SUMMER CHURCH CAMP
For 12 years, I attended Alabama Church of God Youth Camp
at CAMP UTOPIA in Springville, Alabama!
For 1 week out of each summer, I thought more about
God, My Camp Friends, Boys
than anything else on the planet!
Know what...despite the fact that I was at camp
(bugs, no air conditioning, pitch black dark,
old cabins and very old bathrooms),
I wouldn't trade those 12 weeks for anything!
Seeing everybody talk about Youth Camp on Facebook
and hearing stories from students and friends attending
and working this summer,
right now my thoughts swarm around great memories
of my youth camp experiences!
Here are my top 15 memories...
1. Being called into "ministry" at the age of 16
Although I am not in full time ministry (and your idea of ministry is not God's idea of my ministry either!), God placed a ministry burden on me at youth camp when I was 16 years old. To this day, I am still seeing His plans unfold in my life.
2. Church Services!!!
From the first years of camp sitting in a circle with your cabin members crying your eyes out because you knew you wanted to be saved and loved God, to the years when you just wanted to stand in the altar area for hours upon hours worshipping God and crying out to him. One thing is for sure...you came back from youth camp changed!
Every year at camp I could guarantee that Larissa Stephenson (Banks) and Kelly Hubert (not sure of her new last name) would be in my cabin at church camp! I know Larissa came all 12 years, and pretty sure Kelly came to at least 9 of those. Most of the time there were 2 or 3 others that attended and then once Tish Hunter (Engel) was attending church she came along also. Not only did you have your church friends, but you had your camp friends who you met because they were in your cabin or you just knew them from year to year.
From the minute we arrived at Camp Utopia, we were scoping at the boys! We wanted to know where they were from and who they were dating. For the most part, we nicknamed all of the boys - you had to because you didn't know their names yet! I can recall "Duck Head" being one name and "Polo Guy" being another!
5. Fun Time
Fun Time was just that - FUN.TIME! It was after service and you had the chance to relax and fellowship with friends. Plus they always played really cool games like "WipeOut"!!!
6. Thursday Night Banquet
Thursday Night Banquets were the best! You would search and "negotiate" all week long to find your date for banquet night! And used to - that was the night you wore the nicest outfit/dress, including panty-hose and all!! Yeah, some things have changed!!!
7. Swim Time
This enjoyment died down the older I got...maybe it ended around the age of 13. We never grew up close to anyone who owned a pool, so swimming at youth camp was a big deal!
This was your time to eat. Yes they had regular meals, but you just didn't eat some of that stuff. At the canteen you got the important stuff - chips, candy bars, sodas, sno cones! That was your real substance all week. And when you were younger, you had "punch cards" where your parent/youth worker would turn in your canteen money so you wouldn't use it all the first day!
9. Bath House
This is a bittersweet memory - cold showers comes to mind! And to this day I blame Camp Utopia on my LOVE for cold showers!
10. Pen Pals After Camp
Back in the olden days! HA!!! We used to actually write letters to our friends after camp. You would take a note pad with you to camp and get the addresses of your friends. No Facebook or email back then!
11. Nurses Station
You never wanted to end up in the nurses station, but if you did, you knew you were in good hands. And they also had something called the "Homesick Pill" if you were really homesick! To this day I am telling you it was a RED SKITTLE!!!
12. Camp Staff
Once again this kind of revolves around boys! As young girls we ALWAYS had crushes on the older camp staff members - most of them were in college. We would talk about how cute they were and wanted to know what female worker the male workers would be taking to the banquet!
13. Spelling Out "We Love You Steve"
One year at camp - I was about 16 or 17 - we had multiple girls in our cabins that had to deal with mother nature during the week of camp....some we all tried to avoid! Well we didn't avoid it and we needed feminine products! We asked our youth pastor who was working at camp the same week we camped to got to the store and purchase items. The next morning during clean cabin awards (see #14) the head counselor saw our message - "We Love You Steve" spelled out in feminine products. SO FUNNY!!! I have pictures!!!
14. Clean Cabin Awards
Each morning before Bible study you would clean your cabin in order to get the clean cabin award. For the most part we tried to achieve this goal (once again I have my OCD to blame on Camp Utopia). One particular year - maybe I was 17 - we wanted to play around with the head counselor. On our made up beds, we laid out our undergarments to look like the rapture had taken place. Boy did Sister Rouse have comments to make to us!
15. My last year of camp
My last year of camp I was awarded the runner-up award for Super Camper. I mean I got a trophy and all! I was 18 years old and decided that was my last year of camp.
Unfortunately because of college schedules
and working full time jobs,
I never had the opportunity to work at Camp Utopia.
BUT in the next few years when I send my kids off for church camp, momma may be tagging along!
Not to just watch my child blossom and grow
spiritually and socially,
but to have fun myself!!!