One of our busiest weeks of the summer just ended - the week of Middler 2 and Adventure Camp...
We, the staff, always hail this as our busiest week. If you're reading this, you probably know about our normal camps - camps like Middler, Teener, and Senior week... But, there's a chance that you may not know about our "specialty" camps, including Adventure Camp. Adventure Camp is a three-night camp that has a maximum camper limit of only fifteen Middle and High Schoolers. The camp occurs simultaneously to Middler 2, but the two weeks hardly ever even see each other or have any interaction at all because Adventure Campers don't sleep in the cabins, they don't eat in the Dining Hall, and they don't have worship or chapel sessions in the Shelter... Adventure camp is everything that regular camp is, except wayyyy more extreme, more adventure-y, and it's all done in the beautiful, (though hot and humid) open outdoors.
Adventure Camp is a new version of a camp NGCC used to put on called Trail Camp back in the 1970s and 80s. Back then, campers would actually go hiking/camping on multi-night, off-site excursions. Since its re-inception about seven years ago, the name changed to Adventure Camp because we realized we did more rafting/zip-lining/other outdoor adventure-type activities than actual "trail" activities... Plus, one year it POURED for basically the entire week and I believe Trail Camp - as it was still called at the time - ended up doing some pretty non-"trail" things... I'm talking things like bowling and watching the World Cup at Rick, the camp director's, house. The following summer saw the name change to Adventure Camp, a name justified because, well, anything can be an adventure right? Over the past seven or so years, we also changed our campsite from down in the woods by the creek (also known as the yellow jackets' nest), to a permanent location just under the dam of the lake. The new location is awesome. Now, instead of four or five nylon tents strung up like a traditional campsite, several small wooden platform tents span the hillside just below the lake amidst towering oaks and pines - all illuminated at night by strands of globe string-lights and tiki torches staked around the campsite. Campers sleep in their little shelters or strung between the trees in their Enos, drifting off into dreamland listening to the constant humming whir of summer crickets and cicadas, the occasional croak of the tree frogs, and even the distant howls of the mountain coyotes... It really is awesome.
The camp is pretty nonstop, with the usual activities including rafting, hiking, zip-lining, a trip to Sliding Rock, kayaking, horseback riding, and lots of other awesome adventures! Compared to our traditional camps, this one the most extreme and the most exhausting! Oh, but did I mention this camp also does some good eatin'? Wednesday night has become somewhat of a tradition with the campers fishing and cleaning their own catch. This year we were actually able to fish in our own pond! After all the catching, our good friend and camp neighbor, Dale Thomas, comes and fries it all up for us - the guy makes some of the best hushpuppies around. (I'm honestly getting so hungry just writing about them).
So that's a little look into some of the awesome stuff that goes on during Adventure Camp. If you're interested in learning more you should just sign up and come, better hurry though for 2017 so you can get one of the coveted fifteen spots! Or, sign your kid up and live vicariously through their stories when they get home! *Cue finger guns and raised eyebrows*
Anyhoo - back to our busy week - even with everything going on we always manage to work it out and find the energy to get everything needed to be done, done, and it's still super fun to be able to be a part of both camps - though it means longer work days and less free time for napping. So even though Middler 2 is already one of our biggest and busiest weeks without the additional duties that come with also serving Adventure Camp, we don't mind, because working at camp is the best job ever. We have just had to learn how to be on our toes from the time we serve pancakes on a stick in the morning, to the time we build and light campfire late at night. When there is a larger volume of people it is almost synonomous with later nights and bigger bags under our eyes, but it's worth it to be able to see the campers grow closer to Christ and even see some make a decision for the first time to follow Jesus! It was great to be able to end Middler 2 by seeing four kids decide to follow Jesus and get baptized in our pool. It's events like baptisms that remind me that we're here to serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the campers, even if it does mean missing my usual nap time or scrubbing an extra three egg pans.