp matriarch, Autumn Griffith, this week. On the morning of March 1, she left us to greet her Lord during the quiet of a spring snowstorm. As Del says, the camp would have never happened without Autumn. 

The daughter of a southern belle and a fast-shooting Jack-of-all-trades who was deputized to bring in criminals who fled into what was then Oklahoma territory, Autumn started keeping house at the age of ten when her young mother passed away. She is pictured here as a toddler with her father, Ben. I have never seen the gift of hospitality shine with a warmer light than it did in the talented and gracious hands of my grandmother, Autumn.

Autumn married Delbert Griffith on July 25, 1942 at the home of Clarence and Lily Snode in Wenatchee, WA. She loved horses and wildflowers, hunting and long walks in the forest, caring for her friends and family, and feeding anyone and everyone who walked through her door. Our camp founders settled down in Chelan where Del was a milkman and Autumn poured her heart into raising their four children, Terry, Sharon, Clint, and Greg.

As their family grew and left home, Del and Autumn wondered how they could honor the Lord with their beautiful piece of property on the Camas land. Autumn and her youngest son Greg had been praying privately about the problem when Del came over to Autumn and said: “You know what I’d really like to do with that property?” He didn’t know of their specific prayers, but Autumn once told me that at that moment she knew that what Del was about to say was God’s answer. “I think we should start a Christian Youth Camp,” he said and so they did. Camas Meadows Bible Camp was founded in 1973 and Autumn chose 1 Peter 5:7 as the camp verse. “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

There was no electricity, indoor plumbing, or running water when the camp first began to minister to kids in 1973 but they managed all the same. Del worked the grill while Autumn did the baking and washed dishes with her sister Lily. I still remember the taste of the no-bake cherry cheesecakes she would make for the campers when I was a girl. Delicious! The picture above shows Del and Autumn celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary in the camp lodge. 

I have about ten different pictures of us trying to pose for the camp Christmas card here, but in this one, Autumn is laughing as Scruffy and I attempt to wrangle our rowdy boys. So many children called her “Grandma.” Her own eleven grandchildren, twenty great grandchildren, and three great great grandchildren as well as the innumerable young people who felt the warmth of her love and care when they met her at camp or were invited into her home.

Autumn was known for serving amazing, home-cooked meals on blue willow china and urging passing children to take a candy from their special cut-glass dish, whether their mothers thought they needed a candy or not! Here she is on her 90th birthday, celebrating with family in their log home near the camp.

Autumn and Del celebrated 75 amazing years together in July. This photo was taken just a few days before the big day. An amazing group of friends and family made it possible for Autumn to stay in their beautiful log home until her very last day. It is fitting that she would depart to meet her Lord from the place where she spread His love for so many years. Whether it was a cup of tea and a story, homemade cinnamon toast baked in the oven for a cold child rushing in from outdoor play, or simply a smile and pat on the hand, Autumn brought the brightness of Heaven into whatever she set her hand to do. She is surely rejoicing with Jesus today and all of us who knew her, loved her dearly, and wish her well as she embarks on new adventures with her Lord. 

A funeral service will be held at Telfords Chapel of the Valley 302 9th St. Wenatchee, WA at 2:00 pm Thursday March 8th. The family will be greeting friends and relatives at Camas Meadows Bible Camp at 5:00 pm that evening for a potluck get-together. Burial will follow the funeral at Evergreen Cemetery in East Wenachee.

If attending the potluck, those whose last names begin with A–L please bring a main dish, M–S please bring a salad, and T–Z please bring a dessert. Thank you so much!

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to Camas Meadows Bible Camp, P.O. Box 304 Cashmere, WA 98815. 

 

Boo Boo

The Mysteries of the Camp Bible Cupboard

At our Labor Day work retreat I strove to organize the Bible Cupboard and realized that the Bibles contained therein tell the story of the many years that the camp has been a place to rest, be inspired, and learn about the mighty power and inexplicable love of God. The camp has purchased a few copies here and there, but most of the Bibles in the Camas Meadows Bible Cupboard arrived here naturally, ie. in the hands of forgetful campers. 

Camas Meadows Bible Camp was founded in 1973 and a few Bibles attest to the presence of those earliest campers. Bell bottoms, hair parted in the middle, and bubble letters adorn them, but the word of God contained within is the same.

Next came the 80’s with Precious moments and Cartoon Jesus.

Then the 90’s, brought us The Adventure Bible, rock climbing Bible, Hand’s On Bible, Lots of calming wheat fields, and the Teen Devotional Bible.

Finally, the 2000s left us with an assortment of leather hiker’s Bibles, the chrome diamond plating Bible, and of course a Bible decorated with torn purple scrap book paper.

Whatever decade brought them, these Bibles remind us of the campers who have come and gone and perhaps come back as counselors, speakers, dishwashers, cooks, and the amazing group of hard workers that fuel the camp work retreat weekends. The Bible covers change, but the Word of God remains powerful and fresh. The camp experience remains essentially the same as well. Friends and fun, indoor and outdoor games, learning from God’s word, and delighting in the beauty of God’s creation. After cleaning out the dust and any copies that were too torn to use, I returned the Bibles to the cupboard. It is good to remember our past as we press forward and I love that when a camper forgets his or her Bible at home, the campers who came before have left plenty of Bibles to choose from.

 

 

Boo Boo

Choco

I’ve done a blog post about Del and Autumn, my dad Greg, Scruffy, Sweet Tea, even about Big Boy the elk. But I have neglected to tell you about my husband’s partner in this ministry, our downstairs neighbor, and the only person who was willing to teach the art of plastic sword fighting to a bunch of sugar-crazed kindergarteners at our youngest son’s birthday party. So…who is Choco?

Choco started out as a camp counselor. On his first night as a C.I.T. he decided to scare some girls who were walking down the dark wooded path toward the campfire. Growling like a rabid bear he lept out of the woods making them scream in a satisfying fashion. Proud of his accomplishment Choco then proceeded down the path thinking that he was safe. Then out of no where, the furious form of Storm (one of our girl counselors) struck with deadly force. She smashed his 6’2″ frame to the ground in a flying tackle that Choco swears was far superior then those doled out on an actual football field. Thus initiated Choco has been with us ever since.

He has been a counselor, our camp intern, he has directed the program, and leads our children in worship. He drives our camp bus, fixes all the vacuums, patches the inner tubes for winter sledding, brings back our electricity when the camp generator has one of its inexplicable catastrophes, and regularly has Nerf wars with my three irrepressible sons. 

Whether it is soothing the soul as he strums his guitar or rescuing us from the horrors of a smoking generator, Choco is a vital part of Camas Meadows. Thank you so much for all you do up here. For helping me clutch start my car, for plowing the road in the winter, and for choosing to laugh instead of growl when my boys run downstairs and jump on you with Nerf swords in hand. Choco, you are a blessing and a gift and we thank God that you came up to camp and haven’t left yet.

And so there he is folks. I present to you…Choco.

 

Boo Boo

Camp Metamorphosis

Like the life-cycle of a butterfly, camp is a strange metamorphosis. Campers come, young and adorable, feisty and impossible. Some of them send their counselors over to our house to borrow a teddy bear and some of them ring the dinner bell at 3:00am.

And they begin to grow up and inevitably they outgrow camp. But a few of them keep coming back. They come back as dishwashers and C.I.T.’s. They come back as counselors and assistant cooks and paintball ref’s for birthday parties. Then they grow up again and this time their lives require money and so they go off to college and get jobs and outgrow camp in a more permanent way. But once again there are some that return. They return for workretreat and ladies retreat for CamasCon and Zombie Reball Night. And then there are a few who send their own young and adorable, feisty and impossible children up to be campers. And the cycle begins once again.

We have blessed them in some small way and then they return and bless us in ways that are impossible to describe. A strange and beautiful dance this metamorphosis.

There is one camper who has blessed us again and again and again. Most of you do not know her as a camper, but as Sweet Tea our fierce and talented head cook. Sweet Tea is the one who makes camp delicious. She is the one who takes an awkward gaggle of ridiculously green dishwashers every year and turns them into people who know how to work! She is the one who gives us culinary delights such as Camas burgers, chocolate chip mandarin scones, and her signature sweet tea. But yes indeed, Sweet Tea is also a camper.

A good decade before my father officially started the summer camp program, Camas did host the occasional summer camp. Sweet Tea was there that very first summer. They slept in tents in the meadow and there were no showers. So a couple of times a week they rode in vans down to the river in Cashmere for an evening swim that was supposed to be a substitute, but was probably more fun then hygienic. They wrote out Bible verses in alphabet noodles on rounds of wood and decorated them in moss. My dad was there, making up goofy songs about camp to the tune of old beer commercials. “C-A-M-A-S  Camas makes the best…meadows!” And they learned to repel off Inspiration Point and the cliff by the rock quarry the old fashioned way, wherein the person holding your life in their hands padded their clothing with handkerchiefs, wrapped the rope around themselves in a weird and complicated manner, and wore leather gloves to prevent rope burn as they lowered you down the face of the precipice.

And there it is, the odd and impossibly lovely life cycle of camp. Thank you Nadine/Sweet Tea, for being the first one to come back.

 

 

Unexpected

So…how did Scruffy get snatched up into all this crazy?

There is a hair-pin corner on the camp road that we call “Rattlesnake”. If it is icy, there is the possibility of launching oneself onto the guardrail or beyond. When I was a kid, our progress on this tricky bit of road was sometimes halted by insane teenagers slinging their bodies down this slippery slope on runner sleds. It was quite annoying and of course very dangerous, and this was Scruffy’s introduction to camp. Yes, before he met Christ he was even crazier than he is now and after I married the man I found out that he was one of those “stupid teenagers” risking life and limb and making us late for church.

He grew up and ran smack into God at college and moved back home where he was an occasional speaker at AWANA and summer camps. Then he started dating me and wanted to earn some money before we got married. In a bold plan to earn grand piles of cash working with his brother up on the slope in Alaska, he quit his job and flew up to Ketchikan, and the bottom went out of the oil industry while he was in midair. He spent four tortuous months “unemployed in Greenland” or Alaska as it were, until he came home just as our current camp director resigned.

The camp board offered him the job…and we were going to turn them down, but promised to pray about it first.

Scruff wanted the job, he really did. But he’d only been a Christian for seven years, had a degree in landscape architecture, had never been to Bible college, he didn’t think he could do the camp justice. But he told God that he was willing to try if that was His will.

My motives were less noble. I didn’t want to do it because I knew exactly how hard the job would be. I had just finished college and had never lived away from home. I wanted to get married and go away to Bible college and jump into an occupation that had at least a short honeymoon period. You know that first year where you don’t actually realize how difficult work is going to be. But camp? I’d grown up here. I knew all of the tribulations of camp. But I told God that I would try, if ordered to do so.

And so we rushed away from that board meeting, praying that God would make it clear to us, clear that this job was too difficult and untimely for Scruffy and Boo Boo.

We had a week to give the camp our decision, and by the end of that very day our prayers had miraculously changed. By that evening we were telling God that we really wanted to do this, but we were willing to say no, if ordered to do so.

And really, aren’t most of the paths that God sets before us too difficult? Do we ever have the necessary experience or talent or perseverance for the task at hand? God knew Scruffy’s heart, He knew his passion and his personality and that he would be absolutely perfect. And God knew one more thing, that we do not need to be ready and able, that is His job.

That will be fourteen years ago this May, and I can think of no other occupation that would fit my husband better. He is the man who went down “Rattlesnake” on a runner sled, the man who will never really grow up, Scruffy was made for this place.

What about Boo Boo, the reluctant Camp Director’s Wife? Well, I found that the best things in life are hard. Being a wife, a mom, working at camp. Don’t say “no” just because a task is difficult. You will miss out on everything.

Psalm 139:5–“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.”

Boo Boo

The Call

My parents had a dream as well. Someday they said, they wanted to move up into the mountains and work at camp. But it never seemed to work out… until the call came.

The problem, nothing had changed to make it work out. Call from God or no call, moving to camp just didn’t make sense. They had a house that hadn’t sold. They were pastoring a church with a brand new building and no replacement pastor. My dad had built a playhouse that we couldn’t move with us and we had a Shetland pony and no horse trailer. But most daunting of all, there was no housing for them at the camp and no guaranteed income.

So what did they do? Left the playhouse, shoved the pony into the back of a pickup truck, and moved to camp into my grandparent’s house. Half of the week we stayed in their old home in Lake Chelan, an 80 minute drive from the camp, and the other half of the week our family of four lived in a single bedroom of my grandparent’s home at the camp.

And then my Dad started the summer camp program and all of the Camas run camps. We eventually build a house of our own and even got to live in it for 2 and ½ years before he died. Sometimes I can’t believe it was only six years. Dad worked his heart out at camp for six years and finally that very last summer he had enough camp counselors to go around and a fairly solid program. He didn’t have to be the director, program director, and speaker all at once and things were looking good. Then he died in an accident and we realized that those six years were his last.

I’ve thought about what Dad would have done if he knew he only had six years to live and love and serve here on earth. And you know what? He would have done exactly the same thing that he actually did. He would have left everything behind and lived his dream and changed camp forever. Camas Meadows went from being solely a rental facility to somewhere that created affordable summer camps for children all across the state. Dad started training his own summer staff, planning his own summer program, and changing the lives of children in our own community. He did not leave the nitty gritty of ministry in the hands of the churches who rented our lodge. He wanted to do it himself, and he made it possible for Camas Meadows to continue to do just that to this very day.

He listened to the call. Ignored all the crazy, and plunged ahead just as though what we were doing was sane.

It is amazing what God can do with just a handful of loony people and a dream.

2 Corinthians 4:7—“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

 

Boo Boo

How it all Began

My grandpa Del moved to Wenatchee from Canada via horse drawn wagon. My grandma Autumn was the daughter of a fast shooting deputy and a southern beauty. And they had a dream…they just didn’t know what it was.

They raised their family and reached retirement and the world was wide open with possibilities. But Autumn was burdened with the idea that they were supposed to do something specific with the property they owned up on Blewitt Pass, something for God. So she talked to her youngest son (my Dad) who was a Bible collage student at the time, and they began to pray.

For three days they quietly stood before the Lord, seeking answers and a face for this invisible dream. On the third day Del strolled up to Autumn and said: “You know what I’d really like to do with that property?” He did not know of her prayers on that very subject, and so she held her breath and wondered what he would say.

“I think we should start a Christian Youth Camp.” And thus Camas Meadows Bible Camp was born.

The first camp was in the winter of 1973. They only had the small lodge which housed about 20-25 people and no electricity, plumbing, or running water. The campers prayed and sang and learned about their Lord by the light of kerosene lanterns. They had to use chilly winter outhouses and Del hauled in water from a nearby spring in big metal milk cans. But it was a beginning, and since the whole crazy thing was the Lord’s idea anyway they figured that He would shuffle out the details.

Now our capacity is 85 campers, we have two lodges and three extra cabins, and when you turn on the faucet actual water in both hot and cold temperatures comes out. Forty years after that first camp, God is still amazing us with His beautiful ridiculous ways.

My grandparents didn’t get much of a retirement, but they obeyed. I only hope that upon looking back at my legacy, I will have been as faithful.

 

Boo Boo