Last Chance Summer Camp: Fall Work Retreat

Our last summer camp leaves tomorrow and school starts in three days. But if you want to come up to Camas Meadows before the leaves start turning color, next weekend is your chance.

Over Labor Day weekend we have our annual fall work retreat. It starts with an evening snack on Friday and ends with lunch on Monday. Sweet Tea (our amazing cook) will be providing the vittles and the campers (both young and old) will be providing the manual labor. People come and go as they can, putting in a few hours of work or staying a few days. Whatever works for their schedule. 

Camas Meadows was built and expanded during these biannual work retreats (Fall and Spring) and many necessary projects are completed that help keep camp running smoothly. Fire wood needs to be split and stacked for the long winter ahead, the cabins are deep cleaned before winter rental groups arrive, some work needs to be done on Mountain Panther so that the long awaited cabin bathroom can go in, the grounds are buttoned up for the snows ahead, and hopefully they will get a roof put in for the greatly anticipated new generator. The new generator that will actually be powerful enough to run our dishwasher (and all the summer dishwashers cheered, waving their bleach-chapped hands with elation)!

It is hard work. But when the long day of toil is done, Scruffy will bust out his huge collection of board games and campers get a chance to relax in the lodge before the next day’s toil begins.

So if you are a camper or camp counselor and are missing camp, if you are a parent and kind of wish that you had been the one packing your suitcase for a week away, if you are a dish washer or a board member or a friend of a friend of whoever…come on up. Camp happens because of workers like you. We work hard. We play hard. And it all happens next weekend. So please, consider yourself invited.


Boo Boo

Wrapping Up The Summer

We are cleaning up from a rental group last week and preparing to receive another one at the beginning of this week. Then the summer will be officially over. It has been a long and lovely chain of camps. From staff training in June, to these last few rental groups in the final days of August.

Camas Meadows is a simple place. A few log cabins on an alpine meadow, wrapped in quiet forest. Small and insignificant. But so much has happened this summer. God makes beautiful things out of dust, as the song goes.

The speaker at Jr. A Camp said something about mankind. How we were the ragged beggar who was rescued and made a prince. Enemies of God, we now stand before Him as heirs to His throne. Isn’t this the story we love to hear most of all. Luke Skywalker, whiney farm hand, saves the galaxy from the Emperor. Harry Potter, orphaned boy living beneath the stairs, sacrifices himself to defeat Voldemort. Aragon, unknown ranger, is the king in hiding who will wed the Elvin princess and inspire mankind into the next age.

One of my oldest son’s favorite Hank the Cowdog books is Hank and the Case of the Hooking Bull. I think I know why. Normally, Hank rescues the ranch from marauding dinosaur birds (pelicans) or a robot alien in the garden (an armadillo) or saves Sally Mae from poisoned food (by eating all the steaks). Most of the time, Hank is just a dog, doing doggy things and imagining that we could never live without him. But in The Case of the Hooking Bull Hank is more. When a dangerous bull threatens Little Alfred, Hank risks his life to save his boy. He is injured in the line of duty. And even Sally Mae, his archenemy, acknowledges his heroism and condescends to pay good money to get the stinky old dog patched up. Hank is a hero.

That is our story.

What we were before, is not who we are in Christ. God made us to be more. He made us to be princes, but we have chosen to live as paupers, away from Him. But He ransomed us and enabled us to be more. More than everyone thought we were. Heroes.

God makes beauty out of ashes. Beautiful things from dust. This summer was all about that. We are small and we are simple.

God is big.

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

Jr. High Camp #2

It is the last day of camp. Saturday morning. I am sitting on the back porch at the lodge. The worn wood of the deck is smooth under my bare feet and the sunlight slants down through the trees with that bright airiness that seems particular to mornings. My three boys and one of the cook’s grandsons are digging in the volleyball court. They have a running hose and a labyrinth of rivers and lakes crisscrossing across the sand. The campers are singing. I’ll Fly Away and Lean on Me and Blessed Be Your Name. The gentle tones of an acoustic guitar and children’s voices touch the forest this morning. I find myself weeping as I type and listen. For no reason at all.

I didn’t know what to Blog about this morning. I am weary with a terrible cold and void of writerly brilliance. But here I am, somehow finding a corner of camp to share with you.

This is the last Camas-run camp of the summer. We have rental groups through the rest of August. It has been amazing. This week, at least three children re-dedicated their lives to Christ, and one little girl decided to follow Him for the first time. But even more than this has occurred. Camp is like the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. It takes you away. It is a place that is different then the every day. The forest is bright and clean around you. Wild life thrive nearby. Camp can be incredibly noisy (Have you ever heard 60 kids singing “Pharoah Pharoah” or “Jesus Got Heaps of Lambs”), it is rowdier than the classroom or lunchroom at school. But it also holds a deep kind of quiet that speaks to the soul. At night, when the power is turned off and the dark and the stars surround you, black and bright in the heavens, the woods feel solemn and huge. Quiet, in ways we have forgotten. And the staff, they are here just for you. To love you and teach you and help you grow just a little bit more like Jesus. They are here to chase you in the water fight, urge you to snag the glowstick in capture the flag, and to slurp up gummy worms out of a tub of gravy when no one else from your cabin volunteered.

Things are coming to a close for the summer, but Camas Camps will be back. Much has occurred, kids have been loved, God has been glimpsed. I wish I had words to explain. But sometimes just a peek is enough. And that I can share with you.


Boo Boo

A Week Off…Kindof

This week was a rental group instead of a Camas run camp. Actually two rental groups. For the first camp, the staff came on Sunday and then on Monday the campers arrived. This camp left at 12:30 on Friday and the next camp arrived at 1:30 that same Friday. This makes for a tight turnover, trying to get the camp ready for the next group. Nonetheless, after a month of Camas run camps it felt like a little break. Instead of being in charge of every little thing from stocking TP to shopping for lettuce to camper discipline, Scruffy gets to cater to the needs of these rental groups, helping them do the ministry they have come up into the mountains to accomplish. This second rental group finishes up on Sunday, Scruffy will do cabin assignments and other last minute details for Jr. High 2 on Sunday night, and then the staff and campers arrive on Monday for Jr. High 2 our last Camas run summer camp of the season.

Actually, there is a story about that second rental group, the Egyptian Orthodox Church. They have been coming up for several years now and we just love them. They even invited the boys and I to come and do crafts with them one year, so cool. But this year their leader called, they didn’t have enough campers to meet the 40 person minimum. Scruff thought about it and told them that he would facilitate their ministry this year anyway, even without the minimum number of campers. He just felt it was what God wanted him to do. So the leaders prayed about it and struggled, should they go through the expense themselves with such a small number of kids? Finally they called back, they felt that God wanted them to come as well. And you know what? Last week Scruff got a call from their leader. So many last minute campers had come out of the woodwork that not only did they meet the minimum, but she was forced to go and buy new craft supplies four different times!

One of those beautiful, quiet, miracles that God is such an expert at accomplishing. He is good when the campers are few. He is good when the campers are abundant. God is good to His word, accomplishing great things among everyday people.


Boo Boo