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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Camping (07/11/05)

TITLE: A Week Away From Home
By Delores McCarter
07/13/05


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I have fond memories of my youth for it was filled with friendships and fun activities. One year, I was blessed to spend a week at youth camp. It turned out to be an exhilarating experience that completely changed my outlook on life.

I felt intense apprehension when my parents dropped me off, but by dinner, I had managed to make a few friends. We were all from different backgrounds, living together in a cluster of sparsely-furnished log cabins. I also soon discovered that we had a diverse range of personalities within our cabin. Some had positive attitudes and viewed coming to camp as a refreshing experience, an opportunity to spend time outdoors, and a vacation from home. There were others who thought of camp as a punishment to endure, being forced to give up their TV, video games, friends, and fast food. I chose to hang around the positive girls and I’m certain that it enhanced my experience.

One of the best moments I remember were the early morning walks to the dining hall for breakfast. Each morning, as I stepped outside the cabin and saw the breathtaking view of the rising sun, I was amazed with God’s beauty. The morning air was crisp and clean, and the grass was cool from the morning dew. We were fortunate to have great weather and each day was absolutely beautiful. Since I was with the “eager beaver” girls, the brisk walk to the dining hall was exhilarating and fun. I was never a morning person, but living outdoors for an entire week gave me a new perspective on life.

We did several activities that week: canoeing, arts and crafts, as well as various sports, but our main activity was hiking. There were two hikes in particular that I remember the most. One was the day we hiked up a mountain. The climb was steep and scary at times, but by saying a few prayers and watching our footing, we all made it to the top where the view was breathtaking. A few days later, we took a long nature hike in the hot sun. We were tired and cranky when we finally stopped at our destination, but when we saw the large watering hole, equipped with a swinging rope, everyone jumped for joy, bringing our camp leader back into our good graces. The boys were so excited that they jumped into the water immediately. The girls dipped their toes in modestly and joined the guys only after being reassured that there we no snakes or other icky things floating in or around the water.

There were so many moments in camp that I can vividly remember because a lot of them were centered on building leadership skills as well as Christian values. For example, I learned that leaders must follow before they can lead, so I swallowed my pride and volunteer for the infamous “KP duty,” cleaning the kitchen, cabins, bathrooms, etc. I learned the importance of dealing with uncooperative people, especially when they are sitting with you in a canoe, miles away from shore. I learned to be an effective negotiator, while living in a cabin with several high-spirited girls. I learned the virtue of patience while making a campfire with damp matches after the sun has gone down. I learned anger management by suppressing the urge to smack the boy who ran up behind me, snapped my bra strap and ran off again. I also learned to be more compassionate when a friend fell and scraped her knees and wanted me to take her to the nurse’s station... on the other side of the camp.

My summer camp experience was filled with wonderful memories. It was a time before makeup, endless meetings, and day planners. I felt completely uninhibited and free. I left camp with a renewed value of God’s handiwork. The elements seemed to awaken my senses in a way that this city girl had never experienced before. For the first time, I fully appreciated God’s creation.


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This article has been read 651 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 07/18/05
Thanks for sharing your memories and the lessons learned. Delightful read.
Blessings, Lynda
Kristy Cox07/18/05
Endearing personal essay. Loved the last two paragraphs. You summed up - and did so with great detail - how every camper feels at the end of a long week. Thank you for sharing.
In His Grip, KC
Karen Deikun07/20/05
As a person who never had the experience of going to youth camp, I really enjoyed reading your memories. What incredible lessons you took home from that one week at camp. It's a lesson to all of us to hang out with those who can enhance our spiritual growth as Christians and not to get into the "gripper's camp". This essay was well written and nicely developed. Makes me realize that children and teens aren't the only ones who could use a week at camp.
Nina Phillips07/20/05
So far, one of my favorites. Diversity, adversity, fun, learning, friendships, maturity. Very well written and nice entry. Thank you for sharing. God bless ya, littlelight
dub W07/22/05
Great personal essay, interesting and insightful. Thanks, I enjoyed reading it.
Val Clark07/22/05
Engaging, well written article. Lots of conflict situations hinted at that have to potential to make good YP 'fiction'.
Shari Armstrong 07/23/05
Makes me want to go back to church camp again :) Maybe I can make it to the next women's retreat!