My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer Camp Memories

Miss Sassafrass - my niece Jamie - stylin' at camp (on the right) 
This week my nieces are at Summer Camp. The kids from our church go to a camp that is actually located within our small town. Unlike when we were growing up - or even like when my kids were growing up - the kids don't just disappear into the wilderness where you don't have a clue what's happening in their lives all week. The girls' camp is on Facebook (which is how I snagged the photos included in this blog post, used without permission but hopefully with forgiveness). I'm not sure it's better this way because looking at pictures of my girls this morning made me SOB! They're having such a great time and I know this week, like the others they've spent at camp, will be cemented in their memory for the rest of their lives.

Sarabeth says, "Hello Muddah... Hello Faddah"... 
In preparation for their week at camp, I sat down last week and wrote a card to each of them for each day to be delivered during this week of camp. I reminisced about my own camp experiences and shared some (brief) stories with them. Their camp allows you to drop off mail when you drop off the kids and the mail is delivered to them on whatever day you indicate. The girls were excited to know they had mail coming but wouldn't even look at the stack of envelopes because they didn't want to ruin the surprise! I've been excited all week knowing that they are reading what I've written for them and thinking about Aunt Heather at least once a day!

Jamie attacks the pirate
When I was a little girl I went to two years at Camp Pinnacle. It was (still is) located in far Northeast Georgia in Clayton, Georgia. Clayton the town, not Clayton the county. I used to always have to clarify that. It was about a four hour drive from home. I was 9 and 10 the two years I went. We slept in bunk beds in cabins and had a buddy from our church that we chose. The first year I was paired with a girl named Doreen. We never really clicked - she was a bit bookish and odd and I was more outgoing and loud. Between the first year and the second year of camp I got closer to my lifelong friend Dewayna (aka Tay) but when it came time to pick for camp, I picked Doreen again because even back then I was a girl who wanted things to stay the same. Dewayna eventually forgave me but I'll never forget hearing her on the phone crying to her mother, "I have to go with BETTY JO".

Other than that my primary memories of camp are having to hike Pinnacle Mountain (which I HATED), worrying about having enough money for the snack bar AND to buy craft supplies. I wrote about that in my notes to the girls - being sent to camp with only $3.35 for a week that had to pay for snacks AND crafts - and how God provided for me, even then. I remember almost all the goofy songs we sang - "Peanut, peanut butter - and jelly. Peanut, peanut butter - and jelly". I remember chapel services that were sedate and reverent and very much like all our church services were back then - conservative. None of these rockin' praise choruses that we get to enjoy now. None of that Pentecostal raising of hands in praise or shouting "amen".
Bethy on the zip line (on the right) 

The camp the girls go to is more adventurous than our camp was. The worship services are full of actual WORSHIP on a level that we never quite achieved. The facilities are new, modern and yet seem even more rustic than our old cement block cabins.

In my youth group we initially had two Summer camp experiences: Myrtle Beach and Trinity. Myrtle Beach was (of course) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which we would reach by traveling in an old school bus overnight after Sunday evening services. The journey was hot, sticky, sweaty and exhausting. The bus often broke down and left us sitting on the curb at a gas station in God-forsaken-nowhere while Papa Joiner tried to fix it. When we finally reached Myrtle Beach we set up tents in an ocean side campground and our meals were prepared on gas grills. We had lots and lots of Bible study and lots and lots of beach time. We had one night at the amusement park, one night at the water slide... and lots of time just hanging out. The two things I remember most from Myrtle Beach are the all-you-can-grab candy counter with every kind of candy you can imagine and the two-sandwich Chick-fil-a meal that we were given at the beginning of our journey back home.
Mess Hall at Woodlands Camp

Trinity was a camp that was set up on an island in Lake Lanier. There was no electricity or running water. A pit was dug for a privvy that we called "the wahine" for girls and the "mahine" for boys. We bathed in the lake. The girls' tents were set up on one side of the island and the boys' were set up on the other side with the adult tents in the middle. Meals were prepared on gas grills that were brought over on boats. I only remember one year of Trinity, I think it was discontinued after that. I forgot my swimsuit so I had to swim in a tshirt and shorts. The lasting joke - the funniest thing that ever happened at Trinity was Mary Beth Warren bringing a hair dryer - there was no electricity!

Worship Service at Woodlands
The Bible teaching and group bonding that I had during those weeks away at camp helped form my character and made me who I am today. Those friends from way back then are still friends to this day in many cases. It was such a precious time in life and such a wonderful adventure. My family rarely took vacations - there were too many kids and not enough money. These weeks at camp were my first vacations and my first grasp of independence. They are precious memories to me now.

I'm struggling with a lot of pain and depression this week. My money has completely run out. I've always had times where funds were low but this is the first time in my adult life where all my money was gone with none on the way. It's humiliating to not be able to even get a 99cent drink at McDonalds without asking for a parental donation and I hate having to be a burden on them. I'm facing having to close my bank account because I can't afford the $10 a month service charge and having to turn in the registration on my car because I can't afford car insurance.

Lake at Woodlands
It's absolutely demoralizing to have worked from the time I turned sixteen and to have nothing - absolutely nothing - to show for it. I'm grateful that I was able to make it through the first thirteen months of no income before reaching this point but man... it really stinks to be truly broke (not Hillary Clinton broke with millions of dollars in book deals in the bank). And I can't help but think - what if my case is eventually declined? What if there really is no money coming my way, ever, unless I suffer? I struggle to get through a brief trip to the grocery store... how would I ever work? It's been heavy on my mind this week.

Not Yo' Mama's Summer Camp! 
Mom and Pop have gone to spend the day with Grandma. She had a pacemaker put in on Monday and is recovering back at her Assisted Living home. She was having bouts of tachycardia and they hope this will regulate her heartbeat. Austin - who has been doing amazingly well at keeping his sleep schedule on a normal routine instead of his usual vampire schedule - graciously volunteered to do dog duty so I am not having to be up and down like I normally would be if my parents are gone. I'm so grateful for his cooperation. I'm even more grateful that some of stresses with him from last week have gotten better and he is doing much, much better with a much more positive outlook. It's a huge relief for me. The visit from Cody and Marquee went a long way toward neutralizing things up here.

Nothing at all like the lake at Camp Pinnacle! 
And... that's about all for today. Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane and I hope you enjoyed the photos of my girls! Love and hugs, y'all!